Do Consumers Avoid Genetically Modified Wines?

25725080022_cd89993d82_z[We’re pleased to welcome Christina Chi of Washington State University. Christina recently published an article in Cornell Hospitality Quarterly entitled “Ready to Embrace Genetically Modified Wines? The Role of Knowledge Exposure and Intrinsic Wine Attributes” with co-authors Lu Lu of Washington State University and Imran Rahman of Auburn University.]

  • What inspired you to be interested in this topic?

The consumption of genetically modified (GM) products is one of the most debatable and significant issues that influence consumers’ purchase behaviors and dining trends. As a critical component of hospitality business, alcoholic beverages (e.g., wines) are highly influential on guests’ dining experience and business revenues. However, existing research provides little insight concerning consumers’ experience with GM wines and their purchase decisions. Therefore, we were inspired to open up a research avenue in this area.

  • Were there findings that were surprising to you?

What slightly surprised us was the strength of aroma and taste in wine drinkers’ decision making. Our study reveals that consumers’ decision making is solely driven by wines’ aroma and taste, which override health or environmental concerns. This finding is critical for wine sellers to better understand the importance of different wine attributes in influencing wine appreciation and purchase decision making.

  • How do you see this study influencing future research and/or practice?

CQ CoverIn addition to opening up a significant but underexplored research stream, this study highlights the rigor of using experimental approach and sensory techniques to understand the behavioral dynamics of experiential products, which may not be fully captured using self-report surveys. More importantly, this research delivers timely strategies for the industry against the backdrop of labeling GM products and offers an in-depth analysis of wine drinkers’ behavior involving conflicts of choice.

The abstract for the paper:

This study examines whether knowledge exposure and supreme wine attributes such as appearance, aroma, taste, and hangover avoidance influence consumers’ quality evaluation and purchase intentions of genetically modified (GM) wines. We conducted two experimental studies in two different settings involving a total of 321 subjects. Results indicate that educating consumers with knowledge on GM wines efficiently reduces the fear caused by GM identity. Importantly, the desirable organoleptic and functional performances of GM wines not only reduce consumers’ concerns with GM products but also enable GM wines to surpass conventional options that are less salient in these performances. Specifically, consumers would choose a GM wine over traditional options if the GM wine has a superior appearance and the ability to eliminate a hangover. Furthermore, consumers express equal acceptance of GM wines and traditional counterparts when there are no differences in aroma and taste. This research delivers significant implications for wine marketing through examining a timely and controversial subject matter.

You can read “Ready to Embrace Genetically Modified Wines? The Role of Knowledge Exposure and Intrinsic Wine Attributes” from Cornell Hospitality Quarterly free for the next two weeks by clicking here. Want to know all about the latest research from Cornell Hospitality QuarterlyClick here to sign up for e-alerts!

*Wine image attributed to James Petts (CC)

Christina Geng-Qing Chi is an associate professor at the School of Hospitality Business Management in the Carson College of Business, Washington State University. Her area of research includes tourism marketing, hospitality/tourism consumer behavior and sustainability in tourism/ hospitality industry. Her research has been published broadly in top tier tourism/hospitality journals and presented at numerous hospitality/tourism conferences. Dr. Chi serves on the editorial boards for several hospitality/tourism journals and reviews papers for top tier hospitality/tourism journals.

Imran Rahman is an Assistant Professor in the department of Nutrition, Dietetics, and Hospitality Management at Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama, USA. His current research program focuses on sustainability in the hospitality industry with an emphasis on consumer behavior in green hotels. He is also actively researching in food and beverage emphasizing primarily on wine consumer behavior.

Lu Lu is a Ph.D. candidate and instructor of School of Hospitality Business Management, Carson College of Business at Washington State University. Her research interests encompass consumer behavior in food and beverage consumption, culture and tourists’ destination experience and complaining efforts.

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Scott Willows

Colleen, I do not think our customers give a damn whether the wine in their glass has been genetically modified.
Their concerns are taste, appearance and price.
I have always had an issue with anti-GM crusaders.
If you live in Africa and your family has to worry about starving every year….GM products are just fine.

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