Researchers at the University of British Columbia Okanagan have done a deep dive into what makes the wine tasting experience tick.
UBCO is studying consumer behaviour and branding with a special focus on luxury brands, fashion brand experiences, wineries and wine tourism. Turns out the wine tasting experience is about more than sipping wine.
“We confirmed that a winery consumer’s experience is individual and shaped, in part, by their knowledge of wine and understanding of preference,” says UBCO professor Dr. Annamma Joy. “Not only is the experience influenced by the aesthetics of the winery, the service received and the wine itself, but also by differences between novices, experts and enthusiasts.”
Dr. Joy and her fellow researchers have been studying several Okanagan wineries over three years to document the visitor experiences. Each year, B.C.’s wineries welcome more than a million people, and Dr. Joy’s latest research confirms people are judging more than what is in the glass.
The study shows that several factors including the material features of the winery and the sensorial theme, like music and lighting play an important factor in the overall experience.
"They took note of everything including the landscape, architecture, views from the windows, layout of the store and the physical space of the tastings. Even the social interaction between staff and customers was considered" says Dr. Joy.
The research findings have implications for winery operators as they work to provide the desired consumer experience.
“Wineries that consider the dynamic interaction between customer’s orientation and their level of expertise may create more positive experiences,” says Dr. Joy. “Overall, it is clear that staff being themselves and being sensitive to specific visitor needs and making them feel welcome, is crucial for visitor appreciation of the winery.”
She suggests the findings highlight the importance of a holistic approach to achieving consistency across material features, sensorial modalities and social interactions of a winery.
“By recognizing the interplay of these elements, retailers can strategically design their spaces and interactions to cultivate specific emotional experiences for their customers.” The findings have implications for retailers outside of the wine industry, she adds.
“People desire connection to enhance their experience, and wineries need staff members who are prepared to respond and improvise as needed to strengthen that connection between the customers.”