Professor Charles Spence said, “In the absence of any obvious faults, the more you pay for your wine, the better it will taste.” Why? In part because most of us expect more expensive wine to taste better.
This statement rings true for me and is backed up by recent research at the University of Bonn in Germany and the INSEAD Business School published in the American Journal of Market Research. Participants were told they would consume five wines priced at $90, $45, $35, $10, and $5. In reality, the participants consumed only three different wines with two different prices.
The results indicated that the perception of price had a significant effect on taste preferences and how participants rated the wines. Cheaper wines were highly rated because the participants believed they were more expensive.
The researchers found that preconceived beliefs created a placebo effect so strong that the chemistry of the brain changed when MRI readings of the brain of participants were performed to measure their responses. People who were strong reward-seekers or are low in physical self-awareness were more susceptible to having their experience shaped by marketing techniques.
The authors of the study concluded, “Using a novel application of structural brain imaging in combination with behavioral experiments, we are among the first to shed light on individual differences that affect marketing placebo effects. Preconceived beliefs about price may create a placebo effect so strong the actual chemistry of the brain changes.”
Other previous studies have shown that shoppers would be willing to pay more for a bottle of wine if it was in a heavier bottle or served in a heavier glass.