Status games in Wine industry .pdf

Driving tastes embracing a wine as art approach

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Driving Tastes Embracing a wine-as-art approach, winemakers choices often contradict market-based logic. For example, The Wine Spec- tator describes a relatively new wine brand (Steinman 2012): Pax Mahle started Paz winery in 2000 to make Syrah and Pinot Noir, but his best-selling wines were the ripest ones [with high alcohol], while those with less alcohol confused his customers. So Mahle created the Wind Gap brand as a home for the lighter [low-alcohol] wines. Those, he says, were the wines we believed in. Rather than dropping a wine that might confuse customers, the winemaker continued to invest more, creating a different brand and increasing the risk of confusing customers, despite the lack of consumer interest in a low-alcohol wine. In another example of actions that defy market logic, vintners will sometimes make wines that consumers explicitly dislike and deliberately avoid steps to make the wine more palatable to consumers. Bill, a marketing executive, told us about a conversation he had with Steve, a winemaker, in which he shared consumer feedback: I said, Steve, I m going to tell you something: they [cus- tomers] just didn t like the wine. The wine just was kind of hard, it was a little bit edgy and, you know, we re kind of saying to ourselves you know, is this the style that you want? It s just a hard style? He goes, Well there is nothing I can do about that .... They should like this and I don t understand why they don t. ” “ They re not going to change. You know I ll build it and they will come, so I said, Fine. It may seem paradoxical that a fi rm would continue producing a wine that consumers expressly dislike. However, winemakers at market-driving fi rms often dismiss consumer feedback and try to in uence rather than respond to consumer tastes. Wines designed to respond to consumer tastes violate in- dustry norms. When discussing one wine created using con- sumer input, a winemaker complimented the wine but dismissed the approach used to make it: It s a marketing brand, a product Status Games / 147
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that is not worked in the vineyard. It corresponds to one fashion and one moment. It s very good. It s very good. But I think it s de fi nitely they have chosen to leave the wine world. This comment makes clear that for the market-driving fi rm, catering to consumer input contradicts fi rm identity (Porac, Thomas, and Baden-Fuller 1989). Firms that solicit consumer input forfeit status, risk their legitimacy, and reveal themselves as com- mercial ventures more interested in fi nancial gain than great wine. Even so, some fi rms solicit consumer input. Although the fi nal product may make money, under the logic of status, such an approach undermines the fi rm s symbolic capital as a pur- veyor of artistic vision and ultimately lessens its in uence.
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