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Product involvement and the evaluation of wine quality

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Purpose ? The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between wine drinkers' product involvement and their engagement with wine quality. It examined particularly how they conceptualise quality, how they evaluate it, and the dimensions of quality they focus on. Design/methodology/approach ? The study used focus groups (including wine tasting as a stimulus) and individual interviews to elicit data. Wine drinkers across Australia were informants for the study. Findings ? There appears to be a relationship between involvement level and how wine quality is perceived. Higher-involvement drinkers seemed more inclined to conceptualise wine quality as objective whereas lower-involvement consumers tended to see it as subjective. Lower-involvement informants often focused more on sensory dimensions of wine quality (like flavour or smoothness), while high-involvement drinkers used more cognitive dimensions such as interest or complexity. Further, there appears to be evidence for a group of medium-involvement consumers, with some distinct characteristics. Research limitations/implications ? The research suggests that consumers' understanding of wine quality is substantially dependent on their involvement level. This finding is tentative as the study used only qualitative methods in a single Anglophone country. Nevertheless, there are suggestions that the approach which consumers use to evaluate quality varies depending on involvement level and that consumption behaviour is substantially different. These issues warrant further investigation. Originality/value ? The paper synthesises two aspects of marketing research; the understanding of quality and the concept of involvement.
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Keywords: Australia; Consumer behaviour; Quality; Quality concepts; Wines

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2006

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