Status games in Wine industry .pdf

Consumers appear unable high pricedwine from low

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Consumers appear unable toreliablydistinguish high-pricedwine from low-priced wine (Goldstein et al. 2008) or even red wine from white wine in blind taste tests (Morrot, Brochet, and Dubourdieu 2001). In addition, wines appear alike. Aron, a wine executive, summarized a view we heard from many other ex- ecutives: The top 15 chardonnays all look exactly the same. They have the same label more or less, accents that are tan and gold, textured paper between white and cream. Unable to taste and observe differences, consumers describe choosing a wine as fraught with fear. As one wine marketer told us, Consumers are paralyzed at looking stupid. And they re paralyzed by the idea that they ll buy a Chardonnay that makes them look like they don t have sophistication. They re para- lyzed by fear. We heard from many consumers about such fear fear of making a poor choice, fear of embarrassment, fear of looking ignorant, and fear of missing an opportunity to make an evening more special. 4 Matthew, for example, spoke about his fi rst time choosing wine from a list at a dinner for work: There were some people that were fairly knowledgeable about wine, and at one point I was sort of handed the wine list and asked to make a selection. And that s always for like, you know a new consultant. Like, that s the moment when you realize okay, I sort of need to know a little bit more about this. In buying wine, consumer fear seems grounded in social risk, uncertainty about choices, and regret in making a poor choice. For this reason, critics and other taste makers can be particularly in uential. Katie, a consumer, noted that she is inclined to choose a wine, If it s been reviewed by Wine Spectator or sometimes the stores do their own tasting and they put their own opinion of the bottle of wine. So that can kind of help guide you too. The simple 0-to-20 or 0-to-100 scoring systems of critics can be powerful. According to Chris, a critic himself, What we ve done by making [Robert] Parker the most in uential critic in the world for anything, we have basically created an objective opinion. 5 Despite questions about objectivity of these scores, critics do in uence consumers. As Clark, a retailer, said: People sometimes buy only on ratings and ignore the description or tasting notes that typically accompanies the score. His observation is shared by other retailers. For example, in an experiment, a retailer stacked two California Chardonnays next to each other, posting their Wine Advocate scores (92 and 84) 3 See - tastings and . 4 Campbell and Goodstein (2001) provide experimental evidence demonstrating some of these fears. See also Bester (2012). 5 The scoring of wines is controversial. As Clark explained: Wine ratings are so subjective .... Wine is 90% bullshit. It s a lot of spin. Economist Richard Quandt (2007) concurs, writing that the wine trade is intrinsically bullshit-prone and therefore attracts bullshit artists. Evidence supports this view. Judges apparently rate iden-
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