The Influence of Wine’s Reported Health Benefits on Consumer Purchase Behavior

It seems as though every day you hear conflicting reports on the health benefits of wine. Yes—wine is good for you! No—wine is bad for you! Which is it? Aside from the answer not being as simple as yes or no (it depends on each individual and their own personal health conditions), it is always a hot topic and one that could have potential to be used in wine marketing.

Red wine, and in particular, resveratrol, has been touted as harboring a wide variety of health benefits

Photo By Fabio Ingrosso (Flickr: Vinitaly, bottiglia di vino) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo By Fabio Ingrosso (Flickr: Vinitaly, bottiglia di vino) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

including – but not limited to – lowering cardiovascular disease risk to improving lifespan and decreasing the risk of certain cancers. Research is rather conflicting on these health benefits, and many would argue that the amount of wine one would have to consume to get the necessary amount of resveratrol cited to give these health benefits would cause serious harm and even death. Others, however, disagree, in that it’s not all about resveratrol and perhaps this compound working on concert with other antioxidants and healthful compounds in the wine can improve health benefits at much lower volumes.

To date, there is not a lot of research out there on how these reported health benefits of wine affect wine purchase behavior. Do all these news reports about how good wine is for you increase an individuals’ desire to purchase wine?

What is more understood is that wine purchase decisions are frequently influenced by a variety of extrinsic and intrinsic factors, including previous experience with a wine, recommendations, and price. Those few studies that do exist focusing on the effects of health benefits of wine on purchase decision found that those claiming a healthy lifestyle tended to prefer wine, and those with a trust for agribusiness admitted that they would pay more for a wine enriched in resveratrol for the reported health benefits.

A new study in the journal Wine Economics and Policy aimed to further investigate how the reports of health benefits of wine influence purchase behavior. The researchers specifically asked 1) whether prior knowledge of wine’s health benefits influenced wine purchase behavior; 2) who exactly are the consumers who find reports of wine’s health benefits important and influential; and 3) how does purchase behavior change (or not) when looking at consumers with varying health concerns in general.

Super Brief Methods

An online survey was sent out to US residents of legal drinking age asking questions related to wine health knowledge, the health status of the survey taker, and wine consumption and purchase behaviors.

If you want to know more details about what kinds of questions they asked, feel free to ask in the comments.

A total of 211 completed surveys were included in the analysis.

Results

Participant Demographics

  • 65% of survey participants were female.
  • The average age was 40 years.
  • 57% of respondents were employed full time.
  • 20% of respondents were students.
  • The majority of participants were considered “moderate drinkers”, consuming up to 11 glass of wine per month.
  • Over half of participants were considered to be “interested in wine”.
  • 4% of participants claimed to be wine experts.

Purchase and Consumption Behavior

  • 73% of participants reported drinking wine for social reasons, 72% because they enjoyed the taste, and 62% to relax.
  • Taste, price and varietal were found to be the most influential factors for wine purchase decisions (89.1%, 70.2%, and 48.9%, respectively).
  • 60% of participants said that nutrition was only slightly or not that all important when purchasing wine.
  • Brand and label were noted as not being important for participants in their wine purchase decisions.
  • 35% of participants reported that the reported health benefits of wine were not at all important in their purchase decisions.
  • 95% of participants reported reading nutrition labels at least some of the time, while 40.6% reported reading them most of the time or always.
  • Search engines like Yahoo or Google and blogs were the best way to get information about the health benefits of wine, according to participants, while health-specific sites like WedMD and Mayo Clinic were in second place.
  • 7% of participants reported they would be “extremely” or “very” willing to consume wine with increased resveratrol content.
  • The same participants willing to consume wine with increased resveratrol content were also reported to be participants who consumed more wine in general compared with the remaining participants.
  • 17% of the participants said they would be willing to spend more money on a bottle of wine with increased resveratrol content, while 56% said they “maybe” would be willing to spend more.
  • Looking only at the participants that said they would be extremely or very willing to consume wine with increased resveratrol (i.e. about 1/3 of the participants), 42.9% of them said they would be willing to pay more for a bottle, while 4% said they would not (the rest fell somewhere in between).
Photo by Flickr user Seattle Municipal Archives (https://www.flickr.com/photos/seattlemunicipalarchives/4058808950/)

Photo by Flickr user Seattle Municipal Archives (https://www.flickr.com/photos/seattlemunicipalarchives/4058808950/)

