Expensive Wine Is Not Always Better

May 24, 2008 05:00 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
A mediocre wine is more likely to be enjoyed if it costs a lot, according to a recent study. Shoppers are often drawn to high prices.

30-Second Summary

Researchers from the California Institute of Technology used brain imaging to prove a higher price makes wine more enjoyable. Participants in the test enjoyed a sample wine more when they were told it cost $90 than when the alleged price was only $10.

“People's beliefs about the quality of a wine affect how well it tastes for the brain,” said Antonio Rangel, who headed the experiment.

An article in ScienceNOW called this the “placebo effect” of marketing. Placebo drugs are dummy medications that produce positive effects in patients through the power of belief.

In a similar way, companies can sometimes persuade consumers that their products are good just by jacking up their prices.

However, not everyone has lost faith in the power of taste. One commentator quoted by the BBC said that the participants may have responded differently had they been paying for the wine. Not everyone enjoys a pricey product more than a more affordable version.

Factors such as a consumer’s knowledge of the product, personality type and cultural background may affect how they respond to marketing techniques, some experts argued.

Headline: Pleasure is paying through the nose

Reactions: Weighing the study’s results

Opinion & Analysis: The power of marketing

Related Topic: The placebo effect


Most Recent Beyond The Headlines