How does the ease with which you can pronounce a winery name affect your perception of both the wine and its price? Are wine experts or novices more likely to assign a higher value to wines with complicated names? How do grape names affect your purchase decisions?
In this episode of the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast, I’m chatting with Dr. Antonia Mantonakis, Fellow of the Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute and Professor of Marketing and Consumer Psychology at Brock University’s Goodman School of Business in St. Catharines, Ontario.
You can find the wines we discussed here.
Does a wine’s name affect our perception of its taste and quality?
How was Antonia’s research study designed to focus on how a winery name affects you?
What impact does the ease of pronunciation of a wine’s name have on our pricing expectations?
Why might the effect of this phenomenon on wine enthusiasts surprise you?
Should you be concerned if your winery’s name is easy to pronounce?
Why shouldn’t you directly apply the results of this study to real-world settings?
What preliminary findings have been identified in how consumers perceive grape varietal names?
How might you unconsciously assess wines like Pfaffenheim?
What can you expect from Pfaffenheim Cuvée Bacchus Le Cave Des Vignerons De Pfaffenheim Gewurztraminer 2010?
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About Dr. Antonia Mantonakis
Dr. Antonia Mantonakis is a Fellow of the Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture Institute and a Professor of Marketing and Consumer Psychology at Brock University’s Goodman School of Business in St. Catharines, Ontario.
She is a psychologist by training and holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of Toronto; and has both a Masters in Experimental-Cognitive Psychology and a Doctorate in Experimental-Cognitive Psychology from Simon Fraser University. Her research focuses on the psychological factors that affect consumer behaviour and consumer decision making.
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Transcript & Takeaways
Welcome to episode 88!
How does the ease with which you can pronounce a winery name affect your perception of both the wine and its price? Are wine experts or novices more likely to assign a higher value to wines with complicated names? How do grape names affect your purchase decisions?
That’s exactly what we’ll discover in this episode of the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast. We’re chatting with Dr. Antonia Mantonakis, Professor of Marketing and Consumer Psychology at Brock University’s Goodman School of Business in St. Catharine’s, Ontario.
This is my second conversation with Dr. Mantonakis that took place a few years ago, so keep that in mind as the context for her comments.
I’ll include a link to the video version of this conversation in the show notes, as well the wines we tasted and how you can join me in a free online wine and food pairing class — that’s all at nataliemaclean.com/88.
Okay, on with the show!
You can also watch the video interview with Antonia that includes bonus content and behind-the-scenes questions and answers that weren’t included in this podcast.
Well, there you have it! I hope you enjoyed this chat with Dr. Antonia Mantonakis.
Here are my takeaways:
- I admire how methodical Dr. Mantonakis was to eliminate potential bias or skewed results: two Greek names beginning with the same letter, not a popular wine and other factors.
- Although it may not be surprising that people perceived a difficult-to-pronounce wine of higher quality and they were also willing to pay more for it. However, it is surprising that the difference was even more robust for those who were more knowledgeable about wine.
- She explains that these experts are using more external cues to evaluate a wine quality rather than being more gullible.
- However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that wineries should give their wines difficult names because other factors play into the buying process. For example, if consumers are asking for wines verbally in the liquor store or restaurant they might not attempt to pronounce these names.
- There’s so much research yet to be done, from other languages to real-life settings. I find these insights into consumer behaviour fascinating.
You won’t want to miss next week when I’ll be chatting with Chris Scott, the host of The UK Wine Show, a top-ranked, award-winning podcast. He also heads up a team of 20 wine experts across the UK, between them running more than 500 events and tastings a year. Chris is actually interviewing me in this one.
In the meantime, if you missed episode 35 where I interview Chris and he shares some really smart tasting tips on how to determine the acidity in a wine as well as how tannic it, go back and take a listen. I’ll share a short clip with you now to whet your appetite.
If you liked this episode, please tell a friend about it, especially one who’s interested in the insights on wine names and prices that Dr. Mantonakis shared.
You’ll find links to the wines we tasted, a full transcript of our conversation, the video version of this chat and where you can find us on Facebook live every second Wednesday at 7 pm, and how you can join me in a free online wine and food pairing class — that’s all in the show notes at nataliemaclean.com/88.
Thank-you for taking the time to join me here. I hope something great is in your glass this week, perhaps a Pfaffenheim Gewurztraminer or maybe a Square Rock Red (okay I made that one up)!
Dr. Antonia Mantonakis 0:00
Not only were participants evaluate the taste of the wine as being higher quality in terms of the overall evaluation, when it was more difficult sounding, but participants also reported a higher willingness to pay for the wine.
