Wine Business Monthly: "Natural Cork Preferred in Study of Consumer Attitudes about Closures"

February 2012 Issue Wine Business Monthly, taken from 100PercentCork.org

Natural cork remains the overwhelming choice for U.S. wine drinkers because it conveys higher quality than alternative closures, according to results of a recent survey by Tragon Corp., com missioned by the cork industry.

Ninety-four percent of respondents in a survey said they would be more likely to purchase wine with natural cork while 93 percent said natural cork conveys high or very high quality.

The study also showed that the type of closure used on a wine bottle is important in terms of consumer purchase preference. In fact, the type closure used on a bottle of wine was more important than varietal designation and region in the study.

The findings were consistent with results from previous closure preference studies conducted by Tragon. The latest study involved a web-based survey of 347 consumers throughout the San Francisco and Chicago metropolitan areas.

Eighty percent of the consumers participating drink wine at least once a week.

Test subjects were given a series of questions incorporating various combinations of price, closure, varietal and region. By asking which combinations consumers were most likely to purchase, researchers determined the relative importance of the product drivers consumers found most compelling.

Consumers favored natural cork and liked synthetic closures more than screw caps. Synthetics gained ground in the new study in terms of consumer acceptance for everyday use. Just 45 percent of respondents said they'd consider purchasing wine with a screw cap. Seventy-two percent said they'd consider wines with a synthetic closure.

Consumer opinion changed the most for screw caps in the latest study. They were seen as "less appropriate for all occasions" than they were in the study conducted four years prior.

Half of respondents thought wines with screw caps were of low quality and just 11 percent said screw caps conveyed high quality.

"Given a choice of two other closures, screw caps are just perceived as having a lower quality wine," Tragon's vice president, sensory and consumer insights Rebecca Bleibaum said. "Synthetics were always more accepted in our research than screw caps. Last time we found that the people who were buying less expensive wines were more accepting of screw caps and that the people who were buying more expensive wines were less accepting of screw caps: This time we're not seeing that difference by purchase price."

The new Tragon closure study also asked consumers to rate closures by usage occasions. Since Tragon conducted similar studies in 2004 and 2007, the results were trended over time.

Natural cork was "most appropriate" for a dinner party, to give as a gift and for special occasions.

All three types of closures were deemed "appropriate" for an everyday wine at home and at dinner with the family.

Synthetic closures continue to be appropriate for everyday occasions - they gained ground here - but were considered less appropriate for special occasions, gift giving and dinner parties than they had been in the 2007 study.

The survey showed that consumer opinion of screw caps changed, with screw caps now being considered less appropriate for special occasions, gift giving and dinner parties than in 2007, and similar to 2004 levels.

Click here for the original article on 100% Cork's website.

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