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Context and wine composition effects on Australian wine consumer mood and liking


Abstract

To entice consumers to purchase Australian wine, knowledge of how intrinsic wine properties are related to consumers’ perception is needed. This project employed wide-ranging methods (chemical, sensory, qualitative and quantitative online/offline consumer research) to investigate:
i) intrinsic drivers of Shiraz wine quality and,
ii) the influence of context effects and,
iii) the effects of specific wine flavours,
on consumers wine-evoked emotions, preferences and purchase decisions. Project outcomes produced deeper insights of consumers’ wine behaviour and novel consumer tools to enable the Australian wine industry to tailor desirable wines and shift away from a producer driven toward a consumer driven operation.

Summary

The Australian wine sector faces a number of challenges including, increasing competition in the global wine market. In response, the sector needs an enhanced understanding of which wine attributes consumers like, and drive their purchases. These consumer insights should feed back into industry product improvement and/or new product development cycles. Currently, Australian wine business to consumer communication is not optimal and the tools used to obtain consumer information are less than reliable, particularly in relation to measures of intrinsic product quality.

When attempting to link intrinsic wine properties to consumer behaviour, one finds parts of the puzzle missing: a lack of understanding of consumers’ perceptions of wine quality and the emotions evoked by wine and how these relate to consumer preferences and purchase. Although wine aroma and flavour are essential elements underpinning all wines, consumer perceptions are more likely to be influenced by a product’s emotional profile and the context of consumption. This project is unique as it investigates these missing links between intrinsic wine properties and consumers’ purchase.

The project firstly investigates the intrinsic sensory drivers behind wine consumers’ perception of quality and how that relates to experts’ perceptions of wine quality for wines at different price points. Secondly it examines the influence of context on consumer wine quality perception and preference and finally, which emotional responses are elicited by certain wine flavours and how this influences consumers’ perception of wine quality and preference.

The research uses multiple methods (chemical, sensory, qualitative and quantitative online/offline consumer research) to study context effects while concurrently validating web-based consumer measures. Practical implications include:

  • New wine market segmentation methods (Wine Neophobia Scale) to measure wine consumer reluctance to try new wines so the Australian wine industry can profile and discover who these consumers are and to better understand their needs in future.
  • A specific lexicon (AWEEL) designed to measure Australian wine consumer wine evoked emotions to provide deeper consumer insights over and above wine liking and acceptability data.
  • In depth understanding of the wine sensory attributes and chemical compounds that drive consumers’ liking, emotions, willingness to pay for commercial Shiraz wines and the relationships between consumers’ and experts’ quality perception of Shiraz wines so producers can promote these components in their wines.
  • Attenuated Total Reflectance Mid-Infrared (ATR-MIR) Spectroscopy has been identified as a promising method to predict phenolic composition of Shiraz wines and Shiraz quality.
  • Robust validation of wine consumption context (laboratory, restaurant, home) impacts on consumer liking, emotions and willingness to pay leading to improved consumer testing in future.
  • A new rapid methodology to measure what consumers smell, taste and feel in wines permitting producers to communicate to consumers in a language they understand and the basis of a new tool that could be adapted for and utilised by the wine industry to produce sensory profiles and statistical analysis of their wines negating expensive sensory testing.
  • Knowledge of how wine description information, such as the wine sensory characteristics of smell, taste and mouthfeel along with wine quality and producer information impacts wine consumer emotions, liking and willingness to pay.
  • How key wine flavour compounds are perceived in the Australian, US and UK markets and which are most suited to specific occasions and seasons which could assist tailoring products more precisely for these markets.
  • First time wine flavour and mouthfeel evoked consumer emotional responses determined and detailed consumer perception of wine body defined.