Packaging versus taste: What consumers look for when buying wine

Continuing on the theme of factors influencing consumer purchase decision, this article reports two studies by colleague Dr. Simone Mueller (University of South Australia) where she tried to determine the share of extrinsic factors versus intrinsic ones when consumers have to choose a bottle of wine.
These studies add on to the body of literature showing that consumers like when the “packaging” creates taste expectations that they can actually experience once they open the bottle and sample the wine. This is true for other products than wine. The key is to find the perfect match and avoid disappointment!

Amplify’d from
The reasons why a customer might choose one bottle of wine over another are many and various. Whether it’s a recommendation, the knowledge of a good grape, cost or merely just an appealing label, winemakers need to understand the science of marketing.

Mueller and colleagues at the Geisenheim Research Centre in Germany, analysed the influence of sensory and extrinsic wine attributes on likeability and purchase intent for 521 regular wine consumers. The first stage of the study required participants to indicate their liking of a wine in a blind tasting. The same wine was then presented in three bottles with different packaging designs and brand and origin labels. The participants indicated their liking of each wine based on the extrinsic attributes, before tasting the wine and indicating their purchase intent and liking again. In the latter stage, the participants were unaware they had tasted the same wine repeatedly.

While both taste and extrinsic attributes influenced a consumer’s liking for a bottle of wine, packaging and brand were the biggest influences.

The results of the study are surprising.

While the study shows extrinsic attributes such as packaging can play a more significant role in determining consumers’ liking of wine than taste, Mueller says the best advice for food and beverage producers is to ensure taste and packaging are equally as good.

In another study, Mueller and colleagues at the Australian Wine Research Institute found the price of wine to have a significant influence on consumers’ repurchase intent. In the first stage of the study, participants chose one of 21 Australian vintage Shiraz wines based on the extrinsic attributes of each wine. This included packaging, price and brand. Participants then tasted the wine while aware of its retail price, before deciding whether or not they would repurchase the wine.

Mueller and colleagues found that a combination of extrinsic attributes, taste and price, positively influenced purchase intent. Also, the more often a wine was chosen in the first stage of the study, the more likely participants were to repurchase the wine after tasting it.

Despite the importance of reasonable prices and attractive packaging, no wine is good wine if it doesn’t taste good, says winemaker Scott Hazeldine who has been in the business for the past ten years (the latter two with Schild Estate in the Barossa Valley).

“Taste is first and foremost in what we’re trying to achieve, however, that’s only one small component; packaging and price are equally as important,” he says.

“There’s a lot of good wine out there that doesn’t sell because it’s at the wrong price or the packaging is bad.”

Top factors that influence consumers’ liking of wine:

1. Packaging (46%)
2. Brand (27%)
3. Sensory attributes/taste
4. Grape variety
5. Wine region

Top factors that influence consumers’ purchase intent: 

1. Informed liking (a combination of sensory and extrinsic attributes) (77%)
2. Price (21%)
Note: the influence of packaging, wine region, sensory attributes/taste, grape variety and brand were less than 1% each.




2 responses to “Packaging versus taste: What consumers look for when buying wine

  1. Declan MacFadden

    Interesting article. Would you agree that for repeat purchases taste & sensory attributes would far outweigh all other factors.

    • Thanks Declan. Yes, I would agree with you, although I am not aware of any research evidence. However, one can question whether repurchase is driven by the pleasant sensory attributes at each new tasting or the memories of the first experience. Cognitive psychologists may argue for the latter while sensory scientists may believe in the former.

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