Research summary on the use of Terroir as a wine purchasing cue

Due to the current challenging nature of the global wine market, and recent growth in number and strength of competitors from non-traditional wine producing countries, European wine producers are focussing on the potential to develop a competitive advantage through the concept of terroir. However, there are noteworthy challenges to this particular marketing strategy, not least of which is that despite wine industry members’ understanding of it, the consumer’s comprehension of terroir is unknown.
As such, a research project was developed to investigate what the consumer understands of terroir, and how the concept is applied for wine. This stage of the project found that the range of explanations of terroir were various and extensive, but most descriptions could safely be categorised into two components proffered by the wine sector, of the place and practices that contribute to a wine’s character. These two descriptions clustered effectively for consumers based on their experience and interest in wine, a concept also known as involvement. The results suggest that promotional appeals should be designed based on consumer involvement in wine. However, caution should be exercised before implementing any specific communication practices. These results stem from a non-representative sample of the population of France, thereby questioning the generalisability of the findings.
The next stage of this research should be to investigate the generalisability of these findings for the French market, with a view to expanding the scope, should the results support the findings from this study. As such, a group of French, and global collaborators have expressed their interest in adopting an emerging research methodology, called best-worst, which relies on the respondent ranking the importance of factors of wine purchasing. The project aims to realise the utility associated with terroir as a purchasing cue for consumers with different levels of involvement, with respect to other important factors of purchasing across different global markets, thus identifying an avenue of exploitation for the concept of terroir in both European, and export markets.

Authors: WILSON Damien, JOURJON Frédérique

Ecole Supérieure d’Agriculture d’Angers, Laboratoire GRAPPE, 55 Rue Rabelais,
BP 30748, 49007 Angers Cedex 01, France

Email: f.jourjon@groupe-esa.com

Keywords: Terroir, Consumers, Best-Worst Method, Involvement, Wine Purchasing Motivations

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