My Weinakademiker thesis, in short...

WineWise told me about the possibility to get a Weinakademiker degree, after finishing my WSET Diploma Course. What to do? Write a thesis for the Weinakademie Österreich. More like: you apply, send a proposal and when that is approved you can start your research. First question that raises: what am I going to research? Because I like writing and researching - yes, I do, for real. I was very glad to have the help of Claudia Bisschops, a Weinakademiker and my guide during this Weinakademiker journey.


The topic

I have worked (and still do) as a marketeer for years. You can therefor say that I am interested in seducing people to buy a certain product or service, and to create friends of a brand. Even more interesting to me is how our brain works - as far as our knowledge on this topic goes of course - and how we can influence this. We know the terms of 'repetition and recognition': telling a consistent story repeatedly has proven to work long term. But how does this work? How do we even make buying decisions? That was not entirely the topic of my thesis but if you are interested: follow my socials as this is a regular topic.

Right, so back to my research. We have landed in the area of neuro science. Within neuro science it is proven that our subconscious brain does most of the work. Super interesting and ingriguing if you ask me. We make our choices mostly with our subconciousness, and we use all our senses: what we see, hear, smell, sense, and taste is all taken into account. Major chances for multisensory marketing here, which is in the rise (do not hesitate to call me if you want to dive into this and what it can do for your brand :) ).

Besides marketeer, I am mostly introverted. Sometimes it is difficult to navigate this extravert-oriented world, especially within marketing and sales. So all together I started wondering: would being more introverted that extraverted - or vice versa - influence the choice of a certain wine label?


Purpose and research question

Research repeatedly showed that the packaging of a product plays an important role the preference for a certain product. For wine this is even more so; there is loads of information available in stores - both online and offline - on different brands, grape varieties, prices, wine regions and sweetness level. We often buy wine based on the information that is provided on the label: we cannot taste a wine before we buy so we assess expected taste and quality based on the wine label (and previous experiences). Once we are home, we can check whether our assessment was right. 

Then there is our behavior: this is linked to where we look at. So if we can measure what we look at, we can research, analyze, and predict behavior. Eye tracking is a widely used method for this, and often used to test the effect of marketing and communications. Eye tracking research shows us what we look at first, where our gaze is drawn to, and how long it takes before we see the intended message for example. 

Put all these brain waves in a blender and tadaaaaa: my research question was born! Does personality influence the preference for a certain wine label?

The goal of my research was to investigate whether there is a significant difference between being introverted/extraverted (the personality part) and the choice for a wine label.


The research

A lot of preparation and literature research later, it is time for the real deal: start researching! I started with an online questionnaire that delivered close to 100 respondents. From this I selected my research group, making sure it represented the overall research population: wine drinking Dutchies. So the selection had similar qualities when it comes to age and gender, and as an extra variable I added a 50/50 division between being introverted vs. being extraverted. Part 1 completed. Then part 2 follows: the eye tracking research. Usually quite expensive because of the equipment which I do not have (yet). So I was very happy that Sjoerd from Effecty was willing, and allowed, to help. He is an expert and knows the eye tracking equipment front to back. He got to wear his lab coat (sorry, no picture available unfortunately) and conduct the eye tracking research while I gave them something to drink and home baked cake. 

Every respondent got to see an image with two different labels: one existing champagne label (very good champagne I can add) with peaceful colors, classic typography and a hand drawn image, and next to that a modern looking, arty, colorful label with modern typography. Both with identical information. And here also: these differences were based on research of course. 

So, we have two wine labels, some time to look at them, followed by the question which one you would buy. That resulted in 23 (because one no-show, sadly) short films that show exactly what each set of eyes was looking at. Hip hip hooray for today's techniques! Throw all that data on a pile and you get a 'heat map': it is the hottest - the red spots - where respondents look at most. Information is also available on what people look at first, longest, and last.

And yayyyy, data shows that 50% of all prefer label A and 50% choose B. Could this mean my hypothesis holds? Let's find out....


The answer...

And this is where most students favorite programs comes in (yes, I am being sarcastic): SPSS. I had to dust of my books on market research and SPSS because it has been a while. In my time - gosh I feel old saying this - there were no DIYs on YouTube on how to conduct certain analyses in SPSS. There is now and it helped me a lot, so very grateful for that. I put in all the data in SPSS and conducted several analyses and what do ya think? There is no significant relationship whatsoever. Not between personality and label preference, nor between label preference vs. age, gender, first look, longest look or last look. I went all in here because I had the data and started to enjoy it.

There are a few pointers for label design that came out of this research, that I will share in a next blog. As far as my research questions goes, no generalizations can be made here. In fact, neuro research is always explorative. It is not conducted with high numbers of respondents because of the major investments involved. My research population of 23 is actually high, with the average being 16. Wow, right?! More research would definitely be relevant here. I am in if you are. Basing marketing strategy and actions on neuro research is something I hope becomes more of a standard within the wine industry. Because spending money on data based facts is better than spending it on a hunch, right? Both might be in line something, they also might not. And that will cost you.


Anyway, feel free to call/WhatsApp/email me if you would like to know more about the research, about me or just want to meet.