Natalie MacLean 0:16
I’m assuming that for the difficult one, they were willing to pay more they thought it was a better wine.
Dr. Antonia Mantonakis 0:21
Yes, that’s correct. What was also more interesting that we were a little bit surprised by is that this difference was pronounced even for participants who had higher knowledge about wine. When a consumer is more passionate about wine, they’re really paying attention to the label, it may be the vintage and these other characteristics that they try to use as choose to evaluate the quality
Natalie MacLean 0:47
and that makes more sense not that they would be more gullible, you know, being knowledgeable but that they’re just paying more attention to the details.
Do you have a thirst to learn about wine? Do you love stories about wonderfully obsessive people, hauntingly beautiful places, and amusingly awkward social situations? That’s the blend here on the unreserved wine talk podcast. I’m your host, Natalie MacLean. And each week, I share with you unfiltered conversations with celebrities in the wine world, as well as confessions from my own tipsy journey as I write my third book on this subject. I’m so glad you’re here. Now pass me that bottle please. And let’s get started. Welcome to Episode 88. How does the ease with which you can pronounce a wine name affect your perception of both the wine and its price? Our wine experts are novices more likely to assign a higher value to wines with complicated names and how to grape names affect your purchase decisions. That’s exactly what we’re going to discover in this episode of The unreserved wine talk podcast. we’re chatting with Dr. Antonia Manta naugus, Professor of Marketing and consumer psychology at Brock University’s Goodman School of Business in St. catharines, Ontario. This is my second conversation with Dr. Mountain caucus, which took place a few years ago, so please keep that in mind as the context for her comments. I’ll include a link to the video version of this conversation in the show notes, as well as the wines we tasted, and how you can join me in a free online wine and food pairing class. That’s all in the show notes at Natalie MacLean comm forward slash 88. Okay, on with the show.
Dr. Antonio Manta naugus is a fellow of the cool climate enology and viticulture Institute and Associate Professor of Marketing at the Goodman School of Business and associate Faculty of psychology at Brock University in Niagara, Ontario, Canada. She’s a psychologist by training and holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology from the University of Toronto, and has both a master’s in experimental cognitive psychology and a doctorate in experimental cognitive psychology from Simon Fraser University. Her research focuses on the psychological factors that affect consumer behaviour and consumer decision making, especially to wine. Welcome, Antonia. Thank you. Pray, great to have you here. Now you’ve done a couple of very interesting studies. So we’re going to talk about both of them. The first one I wanted to ask you about, is you’ve come up with some bindings that indicate the ease with which a winery name is pronounced, does have an effect on both our perception of the wine and the price. Maybe you could tell me a little bit about that. Okay. We ran a
Dr. Antonia Mantonakis 4:01
really simple experiment on our participants. For that study, we had participants come here into our lab at our cool climate Institute at Brock University here and we randomly assign participants to taste wine that was labelled either with a difficult to pronounce some winery name like select winery, or an easy to pronounce winery name like to tag this winery. And we also had a third group of participants who sampled the exact same wine but was not given any winery related information. And we wanted to see if this associated winery name had an impact on their perceived taste of the wine, how they evaluated the overall quality of the wine, as well as how much they were willing to pay for the wine in Canadian dollars. I should point out that the wine used in the study was student produced wine here at the university. We just manipulated the labels so that we could really get a sense of You know, keeping the same wine but just changing the label or having no label to, you know, have a really controlled experiment.
Natalie MacLean 5:07
What did you find in terms of the more difficult to pronounce? Those are Greek related names that you’ve chosen a simple one and a more difficult one?
