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Boozing or branding? Measuring the effects of free wine tastings at wine shops



Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to focus on both the sales effects of free wine tastings and the effects on attitudes towards future purchases four weeks after the tastings. Design/methodology/approach – Store scanner data for the four weeks before and after each of ten wine tastings are used to measure the effect tastings had on sales. A total of 170 consumers, who attended a free tasting in wine shops across 4 cities, are interviewed as they leave the store and 37 of these consumers respond to a call back survey one month after the free tasting. Findings – Scanner data shows a 400 per cent increase in sales of the wines tasted on the day of tasting, and a small but significant effect on sales during the four weeks afterwards. The survey shows that there is no difference in purchasing between those attending a tasting with the intention to purchase and those just stopping by. Both groups purchase at about the same rate. Only about 33 per cent of the attendees purchase; the other two-thirds are boozing. Research limitations/implications – Free tastings boost immediate sales just like most price promotions, but the effect on the intention to purchase is stronger for those who made a purchase. The study is conducted in one country among a small number of buyers, which limits its generalisability. Practical implications – The results and implications of this research can be used by retailers and wine companies to make more informed decisions about free tastings. From this small study, attracting the maximum number of tasters to increase sales and long-term purchasing intentions would be recommended.
Boozing or Branding? Measuring the Effects of Free Wine Tastings at Wine Shops
Purpose: This research focuses on both the sales effects of free wine tastings and the effects on
attitudes towards future purchases four weeks after the tastings.
Methodology: Store scanner data for the four weeks before and after each of 10 wine tastings
were used to measure the effect tastings had on sales. One hundred seventy consumers, who
attended a free tasting in wine shops across 4 cities, were interviewed as they left the store and
37 of these consumers responded to a call back survey one month after the free tasting.
Findings: Scanner data showed a 400% increase in sales of the wines tasted on the day of
tasting, and a small but significant effect on sales during the four weeks afterwards. The survey
showed that there was no difference in purchasing between those attending a tasting with the
intention to purchase and those just stopping by. Both groups purchased at about the same rate.
Only about 33% of the attendees purchased; the other two-thirds were boozing.
Implications/Limitations: Free tastings boost immediate sales just like most price promotions,
but the effect on the intention to purchase is stronger for those who made a purchase. The study
was conducted in one country among a small number of buyers, which limits its generalizability.
Practical implications: The results and implications of this research can be used by retailers and
wine companies to make more informed decisions about free tastings. From this small study, we
would recommend attracting the maximum number of tasters to increase sales and long term
purchasing intentions.
Classification: Research paper
Key Words: Free tastings, wine sales, brand recall, wine retailing
Wine is one of the few product categories where free tastings are regularly used as part of the
promotional process. Many food products use free tastings in supermarkets as part of a new
product introduction strategy, but few use free tastings as an ongoing promotional tool.
Regulations on offering free tastings differ around the world, but they are legal in many areas. In
Australia there is a long tradition of wine shops holding free tastings every Thursday evening
and/or Saturday afternoon. These are sponsored by wineries, which provide free wine, and
typically are conducted by the retailer’s staff. With all the resources allocated to such a
promotional tool, one would expect that empirical research would have investigated the effect of
such large expenditures, but a literature review did not reveal any specific studies in this area.
This research focuses on two main areas. The first is on the effect free tastings have on brand
sales at the same time. Free tastings should follow the pattern of any other sales promotion; that
is an immediate increase in brand sales followed by a rapid decline. The typical pattern would
be increased sales on the day/s of the tasting/promotion and a swift decline on following days
(Blattberg and Neslin 1989). Will the nature of wine consumption illustrate a contrasting pattern,
where there is a spike in sales on the day(s) of the tasting followed by a series of smaller spikes
at intervals on days following the tasting caused by repeat purchases?
The second area focuses on consumer perceptions and reactions to in-store tastings by taking a
look at the factors that draw customers to free tasting events, and brand awareness and future
purchase intentions in an attempt to see if free tasting has longer term effect.
The aim of looking at these two areas is to provide justification (or not) for the ongoing of free
wine sampling in retail stores. The purpose is not only to provide a new area of research to the
academic sector but also to indicate managerial implications to retailers. Many retailers have
anecdotally mentioned that free in-store tasting is an area of concern because it drains resources,
the number of attendees is declining, and the return on investment is unknown. Tastings require
preparation, staff time away from the shop floor and they draw attention away from other
products for sale. This does not mean that retailers believe tastings to be a bad idea, but simply
that the benefits are not measured and the effects unknown. It is time these uncertainties are put
to rest and the aim of this research is to provide a solid and accurate reflection of the issues and
debates surrounding free in store tasting.
Literature Review
There has been no previous research looking specifically at the relationship between free in-store
wine tastings, consumer behaviour and brands. Studies dealing with consumer behaviour, brands
and promotions, in both wine and non-wine markets, will provide the basis for explaining the
possible effects of free wine tastings in a retail environment. The purpose of this literature review
is to draw on previous findings and illustrate how they are applicable to issues surrounding a free
wine tasting.
Consumers tend to base their decision-making on a number of attributes associated with a bottle
of wine that lead them to form an opinion and in turn make a purchase (Chaney, 2000; Thomas
and Pickering, 2003). Prior to purchase the most important pieces of information to a consumer
looking at a bottle in a retail environment are: having previously tried the wine, the grape variety,
the brand name and price (Goodman et al. 2008; Lockshin et al. 2006; Thomas and Pickering
2003; Thomas 2000). Barber et al (2007) take this concept a step further by arguing that
consumers often look for attributes on a bottle of wine that spark some form of recognition and
that the information available is then processed and used based on a risk reduction strategy.
Choosing a bottle of wine can be a difficult decision, particularly for less knowledgeable
consumers. Customers in a wine shop typically have only visual cues to guide them through
their decision-making process and possibly some memory of previous tasting, but no research
has considered actual tasting during the decision-making process.
A free wine tasting event is a unique form of retail selling and promotion. The only comparison
that can be drawn is to other situations where some sort of free sample is being offered, for
instance in food markets. Another observational difference is that ‘free giveaways’ are often used
to promote a product that has been discounted. With wine that is on free tasting there is typically
no discount in the price.
