Because consumers nowadays face a wide diversity of wine labels – from very traditional to a range of modern styles that include color and various images – the purpose of this paper is to better understand the effects of the presence of fun elements on wine labels. Specifically, it aims to identify the underlying mechanisms that explain why fun elements on labels can lead to a decrease in consumers’ willingness to pay (WTP) and purchase intentions. The authors also test whether consumers’ risk propensity acts as a boundary condition for this effect.
This research uses an online experiment conducted among a sample of 271 US residents. Multivariate analyses – including analyses of mediation, moderation and moderated mediation – are performed to test the theoretical model of the effects of fun elements on WTP and purchase intentions through reassurance impressions and quality perceptions, and the moderating role of risk propensity.
This research demonstrates that when consumers face a wine label that incorporates a high degree of fun elements, they perceive the label as less reassuring, leading to a decrease in perceived quality, and ultimately exhibit lower WTP and purchase intentions. Importantly, this research also shows that the effects of such wine labels are moderated by the individual variable of risk propensity; consumers react more positively to funny wine labels when they have a higher level of risk propensity.
A limitation of this research lies in that it has been conducted online, while an experiment in a real purchase setting may have yielded results that are more likely to mimic response in the marketplace.
By showing that fun elements in a wine label can negatively affect consumers’ WTP and purchase intentions, this research suggests that wine marketers should be cautious when designing labels. Nevertheless, because consumers who are risk-loving exhibit less negative responses to funny wine labels, wine producers should consider segmenting their consumers on the basis of risk propensity and design front labels with fun elements only for customers who can be classified as risk-loving (vs risk averse).
While prior research recognizes the wide diversity of wine labels and the increasing use of fun elements in labels, no research to date has proposed and validated a model of their effects. This research fills this gap by empirically demonstrating that fun elements in labels have an overall effect of making consumers feel less reassured, leading to a decrease in perceived quality, and ultimately lower WTP and purchase intentions.
The project was supported, in part, by the USDA through Hatch project NYC-121864, Multistate S1067. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The authors are also grateful for the helpful comments and suggestions provided by the Journal's reviewers.
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