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Wine recommendations: who do I believe?

Parsons, Andrew G., Thompson, Ann-Marie
British food journal 2009 v.111 no.9 pp. 1003-1015
wines, retail marketing, consumer information, wine quality, surveys
Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to identify potential recommendation strategies for wine retailers. It aims to investigate the effectiveness of common sources of recommendation in influencing wine purchase decisions for typical customers and consider the value of each recommendation in different store-contexts. Design/methodology/approach - An exploratory survey is conducted, examining the weighting customers give each recommendation source, followed by a laboratory experiment designed to test the influence of recommendation sources in two different store-contexts - supermarket and specialist wine retailer. Statistical analysis was conducted to determine the most effective sources for each retail context. Findings - Insights from the survey suggest that specialist wine retailer customers value personal staff-, staff choice-, and award-based recommendations, whereas supermarket shoppers value awards and bestseller recommendations. The laboratory experiment highlights the distinction between staff credibility and peer group credibility, with the specialist retailer benefiting from staff and award-based recommendations and the supermarket benefiting from bestseller and award-based recommendations. Research limitations/implications - This research demonstrates a need for researchers to consider recommendation sources when building models of consumer choice, and also to consider the store-context in which those recommendations are received. It also appears worthwhile to investigate further the relationship between bestseller lists, peer group credibility, and shopper behaviour when customers are shopping for premium foods. Practical implications - Wine sellers need to be aware of the value of recommendations. Staff recommendations should be encouraged when selling through a specialist wine retailer, whereas peer-group recommendation should be encouraged for supermarket sales. Awards are shown to be a valuable asset in either context. Originality/value - The comparative effectiveness of staff, award, and bestseller-based recommendations in influencing shopper choices for wine is revealed for the first time in this research, allowing researchers and practitioners to appreciate their value in decisions. Furthermore, the impact of the store-context on recommendation value is shown.