McLaughlin (2007) relates the concept of in-store free wine tasting to that of test-driving a car. It
is a unique promotional situation where the consumer gets to try the product without any real
obligation to buy or any discount provided. Almanza and Barber (2006) relate this concept more
specifically to wine by arguing that the majority of consumers find choosing and purchasing a
bottle of wine a risky business. Consumers are concerned with the consequences of making a
poor selection when choosing a wine and evidence has shown that taste is the risk that consumers
fear most (Barber et al 2007; Mitchell and Greatorex 1988). In addition, it has been shown that
customers who sample a new product have an increased probability of immediate purchase
(Barth 2007).
Early research by Chevalier (1975) on sales promotion illustrated the dramatic effect it can have
on sales figures. This effect has since been studied by Guadagni and Little (1983), Krishramurthi
and Raj (1988), and Gupta (1988) using scanner data at a household level, while Moriarty
(1985), Wittink et al. (1987), and Blattberg and Wisniewski (1988) looked at scanner data on a
market level. Blattberg and Neslin (1989) showed that ‘brand switchers’ account for about one
third of the increase in volume due to sales promotion. The other two-thirds have bought the
brand in the past. This shows that sales promotions do not necessarily attract people new to the
brand. The same may be true with wine tastings. Promotions could have either a positive or
negative effect on repeat purchases. Discount promotions typically have a negative short-term
effect, as argued by Neslin and Shoemaker (1989) and Blattberg and Neslin (1989), due to a
negative attribution for the company’s reasoning behind staging the promotion and stocking up
by consumers.
Other research has asked consumers how important having tasted the wine or the availability of a
tasting is on a consumer’s decision to buy and their satisfaction with the retailer (Lockshin and
Kahrimanis 1998; Goodman, et al. 2006; 2008; Johnson and Bastian 2007). Lockshin and
Kahrimanis’ research (1998) ranks ‘wine tastings available’ as the 24th most significant store
attribute when evaluating a wine shop out of a list of 45 attributes,. However, these articles
looked at consumers’ stated effect of tastings on retailer choice and shopping behaviour, not at
actual wine purchase behaviour. Goodman et al. (2006; 2008) found previously tasting the wine
to be the most important in Australia and ranked in the first three across several countries,
however the question looked at tasting before purchase, not during the purchase process. Johnson
and Bastian (2007) also found consumers, when asked, stated that tasting the wine prior to
purchase is an important factor in their decision process.
Research Questions
The research questions need to reflect a blend of previous findings and intelligent speculation to
measure the effects of free wine tastings in retail stores. Does the brand receive more sales on the
day of the tasting than during a ‘regular’ trading day before the event? Does the brand receive an
increase in sales after the day of the tasting? One would expect, as with most promotional
activity, the day of the tasting will persuade consumers to purchase more of the brand being
offered on tasting than if that brand was not on tasting. The after effects are not clear.
The next main question is: do people attend a free tasting knowingly and do they attend with the
intention to buy? One might expect that people consider a free tasting to be a bonus to their
shopping experience, a gift from the retailer to the customer. If this is the case, then it could be
predicted that attendees view a free tasting as a chance to get a free drink of wine and merely
‘booze’. On the other hand, some consumers might attend a free tasting with the purpose to taste
and then buy if they like the wine. Related to this is how many people actually do buy from each
of those groups - those who just showed up and those who attended on purpose? Finally, it is
important to find out whether those who attended the tasting remembered the brands tasted after
a time lag and whether or not they planned to purchase these wines in the future.
All the data for the research was derived from a major Australian retail wine chain’s free tasting
sessions and the customers that attended those sessions spread across 10 tastings, in nine stores
across four Australian cities – Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney.
The actual sales on the 28 days before the tasting, the day of the tasting, and the 28 days after the
tasting were obtained from the scanner register for each of the stores for each of the wines tasted.
There was no identification of who actually bought the wines, only the sales of each specific
wine before, during, and after the tasting.
The consumer response survey was only completed by people who had tasted free wine on the
day of the event. Customers were only approached once they had tasted the samples and when
leaving the store either empty-handed or once they had purchased any wine from the retailer.
This was a protocol stipulated by the retailer. Every third customer was approached leaving the
store. This resulted in a non-random sample of consumers.
The survey was used to measure a number of consumer responses to the free tasting. Variables
included did they attend with the intention to buy, whether they felt free tasting was important,
how often did they buy wine offered on free tasting, were they aware of the tasting prior to
arrival, did they buy any of the wine that was on tasting and, if so, what brand(s)? In addition the
survey contained a group of questions designed to try to gauge the customer’s level of
involvement in wine and how often they bought and drank wine. The survey asked the
respondents to clarify whether they had bought wine on the day of the event – either brands that
were on free tasting and not on free tasting. The last section of the survey also contained a set of
demographic questions.
A call-back survey was conducted exactly one month after the date of the tasting. Customers,
who completed the initial survey, were asked if they would consent to a follow-up phone call in a
month. The aim of the call-back survey was to see whether the consumer could recall the
brand(s) that they tasted on the day of the tasting and if they had purchased any bottles of that
wine(s) in the period between the tasting date and the call-back date as well as their future
purchase intentions.
Analysis and Results
Scanner sales data
The scanner data set contained the sales, in number of bottles sold, for all of the SKU’s
(stockkeeping units) that were offered on free tasting for the 4 weeks prior to the tasting date, the
day of the tasting and the 4 weeks after the tasting date at all of the locations used in the
research. Different wines were tasted during our test period at different stores. There were
several tastings of imported Champagnes in the lead up to Christmas. There were also tastings of
several wines from a single brand, e.g., Penfolds; or tastings of multiple brands from a single
region, e.g., Marlborough (NZ) Sauvignon Blancs. To explore any patterns between the different
free tasting formats, we first graphed the data using Excel. The data were recorded into four
categories as below depending on the wines tasted:
Category 1 – Unit sales data for all the brands involved in every free tasting
Category 2 – Unit sales data from the locations that staged free tastings of Champagne
Category 3Unit sales data from the locations that offered only one brand (but multiple items)
on free tasting.
Category 4 Unit sales data from the locations that offered several different brands on free
tasting at the same time.
The categories were chosen to look at different aspects of the data. Champagne consists of
mainly well-known brands, most of which are highly promoted. Also, the data was collected in
November near the Christmas/New Year’s holiday period. A few of the tastings had one brand,
but many items from within the range, so it is possible that there would be a synergistic effect on
the overall range for such a tasting. Other tastings were themed around a grape variety or a single
distributor, but had a range of different brand names, where no synergy would be expected.
Figure 1 about here
The combined results (Figure 1) show an immediate increase in sales on the day of the tastings.
