Communication of sustainability through the wine label design: an experimental study
Authors: Anna Firsova, Tao Xi
Abstract: The wine culture itself is a very old and complex system that includes nature, territory, culture, tradition and human factor. The main mean of communication between the wine consumer and the producer himself is the wine label. It was in the 17th Century that, for the first time, a wine producer called decided to specify the origin of his wine on the bottle. Nevertheless, the wine label became a fundamental element of wine only in the end of 19th century during the industrial revolution, when a real consumes market was born.Nowadays we must take into consideration the fact that different countries produce wine for different markets, bringing different symbology and cultural meaning to their labels. After underlining how the wine packaging can convey cultural and symbolical meanings, it is then easy to agree that it is also possible to communicate the importance of ecological sustainability through a bottle of wine. Some elements of the packaging may explicitly refer to ecological sustainability, such as the BIO (biological) certificates that a cellar can obtain by respecting some specific standards. In this case the producer will apply this mark to the bottle in order to assure the consumer on the sustainability of the wine he is about to drink.In other cases, the communication of ecological sustainability can be more subtle and can be found in different components of the bottle: the cork, the label, the glass itself. The materials choice is in fact extremely important, because it can communicate a lot about the producer’s point of view.Nevertheless, what most probably will catch the eye of the consumer is the label. The label is like a white canvass and there the producer has the chance to convey all of his credo in ways that can be more or less explicit. The symbology plays a fundamental role in the labels’ design, and many are the already established visual codes which are used.Eco-labels are meant to minimise the information gap that might exist between the producers of eco-products and the consumers. This can be pursued by providing information about a product's environmentally responsible attributes.Generally, attributes such as social and environmental performance are aspects of a product that consumers can hardly identify. An important help often come from eco-labels, which can induce informed purchasing choices by environmentally responsible consumers.The purpose of this study is to investigate how the wine packaging design can be improved in order to enhance the ecological message and to increasingly involve the final consumer.The main objective of this research is to examine the role of wine packaging in making sustainable choices and investigate what is the impact of using sustainable materials in the wine packaging. In particular, within the framework of this research, it will be interesting to investigate if the label design, and sustainability-related elements on it, can have a major influence on the consumer’s choice making.The target group of the experiment is represented by wine shops and supermarkets customers of legal drinking age (21+). The participants declared to buy wine one or more times in a week.An on-line questionnaire was designed in order to explore the perception of consumers toward awareness of sustainability. The second phase of the experiment is to understand the consumers’ wine choices applying a Discrete Choice Experiment (DCE). DCEs allow researchers to catch consumers’ stated preferences from hypothetical choice situations using a combination of product attributes. In order to choose the attributes for the discrete choice experiment, a qualitative analysis was conducted together with the focus groups. Analysing the outcomes, it was possible to point out 5 main attributes. The economical aspect plays an important role when purchasing a wine bottle, for this reason, at least 2 bottles from the same group classification but belonging to different price ranges should be used in the experiment. For the experiment a total amount of 10 bottles is used on the DCE and then analysed.This experiment helps to understand and analyse the critical elements that condition the choice making process and understand how to educate wine consumers to sustainability, simply through the label design.Many actions can be taken, starting from the information that a label provides and the tools that should be used in order to more efficiently convey the message to the final consumer.
Keywords: sustainability, communication, eco, wine, desecrate choice experiment, bio, green, packaging, consumer, fmcg
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