Dr. Antonia Mantonakis 5:15
Yes, we did extensive pre testing on which exact names to use in our experiment because we wanted to control all other variables that could potentially impact the participants evaluation of the wine. So you’ll notice that these two wines easy one in the difficult that I mentioned, they both start with the letter T. They’re both three syllables long, and they’re both Greek sounding names. Now, we pre tested that why name pair as well as a whole host of other name pairs that we could have used in the experiment, to make sure that in the pretest, with a different group of participants, they were matched in terms of pre experimental familiarity that they were equally likely for people to say, yeah, I think I’ve heard of that before. We didn’t want one to be more familiar than The other, we also asked participants about their perceived prototypic ality as a winery name, because again, we didn’t want one to see more prototypical for winery than the other. So we matched all of those variables. When we did the tasting study, we just wanted to make sure that if we found any differences in perceptions for the easy versus difficult to pronounce things versus the control condition, that they were due to the perceived ease or the perceived fluency of pronounciation. So that’s what we did. And our results actually indicated that not only were participants evaluate the taste of the wine as being higher quality, in terms of the overall evaluation, when it was more difficult sounding but participants also reported a higher willingness to pay for the wine was the margin wider, I guess I should say, statistically significant between the difficult and the easy to pronounce. I’m assuming that for the difficult one, they were willing to Pay more they thought it was a better wine. Yes, that’s correct. We compared the ratings for both the difficult to pronounce, winery name wine, as well as the easy to pronounce winery name wine to the control condition. And we found there was no statistically significant difference when you compare the easy versus the control. But there was in fact a difference when you compare the perceptions and the ratings for the difficult to pronounce wine name and the control and, and yeah, they were statistically significant. And what was also more interesting that we were a little bit surprised by is that this difference was pronounced even for participants who had higher knowledge about wine. So we gave participants at the end of the study a brief questionnaire that asks some kind of like wine trivia questions, you know, colour of different grape freidel names for it. instance. And many participants who are more casual consumers tend to get some of these questions incorrect. Whereas more enthusiastic, higher involvement, wine consumers tend to get the majority of these questions correct. And so based on that questionnaire, we were able to look at the data in a different way and see, well, you know, is this finding, does this occur for more casual consumers? Or does it occur for the more knowledgeable and more interested wine enthusiasts, and we actually found that it was even the case. In fact, it was more pronounced the data were more robust for the more knowledgeable consumers, which is kind of surprising.
Natalie MacLean 8:41
Yeah, you think that they have this knowledge, but they’re more influenced by difficult name. Wow. I don’t know if you had enough participants, but were there any differences between say men and women or older younger or anything like that?
Dr. Antonia Mantonakis 8:54
We did look into any other potential demographic variables that we collected and We didn’t find any other differences, the only thing that we did find, as I mentioned was with the enthusiast versus the more casual consumer. And the way we explain that is that when a consumer is more enthusiastic and maybe more passionate about wine, you know, they’re really paying attention to the label, and maybe the vintage and these other characteristics that they try to use as cues to evaluate the quality. So if they’re more likely to use all of the different cues or indicators that they have available to them, then they might just happen to be more influenced by them. And so maybe that is the explanation for a while by we found this
Natalie MacLean 9:38
and then it makes more sense not that they would be more gullible, you know, being knowledgeable, but that they’re just paying more attention to the details. How much more were they willing to pay for the difficult name,
Dr. Antonia Mantonakis 9:50
about $2 on average, which it seems like a small number in an absolute sense, but if you think about the sale of wine, or think about From a pricing standpoint, and from a marketing standpoint, that could translate into a big difference in a large scale. So it’s pretty significant.
Natalie MacLean 10:10
Absolutely. And the the categories are pretty tight and the liquor stores, you know, we think about, or at least the industry, I believe, thinks about premium as being, say 12 to 15. And then there’s a huge jump once you get over $15. And another big drop off in terms of how what percentage of the population is buying wine that say over $20 it’s real Cliff fall, I think.
Dr. Antonia Mantonakis 10:31
That’s right. I agree with you. And so that’s why these findings are very important.
Natalie MacLean 10:37
Okay. And what would you recommend them? Would you take these findings and tell a winery, hey, you should have a difficult name or are there other factors like if you have a difficult to pronounce wine, people are going to be intimidated in terms of asking for it in the liquor store on a restaurant wine list. I mean, what’s the takeaway for the industry? with this?
Dr. Antonia Mantonakis 10:58
He raised a couple really good points. Hear and one is, should we get concerned if our name is a difficult to pronounce. And I should say that this is just one variable. This is just one factor. And we haven’t looked at the relative influence of the sound of the name versus the price versus the familiarity and all of these other variables that we already know about have an impact on consumer decision making. What the takeaway is, is that here’s something new that the industry and consumers should know about and be aware of, and use that if they can in their own research or in their own development, because it’s something that we haven’t really considered before. And so that’s the takeaway here for industry. Now, the second point that you raised, which is a really interesting one about maybe do these findings apply if a consumer is verbally asking for the name of wine in a restaurant, or maybe at the lcbo The other point is that we did this study in a controlled laboratory context, we did it here. And we really tried to isolate the variables and have it in a controlled context. And while that’s really good experimentally that we can confidently say that we’ve isolated all those variables, well, in a real world when a consumer is verbally asking or ordering a wine at a restaurant, well, that’s a different context. And so what we really need to do is try to replicate these findings in a winery or in the lcbo, or in a restaurant to see if these results hold in those contexts. And we don’t have the answer to that. So I just want to caution people to take these findings with a grain of salt because they are laboratory based for now.