Health Status

  • 4% of participants said they had cardiovascular disease.
  • 2% of participants were on prescribed diet from a doctor.
  • 13% of participants said they had health issues related to food and beverage.
  • There was some overlap between the three groups just listed above.
  • Participant reported having health concerns were more likely to drink wine for social and esthetic reasons.
  • Participants with NO health concerns were more likely to report health as being a reason to drink wine than those with health concerns.
  • Participant with health concerns were more likely to drink wine.
  • 3% of participants reported cardiovascular benefits as being the best health benefit of wine.
  • Participants reported white wine having fewer health benefits.
  • A larger chunk of participants reported the health benefits of red wine outweighed those of white wine.
  • 16% of participants reported no health benefits of white wine.
  • There was no association between how healthful a participant thought wine is and the prior health status of that participant.
  • About 1/3 of participants felt wine had a large number of health benefits, while another 1/3 felt wine had only very little.
  • Those believing wine had very few health benefits tended to be older, and were less likely to drink wine for celebratory, esthetic, social, or relaxation purposes. Price, the look of the label, and reported health benefits were also not important for this group.
  • Those believe wine had many health benefits reported more often that they would drink more wine if it was healthier for them. This group reported increased desire to consume wine with increased resveratrol levels, and was also willing to pay more money for a bottle of wine that was enriched for greater health benefits.

Consumer Behavior and Health Benefits

  • After Principle Components Analysis (PCA), participants were determined to be split between four different groups hereby labeled as mature drinkers, wine advocates, influenced drinkers, and health conscious consumers.
  • Mature Drinkers:
    • 4% of participants.
    • Oldest group.
    • More likely to have existing health conditions.
    • Not interested in changing wine consumption habits based on health information.
    • Moderate wine consumers.
  • Wine Advocates:
    • 6% of participants.
    • Most knowledgeable about wine.
    • Most interested in taste, varietal, and other intrinsic factors.
    • Influenced by the reputation of a given wine.
  • Influenced Drinkers:
    • 3% of participants.
    • Youngest group.
    • Identified the most health benefits of wine (tied with health conscious group).
    • Do not tend to drink a lot of wine.
    • Recognize wine as a healthy alternative to other alcohols.
    • Would be willing to drink more wine if a particular wine was shown to be healthier.
  • Health Conscious Consumers:
    • 7% of participants.
    • Identified the most health benefits of wine (tied with influence drinker group).
    • Light drinkers.
    • Drink only for celebratory or social reasons.
    • Not very knowledgeable about wine.
    • Very concerned about how food and beverage influence their health.

Conclusions

Overall, the results of this study paint one of the first few pictures into the demographics and purchase behaviors of wine drinkers when it comes to the health benefits of wine.

There is a lot of information that can be gleaned from these study results, with multiple directions to take

Photo By Francesco Pappalardo (Flickr: Life drops away like wine) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo By Francesco Pappalardo (Flickr: Life drops away like wine) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

for winemakers interested in resveratrol-enhanced wines and wine marketers interested in tapping into the known health benefits of wine.

The majority of wine drinkers in this study felt as though the health benefits of wine were not really that important when making a purchase decision. That being said, a full 1/3 of participants reported they would be willing to pay more for a bottle of wine that was enriched in resveratrol. While it’s not a majority group, there does seem to be a somewhat significant segment of the population (at least in this study) that is somewhat influenced by the health benefits of wine and would be all over a bottle if it were deemed “better for you” than other wines.

In terms of the four groups identified in this study, only 2 – possibly 3 of the groups would be worth marketing the health benefits of wine toward. The mature group appears to be “set in their ways” and likely will not respond to such a campaign, whereas the wine advocate group MIGHT respond and the influenced drinkers and health conscious consumers would be the most likely targets for a health benefits of wine campaign.

It is important to note the sample size of this study was relatively small (only 211 people), so I wouldn’t take the results completely to heart. I do think the results are a good start in this field of wine marketing, and that more studies with larger and more diverse sample sizes is required to gain a better understanding of the concept of consumer behavior based on the health benefits of wine.

Source:

Higgins, L.M., and Llanos, E. 2015. A healthy indulgence? Wine consumers and the health benefits of wine. Wine Economics and Policy doi:10.1016/j.wep.2015.01.001

2 comments for “The Influence of Wine’s Reported Health Benefits on Consumer Purchase Behavior

  1. July 9, 2015 at 3:01 pm

    Anecdotally I get a few emails a month from people saying “I have heard that drinking wine is good for you. I don’t drink wine now, but if I started, which wine should I drink.” After telling them to discuss it with a doctor and pointing out that not drinking may be of a greater benefit than drinking, I mention that an LBV port might be good, since it stores well once open, allowing them to have a medication sized tipple with a flavor that is easy to enjoy.

  2. Niklas Graste
    July 24, 2015 at 3:53 am

    Your post gives useful tips on health benefits of wine and consumer behavior. Your post also highlights some important statistics. Thanks for sharing useful information.

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