It mirrors Chevalier’s (1975) pattern that sales take in a promotional situation: an immediate
increase during the promotion followed by a swift decline once the promotion has finished. The
sales went from a highest peak of 1000 bottles in the period before the tasting to a peak of over
4000 bottles on the day of free tasting. The weekend after also shows a spike in sales. The graph
shows that the three separate groups reflect the same pattern as seen with the whole data set, so
all the items were combined into one dataset for the regression.
We then ran a dummy variable regression to look for statistical significance in the patterns
observed. The dependent variable was unit sales for each wine on tasting. The categorical
variables were: unit sales for the 28 days before the tasting, unit sales the day of the tasting, unit
sales the 28 days after the tasting, and one for weekends to see if unit sales were artificially
higher (lower) on weekends. We pooled all the data, since there weren’t enough sales of each of
the four categories above to analyse separately. The only significant variables were: unit sales
the day of the tasting (t = 14.0, prob = .00) and unit sales after the tasting (t= 2.63; prob = .01). It
is clear the tasting has a large immediate effect on purchases, while there is a small but
significant increase in sales after the tasting. There was no effect of sales before the tasting or an
effect of greater (lesser) sales on the weekends as compared to weekdays
Survey of customers after the tasting
A total of 170 surveys were collected from consumers after they left the stores where there were
free tastings. Every third person exiting was approached, although not ever third person was
interviewed due to refusals to participate. The demographics of the sample are presented in Table
1. The majority of respondents were male, accounting for 66% of respondents. The age range of
the respondents was fairly diverse with the two most common age ranges of 46 60 years old
and 26 – 35 years old. For income, 44% were in the highest salary bracket of $100,000 plus and
it is also worth noting that 71% of respondents’ income was $60,000 or more, which is much
higher than the Australian average of approximately $35,000. Therefore, this sample is a
convenience sample and is not a representative sample of Australian wine consumers (Mueller et
al. 2008). It represents customers of a specialty wine store chain, which is mainly situated in
wealthier suburbs.
Table 1 about here
A series of chi-square tests were run comparing the gender, age, income, and wine involvement
(Lockshin et al. 2006) results for each city to determine if there was any significance between the
cities. None of the tests conducted produced a Pearson’s chi-square significance value that was
less than 0.05. This indicates that there is no significant difference between the cities and,
therefore, the sample can be treated as a whole for analysis.
Intention to buy was used to determine whether the consumer considered a free tasting an
opportunity to buy or an opportunity to try; does attitude lead to behaviour? We compared the
purchasing behaviour of those customers who attend a free tasting with the intention to buy, with
those who attend with no intention to buy to see whether attitude is a significant factor in buying
The results showed that out of the 170 valid respondents, 53% stated that they attend free
tastings with the intention to buy in comparison to 16% who stated they attended free tasting but
with no intention to buy; the remaining 30% showed no preference (Table 2). More customers
attend free tastings with the intention to buy than not intend to buy. Across all intentions, 61% of
the sample said that tasting the wine in store is important in their decision to buy, even though
actual sales did not bear this out. Eight-eight percent of the respondents stated that they felt more
reassured buying a wine after a free tasting. This supports Barber et al (2007) and Almanza and
Barber (2006) that adding taste as a product attribute reduces the risk involved in purchasing a
bottle of wine. It shows that consumers believe a free tasting acts as a useful aid in the purchase
decision-making process.
Table 2 about here
The results from the cross tabulation in Table 2, show that a third of the people who attended the
tasting with the intention to buy, did actually buy on the day. Thirty respondents out of a total of
90, who stated they attend a free tasting with the intention to buy, actually bought (33%). Thirty-
eight percent, who attend without the intention to buy, bought on the day of the free tasting and
21% of individuals who showed a neutral viewpoint also purchased. However, a chi-square test
showed there was no significant pattern to the results; the proportion of those buying or not were
randomly associated with the intention to buy or not. There is little difference in the purchasing
behaviour of individuals regardless of their intention to buy when attending a free tasting as the
insignificant chi-square test showed.
Sixty-three percent of the respondents who purchased on the day bought a brand(s) that was on
tasting and 37% of the respondents who purchased on the day bought a brand(s) that was not on
tasting. The data also shows that more than double the number of bottles was purchased of wine
that was on free tasting. Regardless of intention, the wines being tasted attracted a
disproportionate number of sales. These results also show, that only 52 respondents out of a total
sample of 170 who attended a tasting event bought a wine(s) being offered on tasting. This
indicates that only about a third of people who attend tastings purchase a wine on free tasting and
there is quite a lot of ‘boozing’ going on at free tastings and not much buying across the
Demographic analysis
To analyse the data further, demographic variables were grouped into categories to determine if
there was any significant difference between groups of respondents. The categories created were
based on how retailers might group their consumers:
1. Age – divided into 2 groups:
35 years and under
36 years and over
2. Involvement – divided into 2 groups based on the response to the involvement questions.
Respondents were asked to rate on a scale of 1 – 5 how strongly they agreed or disagreed
with the following 4 statements: ‘I have a strong interest in wine’; ‘Wine is important to
me in my lifestyle’; ‘Drinking wine gives me pleasure’ and ‘I like to talk about wine with
my friends and/or family’ (Lockshin et al. 2006). A factor analysis was conducted and all
four questions loaded on a single factor. A score of 1 equalled strongly disagree and 5
strongly agree therefore there was a maximum score of 20 for involvement when the
responses were added together.
Low involvement consumers – respondents who scored 12 or less on the test.
Medium – high involvement consumers – respondents who scored 16 or more on
the test.
3. How often a consumer drinks wine:
Respondents who drink once a week or less
Respondents who drink more than once a week
4. Gender
5. Income – divided into 3 groups:
$60,000 and under
$60,001 - $100,000
$100,001 and over
Thirty-one percent of the respondents were 35 years old and under and 69% were 36 years old
and over. A chi-square test showed more than the expected number of individuals aged 36 and
over were classed as high involvement consumers. For individuals 36 years and above, the
decision to attend a free tasting is more affected by the brand that is being offered to taste than
for individuals who are 35 years old and under. Older wine drinkers tend to be more brand
focused. There was no significant different between the two age groups as to whether they
purchased a bottle of wine from the free tasting on the day of the event.
