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Consumer behaviour in wine selection a complex science

19 July, 2012

The average consumer takes only forty seconds to pick a bottle of wine off the shelf. But what goes into making that decision?

Professor Larry Lockshin, Head of the School of Marketing at the University of South Australia and Head of the Wine Marketing Group at the Ehrenberg Bass Institute of Marketing Science, has been researching wine drinking behaviours and what influences the selection of one bottle of wine over another.
"Sixty per cent of Australian adults drink wine at least once per year. More than half of these will drink wine about once per week," Professor Lockshin said.
"Wine connoisseurs will tell you that choosing a wine to purchase is a process of careful consideration of a number of elements including; the grape, the vintage, the price, the origin, the cuisine you will pair it with and more.
"But the reality is that except for some highly involved wine drinkers who enjoy the search process, many wine consumers are overwhelmed by the number of wines available to them in a retail store.
"Most wine buyers want to make a quick decision - most purchases take less than 40 seconds. People are in and out of the store in a few minutes."
Professor Lockshin, who has worked in the wine industry for more than 20 years, has been undetaking research which identifies the blend of elements that come together to aid a consumer’s decision making process in an overwhelming wine market.
"Most people would think that the taste of the wine is the most important factor, but taste is relative and highly influenced by many other factors," Professor Lockshin said.
"Measurement in marketing is a complex process. Merely asking people what is important or what they would do 'if', does not predict behaviour very well. We have to use indirect methods to measure and understand the influences of various factors on wine choice.
"We’re using a lot of cool market research tools, such as simulated wine shelves online to measure and predict responses to packaging. We can even use basic physiological sensors in the lab, like measuring facial movements to ‘see’ subconscious reactions to marketing messages.
"Understanding what goes on, or what does not go on, in people’s minds during purchase is important when designing effective packaging. Most purchase choices do not involve a lot of cognitive processing, but subconscious factors, like colour preferences, can influence choice without our conscious apprehension of it happening."

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