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Expert Opinion and the Demand for Experience Goods: An Experimental Approach in the Retail Wine Market


  • James Hilger

    (U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service)

  • Greg Rafert

    (Analysis Group)

  • Sofia Villas-Boas

    (University of California at Berkeley)


The effect of expert opinion on demand for experience goods is difficult to quantify, as the relationship between purchases and reviews may be driven by product quality. Further, it is unclear whether a review-based demand effect is due to providing quality or existence information. Using a retail field experiment to overcome these obstacles, we find a significant positive average consumer response to expert opinion labels for wine. Demand decreases for low-scoring wines and increases for wines scoring average or higher. Results indicate that expert opinion labels transmit quality information as opposed to solely shelf visibility. © 2011 The President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Suggested Citation

  • James Hilger & Greg Rafert & Sofia Villas-Boas, 2011. "Expert Opinion and the Demand for Experience Goods: An Experimental Approach in the Retail Wine Market," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 93(4), pages 1289-1296, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:tpr:restat:v:93:y:2011:i:4:p:1289-1296

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Nelson, Phillip, 1970. "Information and Consumer Behavior," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 78(2), pages 311-329, March-Apr.
    2. Montgomery, Cynthia A & Wernerfelt, Birger, 1992. "Risk Reduction and Umbrella Branding," The Journal of Business, University of Chicago Press, vol. 65(1), pages 31-50, January.
    3. George A. Akerlof, 1970. "The Market for "Lemons": Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 84(3), pages 488-500.
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    Cited by:

    1. Villas-Boas, Sofia B & Taylor, Rebecca & Krovetz, Hannah, 2016. "Willingness to Pay for Low Water Footprint Food Choices During Drought," Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley, Working Paper Series qt9vh3x180, Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley.
    2. O. Loginova & A. Mantovani, 2015. "Information and Online Reviews," Working Papers wp996, Dipartimento Scienze Economiche, Universita' di Bologna.
    3. Ralf Dewenter & Ulrich Heimeshoff & Tobias Thomas, 2016. "Media Coverage and Car Manufacturers' Sales," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 36(2), pages 976-982.
    4. Jacobsen, Grant D., 2015. "Consumers, experts, and online product evaluations: Evidence from the brewing industry," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 126(C), pages 114-123.
    5. Engström, Per & Forsell, Eskil, 2013. "Demand effects of consumers’ stated and revealed preferences," Working Paper Series 2013:6, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
    6. repec:nbr:nberch:13949 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Michela Ponzo & Vincenzo Scoppa, 2015. "Experts’ awards and economic success: evidence from an Italian literary prize," Journal of Cultural Economics, Springer;The Association for Cultural Economics International, vol. 39(4), pages 341-367, November.
    8. Oksana Loginova & Andrea Mantovani, 2015. "Price Competition in the Presence of a Web Aggregator," Working Papers 1616, Department of Economics, University of Missouri, revised 17 Aug 2016.
    9. Gustafson, Christopher R. & Lybbert, Travis J. & Sumner, Daniel A., 2016. "Consumer knowledge affects valuation of product attributes: Experimental results for wine," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 65(C), pages 85-94.
    10. Ralf Dewenter & Ulrich Heimeshoff, 2015. "Do expert reviews really drive demand? Evidence from a German car magazine," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 22(14), pages 1150-1153, September.
    11. Gustafson Christopher R., 2015. "The Role of Knowledge in Choice, Valuation, and Outcomes for Multi-Attribute Goods," Journal of Agricultural & Food Industrial Organization, De Gruyter, vol. 13(1), pages 33-43, January.
    12. Suppliet, Moritz, 2017. "Umbrella Branding in Pharmaceutical Markets," Discussion Paper 2017-034, Tilburg University, Tilburg Law and Economic Center.
    13. Christopher R. Gustafson & Travis J. Lybbert & Daniel A. Sumner, 2016. "Consumer sorting and hedonic valuation of wine attributes: exploiting data from a field experiment," Agricultural Economics, International Association of Agricultural Economists, vol. 47(1), pages 91-103, January.
    14. Villas-Boas, Sofia B & Hilger, James & Stevens, Andrew & Hallstein, Eric, 2016. "Measuring Willingness to Pay for Environmental Attributes in Seafood," Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley, Working Paper Series qt6nh0g7fg, Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley.
    15. repec:eee:touman:v:55:y:2016:i:c:p:15-24 is not listed on IDEAS
    16. Amedeo Piolatto, 2015. "Online booking and information: competition and welfare consequences of review aggregators," Working Papers 2015/11, Institut d'Economia de Barcelona (IEB).

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