Twelve percent of the sample was low involvement and 88% were medium/high involvement
consumers. As expected, high involvement wine drinkers drink wine more often than low
involvement drinkers in this sample (chi square = 30.7, p = .00). Tasting the wine in store is
more important to medium/high involvement consumers in their decision to buy then it is for
lower involvement consumers (one way ANOVA, p = .00). Significantly more medium /high
involvement consumers attend a free tasting with the intention to buy, and are more likely to
attend a free tasting based on the brand(s) being offered to taste than low involvement consumers
(one way ANOVA, p = .00).
In the sample 40% of respondents drink wine once a week or less and 60% of consumers drink
more than once a week. The group of people who drink once a week or less contain fewer
medium/high involvement consumers, and more low involvement consumers than expected
based on a significant chi-square. However, there was no significant difference between the
groups as to whether they bought wine on the day of the free tasting. It seems to be important to
attract the largest number of people to a wine tasting and not worry if they are high involvement
consumers or not.
The analysis of the gender category showed no significant differences between the groups across
all the variables. This indicates that male and female consumers do not vary in their attitudinal
and behavioural responses to free wine tasting.
Out of the total sample, 28% of respondents have an income of $60,000 or less, 28% have an
income of $60,001 - $100,000 and 44% have an income of $100,001 and over. However, there
was no significant difference between the groups as to whether they bought wine on the day of
the free tasting.
Interestingly, the analysis showed that across the majority of variables there is no significant
difference in the attitudes and behaviour of individuals in the different income groups. One area
worth highlighting is that income appears to have no affect on involvement in wine. The analysis
indicates that people across all income ranges have a similar outlook on free wine tastings. If a
customer ‘appears wealthy’ that does not mean there is a higher chance of them buying wine
from a free tasting.
Call back survey
During the in-store survey respondents were asked if they would consent to a follow-up phone
call a month after the date of the free tasting. It was designed to measure three aspects
customer memory (brand recollection), repeat purchases and future purchase intentions. A total
of 59 respondents agreed to a follow up-phone call. Each individual who agreed to a follow up
phone call was contacted exactly 1 month after the date of the free tasting that they had attended.
All the unsuccessful attempts were re-called the following day. Thirty-seven of the 59 were
successfully contacted.
Thirty-five percent of people from the call back survey stated that they had bought a bottle of
wine that was on free tasting on the day of the event. This is similar to the figure of 30% taken
from the in-store surveys of people who bought a bottle of wine that was on free tasting. The
similarity between the recalled purchase and the actual purchase (taken at the time of the free
tasting) indicates good recall from the sample.
Ninety percent of those contacted could remember a wine they had tasted, but we did not have
the means to measure whether their memory was accurate. Out of the respondents who recalled
the brand they tasted, 67% (24 people) recalled Penfolds as a brand; all the other mentions were
only of single brands. The Penfolds brand was tasted by only 34% of those called back, but
represented 67% of the wines remembered. This seems to emphasise that well-known brands are
more likely to be recalled than less known or unknown brands.
We divided the call-back sample into those that bought a bottle at the tasting and those that did
not, and cross tabulated this with purchases they made of the wines tasted in the one month after
the tasting (Table 3). Only two people who bought wines at the tasting bought more of the same
wine in the month following. Ten people who bought at the tasting did not buy afterwards, and
10 who did not buy at the tasting bought afterwards. A chi-square test showed these results to be
about the frequencies expected; there was no pattern of those who bought at the tasting buying
more or less wine afterwards.
Table 3 about here
We also asked respondents’ intention to purchase wines they tasted over the next 12 months,
using a 11 point scale based on their perceived likelihood of future purchase (0=0%;
1=10%...10=100%). A one-way ANOVA showed a marginally significant difference (p = .07)
between those who did buy at the tasting (7.5) and those that did not buy at the tasting (5.2). We
can interpret this as purchasing at the tasting is more likely to lead to future purchasing than not
purchasing at the tasting.
Discussion and Implications
The results of the sales data analysis showed that free tastings are a successful promotional tool
in generating an immediate and significant increase in sales. Our data indicate that retailers and
brand owners are likely to more than double (here up to fourfold increase) brand sales due to
hosting a free tasting event compared to sales during the four weeks before or after the tasting.
The results also show that there are significantly more sales in the four weeks after the tasting
date than before. However, Figure 1 indicates that sales figures are quite variable, and they seem
to be influenced by many factors not measured in this paper.
It is important for retailers to acknowledge that these results come from one chain of retail stores
and one approach to conducting a free tasting. Factors, such business account customer sales,
promotional activity other than free tastings, ‘one-off’ bulk sales, and the availability of stock for
the brands on free tasting in the eight week period may all have had an effect on the sales data
illustrated here.
Certainly a fourfold increase in total sales on the day of the tasting generates enough margin to
pay for the tasting stock and personnel. Retailers and wineries should take from this analysis the
knowledge that free tastings do cause an immediate increase in sales on the day of the event and
in this respect are useful promotional tools. The long-term impact is less clear.
The purpose of comparing intention to buy with purchase behaviour was to determine if there is
any correlation between attitudinal responses and behavioural responses. The fact that more
people attend a free tasting with the intention of buying is encouragingit gives free tastings a
sense of purpose because people are attending with the prospect of spending money. When
compared against purchase behaviour though, the data showed that intention to buy is not a good
indication of whether a consumer will buy a wine(s) from a free tasting.
For the retailer, this shows that a free tasting can alter an individual’s preconceived attitude in
relation to whether they intend to buy or not. This has both positive and negative implications.
On the negative side it suggests that even if people attend a free tasting with the intention to buy
they may not the process of tasting has not supported their intention. On the positive side,
consumers who attend with no intention to buy may change their intention and buy. It is the
retailer’s responsibility to draw the consumer in and keep them intrigued in order to close a sale.
Retailers should explore ways to convert those who intend to buy to actually buy and transform
those who do not intend to buy also to buy. Anecdotally, we observed that the retail staff were
very busy during tastings and did not speak in detail to customers when it was so busy. We can
certainly recommend that an increase in the numbers tasting would result in an increase in sales;
anything the retailer can do to increase attendance should increase sales, as long as the store has
the capacity to deal with the extra customers.
