Within a competing global food market marketing strategies become ever more important; in Italy an important marketing strategy in the wine sector focuses on the so‐called designations of origins (Appellations). This paper aims to analyse the public perception of regional wines with designation of origins.
A semi‐structured questionnaire was administered to a sample of wine consumers in national wine shows in Rome and the provinces. The questionnaire aimed at testing consumers' knowledge and preferences toward wines with a designation of origin produced within the Lazio region. A multivariate analysis has clustered consumers according to their behaviors in relation to wines with a designation of origin. A perception analysis relative to the knowledge and meaning of designations of origins was further performed. The latter has made it possible to rank regional wines and to establish the market effect of designations of origin.
With regard to behaviors toward wines with a designation of origin, the data suggest three ideal‐types of customers: “sensible” (i.e. customers knowledgeable of the meaning of designations of origins); “indifferent”; and “thrifty” (i.e. customers who understand the importance of designation of origins but are also conscious of price). The conclusions indicate that a designation of origin is a necessary but not a sufficient factor for having a good market performance.
Implications in terms of marketing strategies are evident: wine production is characterized by different worlds of production and marketing strategies should be consequential.
The enthusiasm towards designations of origin is not always justified: the proliferation of designations of origin can de‐sensitize consumers with dramatic effects on rural territories whose economy rotates around the production of quality wines. Organizational adjustment and more efficient communication strategies are indeed necessary complements to obtaining an appellation.
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