Canadian researchers have found that the name of a wine can have an effect on it’s taste. Antonia Mantonakis, associate professor at Brock University in Ontario, and her research group gave 134 test subjects identical wine under the same conditions in Brock’s consumer perception and cognition lab.
One group were told that their wine was from the easily pronounced Titakis Winery and the other group were told that their wine was from the harder to pronounce Tselepou Winery. If you are wondering (like I was at this point) whether the wineries actually exist – yes, they do and they are both Greek.
Both names begin with a T and both have three syllables but Tselepou is harder to pronounce as it has unusual letter combinations (unless you speak Greek, of course). Interestingly more people pointed to the complicated name as tasting better, rating Tselepou Winery higher on a scale of 1 to 7.
After the experiment, participants were given a short quiz to gauge their knowledge of wine. Those with more wine knowledge in particular showed greater willingness to buy the wine from the hard-to-pronounce winery.
“It’s interesting how consumers perceive things,” Mantonakis said in a statement. “Something like the sound of a name can elicit a thought, and that thought can influence the perception of how something tastes.”
The idea behind the study is that a hard to pronounce name denotes rarity, ie that the wine is special – more exotic if you like.
“As such, we predicted that wine associated with a difficult-to-pronounce winery name would be associated with greater taste perceptions, and a higher willingness to pay.”
“Marketers are consistently searching for new innovative ways to maintain relationships with consumers, develop new relationships, and ultimately stimulate purchases. The current research findings suggest that the meta-cognitive cue of fluency can be leveraged to attain such a goal.”
There are lots of factors that go into the marketing of a wine and this research provides a new tool for marketers.
The average age of the test subjects was 24 and I do wonder if the research would have had different results if a selection of older people had been made.
The findings are scheduled to be presented at the annual Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute Lecture Series on February 8th.