The in-store survey showed that customers who attend a free tasting event are buying more of the
brands on tasting than brands not on tasting. In this respect free tastings are successful in
persuading people to opt for brands on tasting over other brands in the store. It implies that
consumers feel more comfortable purchasing brands on free tasting and that the process of
tasting a wine does lead to sales. The staging of a free tasting is therefore useful to both retailer
and winery in achieving an immediate increase in brand sales. The purchase figures on the day of
the free tasting showed that about one third of attendees buy a wine on tasting. This shows that a
reasonable percentage of respondents are buying, but they are in the minority; the other two
thirds appear to be drinking for free. It should be noted, however, that the sales of brands on
tasting outnumbered those not on tasting by 2:1. This may indicate ‘stocking up’ by those buying
the wines on tasting and may indicate the tasting reduced their risk and therefore they purchased
larger quantities.
The survey also indicated there was not much difference in the purchase behaviour between the
different demographic groups. Some of the results are not surprising: that older people tend to be
higher involvement and pay more attention to the brands offered on tasting. There were no
major differences between the genders or the income groups.
Some interesting results came out of the call back analysis. The first is that most of the
respondents recalled a wine brand. Out of the 10 consumers who had attended one of the
Penfolds tastings, 7 were able to remember that it was a Penfolds tasting. This success rate of
70% is higher than that of the rest of the sample. The implications are that brand awareness (or
reach) may be more effective if only one brand is on free tasting. Having only one brand on free
tasting focuses all of the attention onto that brand and the consumer is not bombarded with
various brand names – increasing brand recollection. It could also imply that Penfolds, as a large
and well-established winery, has a stronger brand image than some of the other wines involved
in the free tastings. There were, however, some other ‘big’ name single brand tastings (such as
Leuwin Estate) that did not have such a high recollection. Having only one brand on tasting also
allows the retailer and winery to focus advertising and promotional tools more efficiently
because it provides an opportunity to give the customer information on the brand separate from
the competition.
Limitations and Future Research
Free wine tastings are not the same from one retailer to another. This research used only one
retailer, and therefore the format of each tasting used for the data collection was almost identical.
Other retailers may do things differently and the results could vary.
It would be useful to research this concept further and find more examples of retailers that
conduct free tastings in a different manner and see if the effects vary from one approach to
another. It would also be useful to explore the effects of free tastings in relation to different
global markets, especially in developing wine markets. Does the approach to free tastings differ
depending on the market and, therefore does the effect of a free tasting also differ? We could not
control for the amount of time the sales or tasting staff spent with each customer, so future
research could also look at sales staff activities to see how these influence post-tasting sales.
The work of Lockshin and Kahrimanis’ (1998) showed that customers do consider free tasting as
a relatively important attribute in Australia, but the research also showed that customer’s ranking
of the importance of tasting, as a store attribute does differ between consumers. Conducting the
in-store survey for this research supported this theory. There were a percentage of customers
who did not taste any of the wine being offered on free tasting. This research was not concerned
with individuals who did not taste but it would be useful to understand why some people taste
and others do not.
The relatively small number of those surveyed after the tasting and their agreement to be
surveyed does not necessarily give a good indication of the population attending free wine
tastings. This is even truer of the call back survey. Looking at sales data and conducting the call
back survey over a longer period may produce different results and implications.
Free wine tasting has been generally considered as a mechanism for driving brand sales and
attracting customers into the store, but the true effect of free wine tasting has until now been
overlooked by the academic sector as an area of research. The results of this study provide a
crucial starting point in understanding free wine tastings and the effect they have on customers
and brands. It also provides some data to educate retailers on what the true ramifications of
staging a free tasting are and if they serve as a beneficial promotional tool.
The sales data showed free wine tastings have a pattern similar to previous research on
promotional activity. Free tastings are successful at producing an immediate increase in sales on
the day of the event, which is then followed by a swift decline once the promotion has ended. To
reduce the risk involved in purchasing a bottle of wine, many consumers gather as many
attributes as they can about that wine in order to enhance their knowledge and make the
purchasing decision easier (Chaney, 2000; Thomas and Pickering, 2003). By giving a customer
the opportunity to ‘test drive’ a wine the retailer is providing them with the attribute that is
believed to be the biggest perceived risk when buying a wine (Barber et al 2007) – the taste. The
results support this previous research by showing that customers who attend a tasting do buy
more of the brands that are on free tasting than those not on free tasting. Furthermore, consumers
feel more reassured by a wine if they have received a free sample. Free tasting is successful at
promoting the brands that are offered on free tasting over those that remain on the shop floor on
the day of the event. The research also showed that about one third of customers who attend a
free tasting with an intention to buy actually do - the other two thirds of those tasting who do not
buy. This indicates there is quite a bit of ‘boozing’ going on during free tastings.
Whether are customer will buy from a free tasting on the day does not depend on their intention
to purchase nor their demographic make up, level of involvement in wine, and wine consumption
pattern. Any consumer who attends a free tasting is a potential buyer. An area for concern is that
the number of people attending free tastings appears to be both low and unpredictable. This
research suggests that more emphasis needs to be placed on attracting new consumers to free
tasting events with the aim of both educating wine consumers and improving sales.
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Bottles sold (Units)
Days be fore and afte r tasting
Figure 1: Unit sales of wines on tasting by category before, during, and after the tasting
FREQ 114 60 174
AGE 18 - 21 22 - 25 26 - 35 36 - 45 46 - 60
60 and
over TOTAL
FREQ 3 12 40 28 61 32 176
25,001 -
and over TOTAL
FREQ 11 10 22 23 20 68 154
Table 1: Demographics of the sample
Bought wine on tasting
Intention to buy Yes No
No 11 18
Neutral 11 40
Yes 30 60
Total 52 118
Table 2: Purchases of wine at the tasting by intention to buy before tasting
Chi-square = 3.0; (p = .22)
Bought wine on tasting
Bought within 1
month after the tasting Yes No
No 10 13
Yes 2 10
Total 12 23
Table 3: Purchases of wine after the tasting by whether bought or not at the tasting
Chi-square = 3.1; (p = .22)
... Furthermore, in locations other than wineries, wine tasting can positively influence sales. Scanner data analysed by Lockshin and Knott (2009) showed that sales of wines tasted in shops increased by 400% on the day of tasting, with no difference between customers attending a tasting with the intention to purchase and those just stopping by. ...
