Region’s specificities such as history, geography and culture can be mobilised to qualify regions` products and confer a competitive advantage to certain products with origin in that region. The returns of a region’s resources depend upon the ability of local firms to appropriate the rents earned and whether consumers value the characteristics of the region that are associated with the product, being disposed to pay a price premium.
In a previous research, using a hedonic price function, which related the price of Portuguese regional wines to its various attributes, we found empirical support to the idea that region of origin matters to consumers, that is, the study showed that some regions of origin had a significant impact on products price. The approach taken was a supply side one, which means we collected prices from different Portuguese retail chains. In this empirical research, we intend to test the same issue questioning directly a certain kind of consumers: those who buy wine to sell it in their small retail shops, restaurants and bars (cafés). Besides the regional designation of origin, other product attributes to be tested are colour, age and special attributes, which all have shown positive effects on price in the previous research.
The main motivation for conducting this research was to bring some more light on the impact of territory information on buyers’ behaviour; in this case, Portuguese wine consumers.
Based on empirical evidence collected through a questionnaire directly implemented in a wholesaler, we could conclude that the dominant factor of influence in the acquisition of wine is the region of origin. Product intrinsic characteristics like colour, age, special references and grape, all have shown not having relevant influence in the decision of the wine consumer, in this case. Also noticeable is that, both, wine specialists and consumers use region of origin as a strong clue to their decision of purchasing or not a certain wine, while the non specialist consumer deposits more interest in the brand.
This way, the empirical research undertaken gives support to the hypothesis that the use of territorial references is a promising strategy to increase the market value of products and sustain differentiation towards competitors.
The regions of Alentejo, Douro and Verde have shown to be the most preferred by the Portuguese consumers. The results obtained through this survey are in line with those of a previous research (FREITAS SANTOS and CADIMA RIBEIRO, 2003). The differences to underline have to do with the inclusion of Verde wine region in the questionnaire, which we didn’t consider in the first study due to not being an ordinary Portuguese table wine, and with Dão, not valued as hypothesized by the survey respondents. Anyway, to better understand the results we got in this last study, we should keep in mind that respondents were people living in the Verde wine region itself.
The fact just mentioned can be taken as a major limitation of this empirical research, as it doesn’t allows us to generalise the results to the country, as a whole. Another limitation comes from the fact that we collected the answers in a single wholesaler. That means that supplier marketing strategy could, at least at certain level, to have influenced costumers’ choices.
A last comment we would like to add as to do with the option we took of approaching consumers’ preferences through the ones stated by the small retailers. Even if a close relationship between retailers and final consumers exists, we are aware that it is not the same thing.