This research explores (1) whether the experience of a winery visit may lead to a customer’s emotional attachment to the place where the winery is located and (2) whether this can lead to the establishment of long lasting relationships and loyalty to the place. The context of the study is the wine region of Friuli Colli Orientali in the North East of Italy.
Using a mixed-method approach, data from across the zone of Friuli Colli Orientali were obtained through a combination of interviews and a questionnaire survey. With responses from 10 wine buyers in a series of interviews and 210 usable questionnaires, the authors test the study’s hypotheses to investigate the behaviors of wine clients.
Findings show that a positive winery experience – consisting of relaxing, educational, entertaining, aesthetical and well-served tasting of good products - in a winery, develop both emotional attachment and subsequent loyalty to the place in which the winery is located.
For marketers, it is necessary to have a positive overall experience with a place-based brand. Providing customers with the above positive experiences make them feel attached to the place in which the winery is located and make them desire to return and become loyal visitors of the area. The wineries, providing positive experiences, should make all customers feel at home, attached and should encourage them to visit the zone again. Repeated visits will increase place attachment and subsequently, place loyalty. It is also necessary to gain new customers. The study shows that if the current clients are satisfied, they will spread positive WOM, encouraging other travellers to visit the place-based brand.
Several contributions have been made to the literatures. First, the study identified place-based brand experience (PBBE) dimensions in a winery visit. Second, the study provided information to clarify the relationships between place-based brand experience, brand attachment and brand loyalty in a framework. Finally, the study demonstrated that place-based brand experience lead to place attachment and place loyalty in a new context.