Tasting Labels: Consumer Resarch in the Media

Terroir Wine’s Darcen Esau was profiled on CBC News, CBC Radio and Sirius XM Radio this week for his original consumer preference research. Darcen’s research concluded that people are more likely to enjoy a wine if the branding and design on the bottle matches their personal identity.

“With so many options available, why do some labels appeal to some people but not others? And then taking it a step further, does that label actually impact the wine drinking experience?”

To test his hypothesis, Esau used online surveys to divide a wine label’s brand image into four categories: personality, design type, narrative and conveyance of luxury.

Esau then used online research again to measure how much people anticipated they would enjoy the wine based on the label design. If people found the design relatable, they thought the wine would taste better — despite not knowing anything about traditional markers like region, vintage, year and variety.

Finally, Esau conducted two in-person tests. The first, called a triangle test, had people taste three glasses of wine, two of which were the same. Esau says most people couldn’t tell the difference based on taste alone.

For the second in-person test, Esau had people taste wines with two different labels. One had a more contemporary design with a parrot, the other a more traditional design often noted on old-world wines from places like France and Italy. 

“Regardless of what wine was in the glass, if somebody identified with the label they thought the wine tasted better,” he said. 

“People want to be able to relate to the labels so that it can represent who they are and the image they want to convey.”

He notes that a label’s appeal, and thus the perception of how it tastes, has more to do with branding than if it appears expensive or not.

“Even if you think a label is more luxurious or higher quality, if you don’t personally identify with it you still won’t think the wine tastes good,” he said.

Read the entire CBC News article and check out the full research study here.