Effects of the Framing of Product Information on Consumer Preferences: An Experimental Comparison of Wines from Different Regions in the United States

By Dotson, Michael; Clark, J. Dana et al. | International Journal of Management, September 2012 | Go to article overview

Effects of the Framing of Product Information on Consumer Preferences: An Experimental Comparison of Wines from Different Regions in the United States


Dotson, Michael, Clark, J. Dana, Davé, Dinesh S., Morris, Kelly J., International Journal of Management


This paper explores the impact of framing on the wine preferences of members of the millennial generation. This age group was selected as the target population because they represent both current and future consumers of wine. Taste comparisons were conducted in the form of wine tastings using samples from two wines from two different states in the United States. These comparisons were conducted to discover whether the participants based their opinions on the taste of the wine or on the framed information provided. Each of these taste comparisons fell into one of three treatment groups. Results indicated that no significant weight was placed upon the provided information when the participants rated the two wines. This suggests that the respondents choose wine based more strongly on taste than on preconceived perceptions of the wine's quality. Results of these taste comparisons indicate potentially positive implications for the growing North Carolina wine industry.

Introduction

North Carolina is home to the oldest known cultivated grapevine in the United States. The Scuppernong vine, located in Manteo, is 400 years old. Before 1919, North Carolina was the largest grape producing state in the nation, with 25 operating vineyards. The United States Prohibition, enacted in 1919, caused many of these vineyard operators and grape farmers to grow tobacco rather than grapes. Today, North Carolina has more than 100 wineries, more than 400 individually owned vineyards, and ranks seventh in the nation for wine production. The wine industry in North Carolina focuses on native muscadine grapes, also known as Scuppernongs, as well as the traditional European vitis vinifera varietals of grapes. Each year, North Carolina's wine industry contributes $813 million to the economy and creates 5,700 jobs in the state and elsewhere. The Yadkin Valley American Viti cultural Area (AVA) is the first federally recognized AVA in North Carolina and is home to nearly 30 wineries. The most visited winery in the United States, the Biltmore Winery, is located in Asheville, North Carolina and sees over one million visitors every year. In 2007, a national survey sponsored by the Travel Industry Association, Gourmet magazine, and the International Culinary Tourism Association named North Carolina one of the top five states for wine and culinary tourism activities (North Carolina Division of Commerce, 2011). Despite this, the wine industry in North Carolina is still relatively unknown worldwide, while it has begun to slowly gain recognition locally

The perceptions a person holds about a certain product can greatly influence that person's evaluation of the qualities and attributes ofthat product. In some cases, it is the person's previous experience with that product that determines their perception of its quality. In many cases, it is information given to the person about the product that is the most influential. The purpose of this study is to determine the effect framing has on a person's perception of wine quality. Numerous previous experiments have explored this topic using a variety of variables and testing a range of hypotheses.

Literature Review

Experiments involving framed taste tests have been conducted as early as 1964. A well-known example is that of Allison and Uhl's (1964) beer brand identification. The experiment involved two six-packs of beer, one with completely unlabeled bottles and the other with labeled bottles which were given to beer-drinking men over two weeks. In the blind test, the tasters were unable to distinguish any differences in taste between the brands, and were incapable of picking out their preferred brand from the others. When given a six-pack which included their preferred beer, "their" beer was consistently rated more favorably than the other beers. Also, all beers were rated more highly overall. The only changed variable in the two experiments was the presence of framed information in the form of labels. …

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