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Purpose The pioneers of online wine tastings have set a new standard and introduced an innovative tool that combines various goals: contacting existing and recruiting new customers, entertaining participants and boosting sales. Within the framework of the study, the authors addressed questions such as the reasons for offering online wine tasting, profitability and the basic characteristics and future perspectives of this new interactive online tool. Design/methodology/approach A mixed-methods research was conducted using a sequential exploratory design to analyse online wine tastings during Covid-19 pandemic. First, 40 in-depth interviews in Germany were conducted and, based on these results, a global online survey was undertaken with 1,423 wineries from more than 40 countries. Findings The survey results clearly show the effect of Covid-19 on the growing tendency to employ online wine tastings. This tool is about more than just providing entertainment for wine lovers in that it also has a tangible business aspect. Practical implications Based on these results, the authors assume that online wine tastings will continue to be offered after the Covid-19 crisis. Originality/value This paper offers a situation analysis of the first 10 months of the Covid-19 pandemic in the field of online wine tastings worldwide. The authors conducted a quantitative online survey that built on a qualitative pre-study. Given the fact that no academic paper has been published on the topic, this paper provides first insights on a global scale.
... With such an interest in this environmentally sustainable production system, we investigated consumer willingness to sample and pay the price to offset production costs for wine made from grapes grown using cover crops. Sampling a product before a purchase significantly increases sales (at least double compared to nonevent periods) during in-store events as it reduces the risk for the buyer (Lockshin and Knott, 2009) and often leads to an impulse purchase of the sampled product during the event (Pawar et al., 2016). Specifically, we were interested in identifying consumers who were "likely" to sample a wine made from grapes grown in a particular manner, and with specific benefits such as using cover crops in a vineyard to control weeds and reduce chemical input (or eliminate herbicide use), in addition to improving soil health and reducing soil erosion. ...
Purpose This study aims to characterize several wine consumer segments who were “likely” to sample (i.e. taste before purchasing) wine from vineyards using cover crops, a sustainable production practice that reduces herbicide applications, and identify those with a greater probability of being a viable target market based on survey responses. Design/methodology/approach A total of 956 wine consumers from the Mid-Atlantic and boarding US states were separated into segments based on an ECHAID (exhaustive Chi-square automatic interaction detector) classification tree from internet survey responses. Findings Out of the 12 created segments, 6 ( n = 530, 72% of training data) contained participants who were at least 1.02 times (index score =102%) more “likely” to try the wine compared to the overall sample and were willing to pay $18.99 for a 750-mL bottle of the wine, which included a $1 surcharge to cover associated production costs. Of these, three ( n = 195, 26%) had the greatest potential for which a marketing plan could be developed (index scores of 109%–121%), with over half in each segment willing to pay $20.99 for the bottle of wine, which could motivate growers to consider implementing this sustainable strategy. Originality/value Although several segments of participants were “likely” to sample the sustainably produced wine, an ECHAID classification tree allowed us to identify participants who would not pay $18.99 for a 750-mL bottle of wine, even after learning about the use of cover crops and the trade-off ($1 bottle surcharge). By narrowing the number of potential “likely” segments to those with a greater potential of sampling the wine, more purposeful marketing strategies can be developed based on demographics, attitudes, and behaviors defined in the model.
... From a supply perspective, the dependence of production on natural resources and related supply issues (Santos et al., 2020), general product availability and distribution (Thach and Olsen, 2006), and other marketing-mix factors (e.g., Lockshin and Knott, 2009) sampled counties. The share of liquor sales, for example, is slightly higher in the high and low temperature counties compared to the rest. ...
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Purpose Little research on the influence of external factors, such as weather and holiday periods, on retail sales on alcoholic beverages is available. This study aims to investigate how weekly retail sales of different alcoholic beverages vary in association with daily maximum temperatures and annual federal holidays across selected US counties in the years 2013 to 2015. The research provides information, which can contribute to better sales forecasts. Design/methodology/approach Secondary data of weekly retail sales (volume) of alcoholic beverages from 37,346 stores in 651 counties in the USA are analysed. The data cover on average 21% of all existing US counties and 12% of the total US off-trade retail sales of alcoholic beverages in the period studied (Euromonitor, 2017). Additional data of federal holidays and meteorological data are collated for each county in the sample. Seasonal autoregressive integrated moving average models with exogenous regressors (SARIMAX) are applied to develop forecasting models and to investigate possible relationships and effects. Findings The results indicate that off-trade retail sales of beer, liquor, red and white wine are temperature sensitive throughout the year, while contrary to expectations rosé, sparkling and other wines are not. Sales sensitivities to temperature also differ by geography. In the warmest regions, liquor and white wine sales do not respond to temperature changes, as opposed to the coolest regions, where they are responsive. Public holidays, particularly Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year holidays, represent a constant influencing factor on short-term sales increases for all investigated alcoholic beverage categories. Originality/value This is the first large-scale study of weather and holiday-related sales variations over time, across geographies and different alcoholic beverage categories. Seasonal and non-seasonal short-term sales variations are important for retailers and manufacturers alike. Accounting for expected changes in demand accommodates efficiencies along the supply chain and has implications for retail management, as well as adjusting marketing efforts in competing categories.
... The same as the authors Hoegg and Alba (2007), Elder and Krishna (2010), Hein (2009) present, the paper confirms that the taste of the product may greatly affect the purchase decision and so proportionally, the sampling efficiency. The study results of Lockshin and Knott (2009) indicated on up to 400 per cent sale increase of the promoted items during sampling realization. The paper calls challenge into the product sampling future, while a comparison of the results of Keller and Lehmann (2006). ...
... The same as the authors Hoegg and Alba (2007), Elder and Krishna (2010), Hein (2009) present, the paper confirms that the taste of the product may greatly affect the purchase decision and so proportionally, the sampling efficiency. The study results of Lockshin and Knott (2009) indicated on up to 400 per cent sale increase of the promoted items during sampling realization. The paper calls challenge into the product sampling future, while a comparison of the results of Keller and Lehmann (2006). ...
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Sampling is an important part of marketing for non-durable goods meaning food products. It provides space not only to introduce news on the market but also remind traditional types of products with innovative ingredients, new flavours and other variations. Moreover, the significant role of sampling is to support the sale of promoted products. The participation of promoter sustains this main role of sampling (support the sale). Following this reason, it is necessary to perceive the social aspects of sampling concerning customers and their purchasing decisions. The main purpose of the research is to verify the sampling efficiency concerning the customer purchase decisions in the conditions of the Slovak Republic considering the influence of the promoters, their behaviour and appearance. In addition to price factor impact on customer purchase decisions, the paper solved the social aspects of the interaction with the promoter and the taste of the product. For obtaining relevant results, 484 customers of retail stores and at the same time participants of sampling have been included in the survey. For meeting the stated goal, the methodological tool of the research method was a questionnaire survey which addressed the sampling participants. The paper presents the results that in most cases, Slovak customers don't purchase the product immediately after the sampling. When they decide to buy, the central aspect is the taste of the product and not the price. Thus, in a taste-price ratio, the taste is considered more convincing and more effective. This finding is in contrasts with previous ones about consumer's price sensitivity. Since sampling is a humanized sales promotion, it is also necessary to perceive the social factors of interaction with the promoter on the purchase decision. Sampling participants consider the behaviour of the promoter and communication skills to be significantly more important than the appearance. The results of the research could be useful to reveal a considerable room for improvement concerning purchase decisions after sampling. It can be influenced by increasing attractiveness of sampling by interesting innovations, either in the products themselves or in the forms of sampling provisions.