Natalie MacLean 12:47
Yes, you know, it’s setting a great foundation because I think the value of all science and research is to pose more questions to understand at least one factor deeply and then to go from there, because you’ve laid a foundation here that I think is pretty simple. And I’m just thinking about what other variables you might test I’m sure you’ve considered lots like different name pairs in different languages like to French sounding names, or the impact of, say, even the Greek names that you chose on a red versus a white wine or, you know, if you’re saying mirlo versus sheraz, if that’s paired in with it, what other kinds of factors might you test in the future?
Dr. Antonia Mantonakis 13:23
I’m happy that you raised the grape freidel sound as a potential variable because that’s the most recent study that we’ve been exploring and we’ve been testing in the lab is how does the ease of pronounciation have a great freidel name effect a consumers evaluation of the taste of the wine and how much they’d be willing to pay for that? You know, we think of the Niagara region for instance, how you know, we’ve produced great Rieslings and create good verts demeanors, and, you know, people go into the winery and say, Can I try the G wine? Okay, you know, and then they’re told Well, just call it the G one. And maybe if they’re encouraged to say coverts demeanour? Is that better or worse, you know, what will that do for the consumer. And so we just pre tested a bunch of grape freidel names that again matched what the first letter was how many syllables and we started running a tasting version of the experiment, very similar to the one I just described with the winery names. And what’s interesting is what we’re finding so far in our results, and these are just preliminary for now, but we’ve found that consumers actually like the easier to pronounce great freidel name better than the more difficult to pronounce. My only explanation for that comes from previous research in psychology on ease of pronunciation for ingredient names for food additive names and things like that and consumers tend to try to avoid any kind of food additives Or ingredient names that sound too unfamiliar or where the letter combinations in the English language are very infrequent, like having an X in there and followed by another consonant or preceded by another consonant, they’ll those kinds of odd letter combinations, which is how consumers tend to evaluate if something is easy or difficult to say. So yes, our preliminary findings for grape freidel names are in line with Well, if the wine is made with this, so it’s an ingredient or it’s something that’s an intrinsic component of the wine and it’s not familiar, it’s it sounds difficult to say, or maybe rare, then consumers maybe tend to want to avoid it. You know, again, it’s one study in the lab. So it’s something that we definitely want to look into further to further explain it.
Natalie MacLean 15:50
Absolutely. That’s fascinating. I wouldn’t have guessed that I would have just made the same assumption that the brand name and the ingredient name so to speak, the grape would have similar findings. But they’re different is even more interesting. So we have Antonia I wine here today we tried to find one that was really difficult. We’ve got the PF that odd combination, Stephan. Hi, how am I saying that correctly?
Dr. Antonia Mantonakis 16:14
I think so. Your guess is as good as mine, but I
Natalie MacLean 16:17
I have mine here with me too. This is an Alsatian Pino Gree I guess we could have done one better and chosen the Governor strengthener but we’ve got a Fahrenheit Pinot green, which came out recently in the lcbo and it’s a nice crisp white. But would this be a typical example of something consumers would definitely find difficult to pronounce to ask for?
Dr. Antonia Mantonakis 16:41
Yes, and what makes it difficult to pronounce is this odd letter combination and odd for the English language this p f combination occurring at the beginning of in the first syllable of the word is something that we don’t encounter very often in the English language for English speaking consumers. Then hi Again, that’s not typical English word. And so that entire combination makes this what would probably come out in our pre tests as being rated as a more difficult to pronounce name that’s not very similar to English, at least our English speaking consumers.
Natalie MacLean 17:18
Absolutely, yeah, that the cultural context is important. So it’s perfect and difficult. Want to see if it’s complex if it tastes as difficult as it is,
Unknown Speaker 17:26
can have a thirst,
Unknown Speaker 17:28
wine discussion without getting thirsty. I wonder if there’s anything because I’m sure importers especially have to face this in their more Anglophone markets of how to take a very traditional winery name or label from Alsace from Germany from countries that have a really different phonetic syllabus, sense of language. Would you have any tips for wineries especially if that are importing
Dr. Antonia Mantonakis 17:53
wines with difficult names? I mean, I guess perceptions on their side that this might be a more expensive one, but always think that it’s a challenge though, getting people to be familiar and comfortable with it. Another really important point you raised is that we ran this study using Greek names with English speaking Canadian population, and most of our participants were from the Niagara region. So people from the community employees at the university here at Brock University and students as well. And the names that we use were difficult to pronounce for those consumers. So we have to keep in mind what the expectations are of the consumers of what’s easy versus what’s difficult to pronounce. Also, their expectations of maybe the country of origin and those other variables that we didn’t examine. I’m a big fan of experiments and doing pre tests and so even just doing some research into what people’s perceptions are and whether they think something is easy versus difficult to pronounce, whether it’s The winery name or the grape freidel name or the combination of both to see what impact that has on consumers preferences could just be so meaningful for a winery or imported wine name or whoever might be interested in knowing the answer. Because it’s going to be different for what the name is and who the consumers are for. Yeah, absolutely. Yes.
