THREE ESSSAYS ON MARKETING AND CONSUMER BEHEVIOR OF AMBIGROUS PRODUCTS: THE CASE OF WINE
Li, Jie ,
This dissertation consists of three independent research papers focusing on wine marketing and consumer wine preferences in the U.S. The first paper, entitled “Taste physiology and consumer behavior---A Lab Experiment”, examines how consumer heterogeneous taste physiology influences purchasing decisions in the presence of external cues (product tasting information). This paper collects data from 201 adult participants in a lab experiment and uses ANOVA and post-hoc pairwise comparisons to examine the impact of taste physiology. The results indicate that taste physiology influences how consumers perceive wine tasting information as well as their purchasing behavior. The results also indicate that consumers pay little attention to wine tasting information for lower price wines; however, both supertasters and non-supertasters are influenced by the tasting information for higher price wines. Supertasters and non-supertasters appear to have different attitudes toward the sensory descriptors. The potential marketing implications as well as the future research are also discussed at the end of this paper. The second paper, “Nature or Nurture? The influence of taste physiology and consumer product expertise on consumers’ purchasing behavior---A Field Experiment”, extends the research of the first essay and examines to what extent consumers’ preferences and behavior are learned and to what extent they are innate. This paper relies on a field experiment in two wineries in the Finger Lake region with 385 winery visitor participants. This paper examines how consumer heterogeneous taste physiology and product expertise influence purchasing behavior, particularly when wine description cues are presented. The results show that the interaction between consumer taste physiology and wine expertise contributes to the differences in purchasing decisions across consumers. Seemingly small differences in wine tasting description can have substantial impacts on purchasing decisions. Furthermore, this paper provides evidence that expert consumers exhibit a bias against the use of the “sweet” descriptor, with it negatively influencing their perception of wine quality and purchasing intent. Finally, the third paper moves away from examining the impact of consumers’ taste physiologies on their wine purchasing decisions and considers more broader marketing issues in the wine industry. The “Does passion for wine matter? The effects of owner motivation on pricing and quality decisions in non-traditional wine regions” paper uses a survey instrument and develops hypotheses based on a utility maximizing framework, explicitly measures winery owner motivation to enter the winery industry, and empirically examines how the motivation influences winery pricing and quality decisions. This paper tests the hypotheses using data collected from 700 wines from 102 wineries in non-traditional wine regions of Missouri, Michigan and New York in 2012. The results indicate that a winery owner driven more by a passion for wine (labeled as passion-oriented owner) tends to produce higher quality wines and charge higher quality-adjusted prices. In contrast, a winery owner mainly driven by the opportunity to make profits (labeled as profit-oriented owner) tends to produce lower quality wines and are more likely to set lower quality-adjusted prices in comparison to their passion-oriented counterparts. This essay concludes with a discussion of the policy and marketing implication of these findings and suggestions for future research.
Marketing; Economics; Agriculture economics; consumer segmentation; factor analysis; owner motivation; taste physiology; taste preference; utility maximization and profit maximization
Gomez, Miguel I.
Wansink, Brian C.; Latour, Kathryn A.
Applied Economics and Management
Ph. D., Applied Economics and Management
Doctor of Philosophy
dissertation or thesis