... Like Hoegg and Alba (2007), Elder and Krishna (2010) and Hein (2009) present, the document confirms that the taste of the product can largely influence the purchasing decision and thus proportionally influence the sampling efficiency. Lockshin and Knott (2009) present results of their study that there is up to 400 % growth of sale of the promoted products during realisation of the sampling. ...
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Product sampling in the retail chains relates to marketing, it makes part of the in-store marketing, and it is one of the sale promotion tools. It used to promote the sales of non-durable products, i.e. food. The paper aimed to find out how it is perceived by customers of retail chains (consumers) in Slovakia. An essential aspect of the sampling effectiveness was verified, namely the addressing of potential customers by the promoters. The article focused on ethical practices during the samplings. The subject of interest was to confirm whether promoters keep basic ethical and moral principles. The repeated request for sampling was one of the points. The vital aspect of the sampling ethics was also considered as well as the truthfulness of customer responses to promoter questions about the taste of the product. The sampling ethics was judged from both viewpoints of the sampling participants. The questionnaire survey was carried out to meet the goal, and the sampling participants were addressed. The online questionnaire method was applied, in which 484 respondents were directed. The survey results have shown that customers perceive samplings positively. Sampling has found its application in Slovakia, and it is a relatively accessible tool for promotion of sales (also from the viewpoint of producers). The promoter is the major contributor to the number of participating customers. The main aspects influencing the level of sampling ethics are the age and gender of the customers. It is believed that at any time, it is appropriate to verify the ethics of one of the sales promotion tools-sampling, and at the same time to find out how customers perceive it. The paper contributes to the area of in-store marketing. It brings findings focused on the popularity of the sampling in practice, purchasing habits of the customers, and at the same time, it opens a space for further improvements.
... Marketers also are seen to use visual merchandizing along with another promotion tool such as public relations (PR) or advertising. A PR event for a brand engaging customers in store increases the sale of the brand relative to those brands that have no such customers engaging events ( Lockshin& Knott, 2009). However irrespective of the wide array and innovative cues being used, store environment strategies should reflect the social cultural relevance of the products displayed (, 2007). ...
The primary purpose of this article is to evaluate the antecedents of decision making process in the Indian context. This article examines the role of store layout towards purchase decision. Furthermore, this paper also examines the influence of store ambience towards purchase decision. Adopting an empirical research design, a standardized questionnaire was employed to analyze the formulated research objectives. The geographical area of this study was carried out in retail outlets of leading sportswear brands in Bengaluru. Simple Random Sampling technique was used in this paper to collect data. After eliminating double-barreled statements, 312 completed responses remained (79.39% response rate). The proposed conceptual framework – “Visual Merchandizing Decisions Model” was tested using Structural Equation Modeling. The findings disclosed that there is significant impact of store layout and store ambience towards purchase decision with regard to sports apparels.
... In a study on wine marketing and sales, Lockshin and Knott (2009) found that free wine tasting signii cantly increased sales on the day of the tasting and during the 4 weeks afterwards. While the purchase of wine and residential real estate cannot be directly equated, this does suggest that experiential marketing promotions may inn u- ence consumer spending. ...
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This paper examines the ways through which real estate developers and their agents facilitate the investment-migration mobility of middle-class investor-migrants in Asia. Drawing from ongoing research conducted in Brunei, Singapore and Iskandar Malaysia, this paper argues that the property marketing industry can be conceptualised as a transnational mobility industry. This is because this intermediary industry (1) exposes potential investor-migrants to the idea of transnational investment-migration; and (2) educates and facilitates the investment-migration of its clients and their capital, especially through the use of subtle marketing strategies such as social activities and exploratory property tours – what I call “property tourism”. As most sales rely on repeat and referral clients, these intermediaries in turn facilitate diverse and multiply overlapped migration mobilities amongst investor-migrants (e.g. tourism, temporary, transnational, retirement). This paper concludes by highlighting the implications of this transnational mobility industry on our understandings of transnational mobility and the perpetuation of inequalities.
... By consuming, the consumer builds expectations of quality that represent the reputation (Shapiro, 1982;Landon & Smith 1997;Kotler et al., 2014). Several studies show that past experience, in fact, has a significant effect on consumer choice (Ling & Lockshin, 2003;Lockshin & Knott, 2009). The objectives of this study are to highlight the importance of factors related to the characteristics of the environment that influence the process of choosing and buying. ...
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The aim of this study is to discover the wine store variables that arouse the desire to purchase in the consumer. Wine is a complex product: its features are better able to be perceived and valued in a suitable sales environment. The store environment contains various stimuli that might be perceived by the customer's senses, and each stimulus offers many variable options. Mehrabian and Russell's framework specifies that individuals react to their environment along at least three dimensions: Pleasure, Arousal, and Dominance (PAD). Dismissing (avoidance) and approaching are the behavioral responses of the consumer to these dimensions. There were 130 responding participants in the store. The relationship between emotions stimulated in the store and behavioral responses, which was mediated by environmental stimuli, were central in the results.
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RESUMEN Continuamente la industria vitivinícola se preocupa de la alta competitividad del sector, creando productos más sofisticados y de mayor calidad. Sin embargo, dejan de lado un punto relevante que es la división o segmentación del mercado, generando estrategias comerciales generalizadas y no desarrollando productos y estrategias de marketing específicas diferenciadoras para mercados con características distintas. La industria de los vinos debe estudiar más en profundidad cuáles son las necesidades y deseos de cada uno de los segmentos de consumidores, para otorgar una mezcla comercial especializada y direccionada a cada segmento. Éste es un estudio exploratorio que muestra las diferencias en las preferencias de consumo y en el comportamiento de compra que presentaron los grupos etarios de una muestra de 488 consumidores de vino de la ciudad de Chillán, Chile. Los resultados indicaron que existen diferencias en las preferencias y en el comportamiento de compra de bebidas alcohólicas, según la edad del consumidor. También existe una correlación positiva entre la razón de consumo " me gusta el vino por su sabor y olor " y las ocasiones preferentes de consumo de vino cotidiana (almuerzo o cena), formal (almuerzo o cena), barbacoas, reuniones familiares y en restaurantes. Esto muestra la importancia de que el sector vitivinícola desarrolle estrategias de comercialización para cada uno de estos segmentos y también priorice que el sabor y olor del producto es fundamental en este mercado.
