Studying Champagne.. it's a lurk that alot of folks would envy. Hell, I do. Imagine being shipped off to Champagne to do any type of "research"?
Well, 'this guy' from the University of Otago, Dr. Richard Mitchell, current Head of the internationally renowned Tourism Department at the University and very well regarded in the field of consumer research, has done just that. He is soon away to investigate the perception of the Champagne region, THE sparkly beverage, how it has acquired its status of decadence and its constant place at the celebration table.
Before you roll your eyes, as my colleague initially did, consider the dollars and cents at stake with Champagne. Consider how often it is consumed, when and by who? What business wouldn't want to know, in intimate detail, the mind of the consumers, how to maintain the current and gain the confidence of potential consumers?
It may be offending to those of us who don't like to think we are being 'led' to consume, but the truth remains that much of what we buy, from washing powder to cocoa powder, and why it appeals to us, is determined by a whole range of factors. Advertising executives, marketing researchers and sensory scientists are all working on determining these influences and establishing means of predicting consumer preferences in order to guide product development. Companies have a huge invested interest in this information, after all, it is money in their pockets.
It abounds, but doesn't stop, in the food and beverage market. Nearly everything we purchase nowadays has had a fair to extensive design (from focus groups, trained panels, and predictive modeling) to it so we will buy.
However, champagne has something else.. romance, mystique, history and a big reputation. Lucky for Champagne producers, even in tougher economic times, it still maintains its prestigious place.
It's perception appears to be a mystery even to them.
photo credit: Inmagine website