Wine. Who doesn't like a good glass of wine? The definition of 'good' being quite important here. Much research has been done on the art or science of wine tasting and wine classification. It turns out, we humans aren't particularly good at it, experts or not. Nor are we very consistent. But that does not stop us from experiencing a good glass of wine. And while we aren't very good in blind wine tasting, we are even worse when there is more information to deal with. Label design, clarity of the font, the description of the grape, the shape of the bottle, none of that goes into our mouth but it influences our taste buds dramatically. But by far the most important element is of course… price.
Research shows that if people are being told they are going to taste two different wines with a significant price difference but in reality are actually tasting one and the same bottle of wine, they will enjoy the 'more expensive' wine significantly. Because we believe the more expensive wine is of more value, we also place more value on the experience of drinking that particular wine versus a cheaper one. We actually enjoy it more. It really is a case of 'getting what you paid for'. Does that mean every business can just slap a 50% price increase on their products and their customers will automatically be more satisfied with it? Of course not, but it does teach us another lesson.
It shows that while wine is the main ingredient in a tasting wine, the real value comes together when all elements like label design, price and so on, line up and match or exceed the customers expectation. The story of the wine trading startup Vinetrade is telling. Aimed at bringing transparency to wine trading and removing the middle men by offering an online wine trading platform, it removed some of the things people enjoy when it comes to buying wine. The cloak that hangs over the understanding of wine and its value, the opportunity to present yourself as a connoisseur, these are thing that bring value to the wine experience and by removing it, Vinetrade made wine buying less exciting. The site was shut down in 2013.
So it turns out that wine cannot be judged on just what is inside the bottle. Everything around it matters. It's worthwhile looking at what makes up the whole experience for your product or service. What elements are a core part of the perception of value? The best way to find out is to observe people with your products. Watch them use it, hear them talk about it. Just like with wine, you can find out what elements are a crucial part of determining the value of the experience. It only works if everything is aligned. This is where design thinking comes in. There are many different tried and tested ways to put together the full view on what makes an experience work and what does not. Head over to servicedesigntools.org site for very useful templates and how-to instructions.
For instance, the price category of the bottle that you take as a gift to your in-laws is a totally different decision from what you buy to drink at home or with your friends on the beach. One company played with that to label their wines accordingly.
And most importantly as the new year is almost amongst us, enjoy your wine!