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The Cost Of Ignorance: Reputational Mark-Up In The Market For Tuscan Red Wines


  • Pedersen, Maja Uhre
  • Persson, Karl Gunnar
  • Sharp, Paul


This paper argues that imperfectly informed consumers use simple signals to identify the characteristics of wine. The geographical denomination and vintage of a wine as well as the characteristics of a specific wine will be considered here. However, the specific characteristics of a wine are difficult to ascertain ex ante given the enormous product variety. The reputation of a denomination will thus be an important guide for consumers when assessing individual wines. Denomination reputation is a function of average quality as revealed by the past performance of producers. The impact of past performance increases over time, since producers consider improved average quality to be an important factor in enhancing the price, but this necessitates monitoring of members in the denomination. The market for and pricing of Tuscan red wines provide a natural experiment because there are a number of denominations characterized by different type, age and quality standards. Furthermore, Tuscan red wines are easily comparable because of great similarities in climate and choice of grape varieties, soil and exposure to sun etc. We show that some denominations have a lower average quality score and that price differentials between denominations are linked to differences in average quality, although consumers tend to exaggerate the quality gap between prestige denominations and others. Thus, a producer in a prestigious denomination benefits from a substantial mark-up relative to an equally good producer from another denomination. We further show that denomination neutral wines have a stronger price-quality relationship than denomination specific wines.

Suggested Citation

  • Pedersen, Maja Uhre & Persson, Karl Gunnar & Sharp, Paul, 2019. "The Cost Of Ignorance: Reputational Mark-Up In The Market For Tuscan Red Wines," Working Papers 295016, American Association of Wine Economists.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:aawewp:295016
    DOI: 10.22004/ag.econ.295016

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    Industrial Organization;

    JEL classification:

    • L15 - Industrial Organization - - Market Structure, Firm Strategy, and Market Performance - - - Information and Product Quality
    • L66 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Manufacturing - - - Food; Beverages; Cosmetics; Tobacco


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