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What does your wine label mean to consumers? A semiotic investigation of Bordeaux wine visual codes

Celhay, Franck, Remaud, Hervé
Food quality and preference 2018 v.65 pp. 129-145
concrete, gender, guidelines, marketing, wines
A large body of research has shown that the graphic design of a package influences the perception of the corresponding product and brand. Marketing as well as semiotics literature have therefore acknowledged for a long time that the graphic design of a package is a critical tool for managers to use to communicate about their brands. Yet, the concern remains for managers to understand how the visual aspect of a package does indeed produce the desired meanings among consumers. More research is still needed to provide concrete guidelines on this topic, despite the several studies that have recently contributed to fill this gap.The research presented in this article contributes to the existing body of knowledge by applying a semiotics-based approach to the Bordeaux wine category. The authors conducted content and semiotic analyses of the visual codes for Bordeaux wines. They then tested four labels representative of the Bordeaux wine category with a sample of 932 French respondents through a free-word-association task.The results confirm that semiotic studies can anticipate most of the idea associations that a package’s graphic design is likely to produce in consumers' minds. The results also demonstrate that the associations of ideas generated by package designs are stable across gender, generation, and product expertise. More important, semiotics provides an understanding of which visual attributes are likely to produce which idea associations and why. Therefore, a semiotic approach appears to be a reliable tool for managers to use to help them define their package designs according to the brand's meanings they seek to communicate to their clients.