How much does price create image in the wine market? An experiment from the California Institute of Technology shows impressive results about how consumers brains work when it comes to price.
How price influences the wine market
Does price create image? Certainly yes, at least for premium wines. Neurology studies advise against competitive pricing for luxury goods, at least according to the results of an experiment carried out at CalTech (California Institute of Technology) on the brains of wine consumers.
The cerebral activity of a panel of subjects was visualized by means of MRIs. They were offered two identical wines, and told, falsely, that one cost more than the other. The tasters didn’t have to say which they liked better or judge their quality, just taste them. The MRI registered their brain activity and printed out their responses. The wine that was said to be more expensive aroused more interest, affecting their judgment, or rather, the tasters’ perception of pleasure. The words “more expensive” stimulated their brains and activated their experience of pleasure more. This research confirms a study done years ago at the University of Bordeaux where so-called experts were asked to describe the characteristics of wines that were of different types and colors. The experts’ descriptions were similar, based on trite phrases and not on objective experience. Lovers of aromas and flavors that are often non-existent in wine were dismayed.
We have known for a long time that consumer psychology is complex. It’s not news that the quality/price relationship is becoming more important for ordinary wines whereas until a few years ago, it was a typical factor only for top-range wines. But the research in California provides a good argument for those who have affirmed for years that “price creates image”. That means that a wine that costs less, although of equal quality, is often perceived as inferior.