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Estimating wine consumer preferences for sustainability attributes: A discrete choice experiment of Californian Sauvignon blanc purchasers

Tait, Peter, Saunders, Caroline, Dalziel, Paul, Rutherford, Paul, Driver, Timothy, Guenther, Meike
Journal of cleaner production 2019 v.233 pp. 412-420
biodiversity, certification, consumer preferences, energy, growers, pest management, prices, risk, water resources, willingness to pay, wine industry, wines, world markets
In an increasingly saturated global market, winegrowers and wineries have an opportunity for product differentiation born out of environmental and social pressures coupled with growing consumer preferences. The wine industry has seen significant establishment of sustainable certification systems as wine consumers preferences for sustainability have developed. However, there is a risk that the prominent use of symbol and icon type labels may obscure individual sustainability attributes and weaken signalling to consumers searching for specific credentials. Consumers may respond to individual components of sustainability programs differently to others and the use of simplistic symbols and logos makes it difficult for consumers to identify which elements are contained within a scheme.This paper reports on the application of a discrete choice experiment to identify and measure Californian Sauvignon blanc consumer preferences for individual components of sustainability schemes active in-market. A specific objective is to assess the relative importance of sustainability attributes in consumers wine choice against those widely recognised to be influences on choice, namely country-of-origin, price, and quality.Results demonstrate that the presence of sustainability attributes can influence Sauvignon blanc choice and that consumers have a significant positive willingness-to-pay for several of these attributes. Consistent with current understanding we find that price is a core attribute, and that willingness-to-pay varies considerably over where a wine is made and the critic score a wine receives. What this study adds to this narrative is that the role of sustainability in wine consumer choices is significantly determined by specific environmental and social outcomes. Growers and wineries implementing sustainability programs or considering market strategies incorporating sustainability may benefit from increasing attention on attributes more valued by consumers such as management of pests and diseases, and water resources, and less on attributes less valued such as energy or biodiversity management.