International Journal of Wine Business Research

ISSN: 1751-1062

Article publication date: 17 August 2012



Orth, U.R. (2012), "Editorial", International Journal of Wine Business Research, Vol. 24 No. 3. https://doi.org/10.1108/ijwbr.2012.04324caa.001



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited


Article Type: Editorial From: International Journal of Wine Business Research, Volume 24, Issue 3

Following this year’s special issue are four regular research papers and three personal viewpoints. Three of the research papers focus on electronic media hereby reflecting a growing interest of both researchers and practitioners in capabilities and possible drawbacks of using web sites, social media, and wine blogs. The fourth article tackles the timeless issue of how subjective consumer knowledge.

Web sites are designed to assist marketers in communicating with target audiences. Ranging from the simple to the complex, numerous winery and wine brand web sites shape visitor perceptions, detail assortments, or facilitate purchase. Given that web sites are accessible to broad and possibly very heterogeneous audiences, readability and comprehension becomes a major issue. Vancouver-based authors Mills, Pitt and Sattari investigate the readability of 20 popular wine brand web sites in the USA from a perspective of target demographics. Employing content analysis the researchers compute 13 readability indices for each web site. The results indicate large variance with some web sites requiring 5th to 7th and others requiring 8.5th to 11th grade reading skills (associated with the USA education system) for full comprehension. The authors suggest that these differences may reflect two different schools of management thought and brand positioning, one aimed at targeting more sophisticated wine buyers and the other at younger, broader, and less wine-savvy audiences.

Like the first article, this issue’s second article also adopts a unique and very appealing approach to generate insights and support managerial decision making. Specifically, Mana Farshid and her co-authors use Chernoff faces to represent multi-dimensional consumer perception of wine brands in social media. Further noteworthy is the source of data as brand scores relate to wine brand visibility (mention) in social media and thus to user-generated rather than researcher-initiated content. Examining six Sauternes wine brands as an example shows that pairing content analysis with Chernoff faces yields an easy-to-comprehend graphical tool for managers interested in comparative metrics for their brands.

A major issue across online environments is trust. Focusing on wine bloggers, Canadian researchers grouped around Louise Heslop identify what signals and signaling patterns convey trustworthiness to consumers. Two major contributions of the article lie with the development of a theoretically grounded signal classification scheme and the validation of this scheme based on content analysis. Practical relevance stems from a distinction between ability and character signals, and commercial versus non-commercial intent of wine bloggers. While wine marketers may find great value in guidelines on how bloggers can secure reader trustworthiness, the findings may fruitfully extend to other information environments.

The fourth research article, authored by Bordeaux scholar Catherine Viot, provides readers with insights into how consumers’ subjective expertise in wine affects their decision making. Quantitative data obtained from a sample of French consumers suggests that not only use less knowledgeable consumers (novices rather than experts) different attributes for choosing wine, they also rely on a smaller number of attributes, and chose from an evoked set different than more knowledgeable consumers. While researchers may find the simultaneous attention to attribute importance, number of attributes, consideration set size and structure notable, practitioners may benefit from the corresponding detailed findings illustrated in a variety of social settings.

Being the exception to the rule (to publish research articles only), the present issue holds three brief personal viewpoints on the achievements of a distinguished wine business researcher. In a personal e-mail, dated February 6, 2012, Tony Spawton wrote:

After a 24 year association with the original and rebranded journal the time has come for me to retire. Having established the Journal when there were no academic researchers interested in understanding the way the sector behaved and operated to what is now a very active AWBR [Academy of Wine Business Research] the time has come for me to disappear into the sunset and leave the editorial work to others. It has been an interesting journey from those early pioneering days and very fulfilling to see now so many academics and professionals contributing to the journal and to the intellectual development of the business of wine into the future. […] I wish you well for the future to the continued success of the journal.

Three prominent colleagues share their appreciation of Tony Spawton’s achievements from very personal perspectives. I want to express my sincere gratitude for their contribution.

Ulrich R. Orth

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