Natalie MacLean 19:21
So what do you think of this wine,
Dr. Antonia Mantonakis 19:23
I think is very amazing.
Natalie MacLean 19:26
Actually, I liken it to I really like it. It’s easy to like, it’s very
Dr. Antonia Mantonakis 19:31
easy to like, semi sweet,
Natalie MacLean 19:34
and now it’s got some nice acidity be great for food. Maybe difficult to pronounce dishes or something.
Unknown Speaker 19:40
Dr. Antonia Mantonakis 19:41
Yes. That would be another study that we could run.
Natalie MacLean 19:44
Science has no, no. That’s great. Antonia. Thanks for joining me today for this chat. We’ll chat soon. Thanks, Natalie.
Well, there you have it. Hope you enjoy this chat with Dr. Antonio matinicus. Here are my takeaways. Number one, I admire how methodical Dr. Mountain Agus was to eliminate potential bias or skewed results to Greek names, beginning with the same letters, same number of syllables, not a popular wine and a lot of other factors. Number two, although it may not be surprising that people perceived difficult to pronounce wines of higher quality, and they were also willing to pay more for it, it is surprising that the difference was even more pronounced or robust for those who are more knowledgeable about wine. Number three, Dr. Manta naugus explains that these experts are using more external cues to evaluate a wine quality rather than just being more gullible. Number four, however, that doesn’t necessarily mean that wineries should give their wines names that are difficult to pronounce. Because other factors play a big role in the buying process. For example, if consumers are asking for wines verbally in a liquor store or in a restaurant, they may not even attempt to pronounce these names. And number five, there is so much research yet to be done from other languages to real life settings. I find these insights and consumer behaviour fascinating. You won’t want to miss next week when I’ll be chatting with Chris Scott, the host of the UK wine show, a top ranked award winning podcast. He also heads up a team of 20 wine experts across the UK, between them running more than 500 events and tastings a year. Chris is actually interviewing me in this one. In the meantime, if you missed Episode 35, where I interview Chris, and he shares some really smart tasting tips on how to determine the acidity in a wine, as well as how much tannin it has. Go back Take a listen. I’ll share a short clip with you now to whet your appetite,
Unknown Speaker 22:05
struggle with just the basics of what’s going on, you know, acidity, how do you respond to that? How do you respond to tannins? And the thing no one ever knows about is how it all fits together. It will talk about balance all the time that no one certainly know the public really understand what balance is all about.
Natalie MacLean 22:20
How do you define balance in line,
Unknown Speaker 22:23
I always think of it as two things you’re on one side, you’ve got all the nice stuff. And on the other side, you’ve got the nasty stuff like C Soria, and on the nice side, you’ve got body, you’ve got fruit, and you’ve got sugar. And on the nasty side, you’ve got tannins, acidity, and the burning bit of alcohol. And if you think of a seesaw if one of them’s goes up or down, all the ones on there, so I go up and down and the other side gets suppressed. Most people notice City Heights, sugar, sugar, high acidity, but sugar also hides tenants and also hides the burning feet of alcohol. Have you had a high level of sugar in your wine, you’d suppress all the nasty stuff and vice versa? Just a very simple balance but once you add food in there as well, it gets a little more complicated but still the same ideas.
Natalie MacLean 23:11
If you liked this episode, please tell a friend about it. Especially one who’s interested in the insights on why names and prices that Dr. Mountain aka share. You’ll find the links to the wines we tasted a full transcript of our conversation, the video version of this chat, where you can find me live on Facebook every second Wednesday at 7pm and how you can join me in a free online wine and food pairing class. That’s all in the show notes at Natalie MacLean comm forward slash eight. Thank you for taking the time to join me here. I hope something great is in your glass this week. Perhaps a FAFEN home diverts demeanour or maybe a square rock red. Okay, I made that second one up. Cheers.
You don’t want to miss one juicy episode of this podcast, especially the secret full body bonus episodes that I don’t announce on social media. So subscribe for free now at Natalie MacLean comm forward slash subscribe, maybe here next week cheers