Conference Paper
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This paper presents the initial results at a country level for a twelve country study of the influencers of consumer choice for wine in retail stores. Using the Best-Worst method the design was replicated in each market to enable the comparison of the influencers of consumer wine choice behaviour across the markets. This is the first paper to present all data for the retail set and presents data at the national level. Further work is underway involving segmentation analysis to identify what segments empirically exist in what markets. The key findings are the global importance of influencers such as previous trial and recommendations and the variation from some markets to others of influencers such as brand, grape variety, food matching and medals/awards. There is an almost global ranking of the least influencer on wine choice of low alcohol level (<13%) and promotional displays.
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Wine marketers use market segmentation to target different products to different segments in order to increase sales, often with little evidence about what influences choice within or between segments. In this paper we provide initial results using a relatively new and very straightforward method for measuring consumer preferences. The best-worst scaling method (also called max-diffs) simply asks consumers to look at sets of products, attributes, or other factors to be compared and choose from each set the best/most favourable and the worst/least favourable. A simple count and manipulation results in a single preference scale, where the differences may be compared as distances rather than rank order. This paper shows how segmenting the consumers using factors such as gender, frequency of consumption, wine involvement and age produce segments with similar preferences for different varietal wines. Two country examples are used, Israel and Australia, to show the ability of the Best-Worst method to develop 'maps' of segments across markets based on patterns of choice. The goal of this paper is to demonstrate the practical and a scholarly usefulness of this approach and to show the method for a larger cross-national study across major wine consuming markets.
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Some wine marketing studies make reference to the importance of wine labels and the information they contain. Others suggests that the information content of wine labels be grouped under seven information positioning statements: namely, parentage, nonpareil, manufacture, attributes, endorsements, end user and end use. Nested within some of these statements is other information commonly associated with wine lables. There is a dearth of research that examines the importance of these seven statements or their expanded state. A questionnaire, exploring the importance of an expanded list of information elements and the importance of front and back labels, was constructed. As these questions formed part of a larger research endeavour, eight versions and two wine types were presented in a mail survey to 1.144 participants. The survey sample was drawn from a national wine mailing list (n=640). plus staff (n=304) and students (n=200) of an academic institution. No follow-up activity was undertaken and a 28% response rate was achieved. A range of behavioural and demographic information was collected. Using a 7-point scale, respondents were asked to indicate how important 14 pieces of information were to them in deciding on which wine to buy. Varied and significant levels of importance exist for some elements of wine label information. For example, front labels were found to be more important than back labels, and this is supported by significant differences amongst some background information. The expansion of parentage into its component parts shows wine company and brand name to be more important than history of wine maker or history of wine region. The results of this research challenge a number of existing findings and beliefs on the importance of various elements of wine label information.
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With the growing urgency to reduce Europe's swelling “wine lake”, further growth in underdeveloped markets is being hampered, in part, by the risks involved in purchasing wine. Perceived risk is a factor which affects consumers' decision making when they are considering a new product choice or a choice in which the “stake” is high. The article considers the importance of various risks, for example, social, financial, functional and physical, to consumers in the UK wine market. The most important perceived risk was the taste of the wine, the least important being the risk of hangover. The group discussions elaborated several other points. Knowing the exact risks people perceive about a product, marketers can set about altering the product in an attempt to reduce those risks thus increasing the competitive differential of the product.
The effectiveness of a sales promotion can be examined by decomposing the sales "bump" during the promotion period into sales increase due to brand switching, purchase time acceleration, and stockpiling. The author proposes a method for such a decomposition whereby brand sales are considered the result of consumer decisions about when, what, and how much to buy. The impact of marketing variables on these three consumer decisions is captured by an Erlang-2 interpurchase time model, a multinomial logit model of brand choice, and a cumulative logit model of purchase quantity. The models are estimated with IRI scanner panel data for regular ground coffee. The results indicate that more than 84% of the sales increase due to promotion comes from brand switching (a very small part of which may be switching between different sizes of the same brand). Purchase acceleration in time accounts for less than 14% of the sales increase, whereas stockpiling due to promotion is a negligible phenomenon accounting for less than 2% of the sales increase.
A factorial experiment measures the impact of in-store displays on sales for different product characteristics. Variables related to growth or competitive structure are found significant, while market share of the test item in the product category, level of price cut, and advertising to sales ratio have no effect on the impact of display.
Consumers make numerous decisions about product purchases and these are influenced by internal and external factors. Manufacturer influence over some external elements can occur through packaging. In wine marketing, packaging and labels assume undeniable influence with packaging forming an integral part of any wine's promotion and consumption. This article reviews New Zealand's wine market against limited available consumer research. The retail environment, segmentation, motives and influences are also examined prior to an elaboration of wine packaging that focuses on labels. It is concluded that New Zealand's wine industry is currently attracted to lucrative export markets and may be limiting its efforts on the home front. The home market, capable of expansion, will require a concentrated consumer research effort aimed at identifying the impact of label perceptions on consumer purchases. Such research ultimately should assist both domestic and international marketing activities.
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to show that new-style retail wine stores with features such as tasting rooms, lecture theatres and demonstration kitchens used to educate and engage customers have better retail efficiency than old-style stores. Design/methodology/approach – Sales dollars, labour hours and litres of inventory depletion from a paired sample of old-style and new-style facilities located in five different communities are submitted to a data envelopment analysis to determine the retail efficiency of the stores. Findings – All the new-build stores had higher retail efficiency than the older stores, and input reductions in older stores were unlikely to bring their performance up to the level of the new store concepts. Originality/value – One of the shortcomings of this research is that the old and new stores in the paired samples are different in size and location within each municipality. While it is clear that the new store features (tasting rooms, seminars, cooking demonstrations, etc.) increase retail efficiency, it remains to know the contribution of each of feature to the improvement in retail performance.