Customers do judge a wine by its label, so wine producers who slap a plain white label on a premium bottle of wine could be short-changing themselves.
That's the finding of a new study published in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice. It indicates that consumers who highly value design set price expectations based on the package design of the wine bottle. In contrast, a self-described "wine snob" looks at other factors, including the vintage, the type of wine and the reputation of the winery.
Wines that want to signal high quality often bear ornate images of chateaus and flourish-rich typography, for example. Other wines "signal" that they are affordable, but use bold colors and fonts to appeal to design-savvy consumers.
Keven Malkewitz, an assistant professor of marketing at Oregon State University, and Ulrich Orth, professor at Christian-Albrechts-Universität Kiel in Germany, co-wrote the paper, which is one of the few that looks at the way consumers set price expectations based on package design. Firms spend billions of dollars each year to appeal to buyers with package designs, yet not much is known about how design affects what price a consumer expects to pay.
"The problem is when you have a bottle of wine that looks much cheaper than it really is," Malkewitz said. "If you are a company producing a high-quality wine and you are positioning the wine at a premium price, why is your design telling the consumer that this is cheap?"