The Strategist

How Price Affects Taste

05/11/2015 - 16:35

How to enjoy wine, regardless of its price, and how not to become dependent on price tags

Geoffrey Fairchild
Geoffrey Fairchild
Nutritional value and nutritional properties of the products do not affect consumer preferences. Selection of buyers and buying satisfaction depend on their attitudes and expectations, what was found by German scientists.

- How do adults get to enjoy wine? Very simple: pour it from an expensive bottle, - Paul Bloom, professor of psychology at Yale University, said at a conference TED.

The way in which the consumer evaluates the product depends on expectations. And expectations, in turn, appear based on previous experience, beliefs and prejudices. For example, most people believe that the more a product is expensive, the better. Although, paid not necessarily must be tastier.

Psychology of consumption and marketing specialists have been investigating the extent to which the taste preferences of a person independent of its expectations regarding the product and the actual quality of the latter. According to a study published in the Journal of Marketing Research, the prejudice about wine creates a placebo effect so impressive that it even changes the brain chemistry.

Marketing Specialist Hilke Plassmann from business school INSEAD and neurobiologist Bernd Weber of Bonn University conducted the study. In the experiment, they gave different wines to a group of subjects and told them about the price and the brand of beverage. At the same time, they scanned the brains of the tasters. The subjects thought they try five different wines cost from $ 5 to $ 90.

In fact, they drank only cheap and expensive wine. At the time, the experimenters not always informed them about the drink’s cost.

- Studies have shown that the higher the price tag of products such as chocolate and wine, the more people like them. Even if it is the same wine, or the same chocolate, - the authors of the experiment.

As you might expect, the subjects highly rated the drink, which was considered expensive, although it could refer to any price category. The people did not just say that they liked the costly wine; they actually drank it with great pleasure. This was evidenced by the increasing activity of the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, that is, the parts of the brain responsible for pleasure and reward. It is noteworthy that on the sensory level, the brain responded to the taste, that is, was not sensitive to the expensive wine or cheap. So, precisely expectations determined by price or brand, influenced the impression of the wine.

However, the prejudice determines not only the evaluation of the product’s taste. It can also be misleading with respect to the basic characteristics of a wine. In 2001, Frederic Brochet, Ampelidae wine company’s owner conducted an interesting experiment at the University of Bordeaux. He invited 54 volunteers, many of whom were professional tasters, to try red and white wine and express their opinions. Red wine was described literally as a tart, with notes of wood flavor, like a squeezed red fruit. White, in turn, had different shades of the May flowers and grapefruit. The trick of the experiment was that the wine in both cases was the same – white, just tasteless food coloring was added in the uncorked bottle to present it as red.

Thus the potential placebo effect was demonstrated, and the ubiquity of its manifestations. Doctors and therapists consider this phenomenon for a long time.

If a patient complains of discomfort and doctor suspects hypochondria, it is likely that he will be treated with salt injections, pills and other sweetened homeopathy. And what is important – finally he will be cured.

Now science has proven the existence of a marketing placebo, merging marketing with neuroscience. Advertising and Item positioning control perception and hence the brain. And this is good news for marketers and advertisers, but bad for the sommelier. The first received a powerful and biologically based tool to influence consumers. The second iare now threatened with extinction because of the inefficiency of the profession.

Consumers, too, have something to think about when choosing between exquisite vintage and modest dining next time. Perhaps, it is more profitable to once buy wine decanter and fill it with inexpensive wine. After all, you can say anything you want; the guests will not feel the difference.

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