Re “Wine Study Shows Price Influences Perception”

Svitil, K., (2008). “Wine Study Shows Price Influences Perception.” California Institute of Technology. Visited on October 4, 2010:

This article is a research study about how the region of the brain called the medial orbitofrontal cortex showed higher activity when participants drank wines at a higher price. A wine tasting study was conducted at the California Institute of Technology and Stanford University.

Twenty volunteers tasted five wine samples at different retail prices: $5, $10, $35, $45 and $90 per bottle. The volunteers tasted and evaluated which wines that they found more pleasurable. Two out of five of the wines were the same but one was priced at $10 and one at $90. In the experiment the subjects rated and preferred the $90 priced wine more than the $10, although they did not know that they tasted the same wine.

Cognitive Design

What does the product do?

In this study the cognitive design was a wine tasting experiment. The concept of the research was to experiment on the perception of price on different wines.  The setting was controlled in that the subjects did not know that they tasted the same wine but told that the price was different. While tasting the wine, their brains were scanned by a MRI. Studies showed that higher activity performance when the subjects tasted the $90 wine.

Interaction Design

How does the product do it?

By tasting the wine the subject’s assumption was that the higher priced wine was more pleasurable to them. They did not favor the $10 wine, which was actually the same wine as the $90 one. The interaction design was that the brain encodes pleasure and good decision making based on what information they were given. This may apply to other consumer products, just because something is priced more, doesn’t mean that it is necessarily better. There are plenty of imitation products out there that mimic the same experience as more expensive products.

Interface Design

How does the product feel and look like?

Most people believe that the price and quality of wine are correlated.  The interface design of the product was the tasting of the wine that were the same but priced differently.

  2 comments for “Re “Wine Study Shows Price Influences Perception”

  1. October 27, 2010 at 3:13 pm

    The point here, I think, is that context matters. The product has to be considered as part of its ecosystem: wine + price = product experience

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