If someone offered me two unidentified glasses of wine and asked me to assess their value, I’d get nervous.
Sure, I’d feign competence and do the swirl, sniff, and sip but, without any information about the products, I’d simply choose the more enjoyable and hope it was also the more “valuable.” Yes, this might mean I’d go with the bargain bin basic over the super-rare vintage from eons ago but, apparently, I’m not alone.
In “Life Lessons from an Ad Man,” the recently posted TED talk embedded above, Rory Sutherland explains how advertising adds value to a product by changing our perception of a product instead of changing the actual product itself. I know this notion may seem obvious, especially when directly discussed, but Sutherland’s examples highlight how persuasion has worked as a powerful marketing tool.
In terms of wine, Sutherland quotes the American Institute of Wine Economics [sic]*: “Except for among 5% or 10% of the most knowledgeable people, there is no correlation between quality and enjoyment in wine—except when you tell people how expensive it is, in which case they tend to enjoy the most expensive stuff more.”