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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The taste of a label : do visual sensory cues on a wine label impact the sensory taste of the wine? Esau, Darcen


The goal of this research is to understand the influence of wine label visual sensory cues on the perceived sensory taste of wine. This five-phase research study uses consumer culture theory as a framework, which views consumers as identity seekers navigating opportunities in the marketplace that provide a message that embraces who they are based on their own experiences (Askegaard & Linnet, 2011). With increasing experience, wine drinkers create associations between verbal and visual cues on the label, that form expectations for how the wine should taste. This study refers to these variables as visual sensory cues, which become associated with sensory attributes and bias the sensory experience of wine. Visual sensory cues on a label help form the brand image of the wine that impacts purchase intent and appeal (Hoegg & Alba, 2007b). Brand image is measured using four categories; brand personality, design style, narratives, and conveyance of luxury. Willingness-to-pay is used as a measurement to assign value to visual sensory cues and determine if this results in a cross-modal sensory association that impacts the taste of the wine. This study uses the epistemological approach of pragmatism to mix methods from different paradigms on their basis of usefulness to addressing the research questions (Collins & Hussey, 2014). These methods include a quantitative online survey using seventeen uniquely classified wine labels. The survey reveals that wine drinkers anticipate a wine will taste better after seeing a label they identify with. An in-person taste shows that wine drinkers were unable to discriminate between two wines using only taste. A second in-person taste test using the same two wines and two uniquely visually classified labels demonstrates that when consumers identify with a label, they believe the wine tastes better. Follow-up in-depth interviews find wine drinkers look for a label that is “for someone like me” and this impacts the overall sensory experience of the wine. The results of this research reveal a cross-modal association that results when a wine label is identified with through visual sensory cues and this process influences the actual taste of the wine.

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