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Tennessee's Wine Industry: Consumer Perceptions, Quality Assurance Programs and Marketing Strategies

Alicia Rihn, Kimberly Jensen and David Hughes

No 319853, Extension Reports from University of Tennessee, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics

Abstract: The Tennessee Wine and Grape Board and Tennessee Department of Agriculture commissioned a research study addressing consumer perceptions and value of Tennessee wines and how those perceptions vary between Tennessee residents and non-residents. The study also addressed consumer perceptions of wine quality assurance programs (QAPs) and local labeling related to Tennessee wines. Together, these objectives provide information about how consumers perceive Tennessee wines, local wines and QAPs, which can be leveraged when making future business and marketing strategies. Internet surveys were used in September 2021 to elicit consumer purchasing behavior, perceptions, and valuations towards Tennessee wines and QAPs. A total of 1,216 U.S. consumers completed the survey, with nearly 61 percent of the sample consisting of Tennessee residents. Non-Tennessee participants were from across the U.S. with Florida, Texas, New York, Georgia and Ohio having the largest levels of participation. Non-Tennessee residents were recruited to participate because they had either recently or planned to visit Tennessee. In general, consumers perceived local and Tennessee wines favorably but do not differentiate between local ingredients, processing/fermentation or sales locations, which implies that local terminology is often positive, but vaguely interpreted by the end consumer. There is an opportunity for the Tennessee wine industry to use this information and take actions to define their own reputation. Consistent quality and positive experiences can aid in maintaining a positive local brand image and reputation, which can benefit wine industry stakeholders throughout the state. Although participants indicated awareness of Tennessee wines and vacations, the results were lower for wine trails and clubs, meaning there is potential to build the customer base for Tennessee wines by making potential customers more aware of wine trails and clubs that are available and feature Tennessee wines. Increased awareness in- and out-of-state could benefit the industry through access to additional markets. For instance, many participants indicated their visits to Tennessee involved visiting family/friends. If more in-state family/ friends are aware of Tennessee wine offerings, a stable local market could be used to attract additional tourists through family connections. These connections also provide the opportunity to explore additional marketing avenues (e.g., restaurants, etc.) that can increase market penetration and product availability to consumers. Beyond local and Tennessee wine perceptions, participants were asked about QAPs and how that relates to their purchasing decisions. Participants indicated they would expect to pay $21.39 per bottle of QAP certified wine (versus an average current spending of $14.89 per bottle of non-QAP wine). Results show that QAPs are perceived as important, could aid in growing the Tennessee wine industry, and that the source influenced its impact on purchasing behavior. In general, QAP sources from within the industry (e.g., associations, wineries) had a more positive impact on purchasing decisions than sources from outside the industry (e.g., universities, independent third-parties, government agencies). Likely this preference is related to the complexity of wine production and flavor development, meaning having a QAP from a source that is familiar with all of the dimensions involved with wine making would align better and likely understand quality better than an organization less familiar with the industry. However, the choice experiment results indicate that a university-based QAP will not impact wine choice, but wine sweetness and Tennessee origins positively influenced choice. These findings suggest that sweetness and origin have a stronger impact than a university QAP. Overall, the results indicate that using an industry-specific organization as a source for the QAP would improve its impact more so than other types of organizations but other wine features (e.g., sweetness, origin) may be more influential on choice. The next section summarizes 15 key insights from the study, followed by a brief introduction, study methods and sample demographics, the in-depth results, a summary, and then recommendations based on the key findings.

Keywords: Agribusiness; Marketing (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 28
Date: 2022-02-01
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-agr, nep-ban and nep-mkt
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DOI: 10.22004/ag.econ.319853

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