The science of labels

by | Sep 14, 2017 | Blog, Business and Marketing

Science and marketing, believe it or not, can and should be good bedfellows. In the ever-increasing competitive global market you need solid marketing to back your product (I’m assuming it’s probably wine, since you’re reading this blog). And your product must be backed by proper science. I just attended a very interesting presentation at Simei@drinktec here in Munich about the perception of wine value. This is a science in its own right. Obviously a wine’s label is an important aspect of wine marketing, but I had no idea people could go into such depth when it came to wine labelling. The fact is, you can use all the technical innovations and science at your disposal, but without proper marketing your wine will stay on the shelf.

Francesso Celante of Rotas Group (a research institute that knows its stuff when it comes to wine labels) says value must be created. This is achieved by invoking emotion, whichever one it might be, in a specific person when he or she looks at a wine label. The trick is to identify the emotion that drives a consumer to buy a specific wine and then analyse it.

To do this, one must realise that a label is essentially a message.

Any message has three components: sender, content and receiver. The content connects the sender (the producer) with the receiver (the consumer) and by adapting or refining the content, the producer will hopefully realise more sales. Sometimes a label might need to be changed when a new market (China, for example) is targeted –  as one would typically do when seeking growth. This is where you would bring in a specialist like Francesso to study the emotions associated with the visual message the label sends, and attach a value to it. Yes, if you were wondering, it’s a complicated process.

So what message would a producer like to transmit to potential customers? The value mentioned above is determined by exclusivity, something wines certainly have in abundance. Examples are terroir, vintage, age, viticulture and oenological practices and even the type of cork used. People also perceive wine differently (no two tasters are the same) and even the time of day can have an impact on taste. Bottom line: wine is a complex substance and no two bottles are exactly alike.

Here’s a good question: Which wine will the customer choose when he or she stands in front of a crowded shelf in a wine shop or supermarket? An even better question is: How can one put the passion of the winemaker onto the shelf? This is achieved by using the best possible label with the best possible message for your wine. Francesso mentions an experiment where three bottles of the same wine were presented to a tasting panel. Each bottle was given a different label and, predictably, the bottle with the best label consistently achieved the highest score. As an aside – the panel was also given the same three bottles, but with three different prices (e.g. low, medium and high). Guess which wine got the highest score. But price notwithstanding, it is clear that you need a good label.

Neuromarketing is all about studying the emotions that consumers experience when being exposed to a product and applying this knowledge to sell more of whatever is being sold or marketed. Another way of putting it could be the study of the human brain in order to see how it responds to marketing stimuli. Once again, this is a very complicated process, but it is a science that specialists like Francesso can employ to help producers sell more wine.

As Francesso says, “the concept of value does not exist, it is only in your head.” Fundamentally, this is true. You give a wine its exclusivity by means of its label.

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