The impact of expert opinion in consumer perception of wines

This paper aims to examine the way in which consumers integrate experts' opinions into their own evaluations of a selection of red wines. The authors conduct an experiment to measure the influence of experts' opinions in relation to the complexity of the information, the level of consensus between different experts, and the consumer's level of category knowledge. Confirmation is found for the effect of received information on consumers' product evaluations. Variation is found in relation to the consumer's level of category knowledge. Expert ratings have a stronger influence on individuals with low knowledge of the wine category than on those with high knowledge. The level of consensus between experts and the complexity of the information in this case have no effect on the impact of their opinions. This paper takes a deeper look into the effect of “weak‐tie” personal information sources, particularly the opinions of experts regarding wine. Scientific research into the effect of expert judgments on consumer perceptions is still scant and businesses also need to assess the factors underlying its impact, given that the influence of expert judgment can be as crucial as quality to a product's success. The main feature that distinguishes this paper from the previous literature is that it integrates all three moderating effects in a single experiment: level of expert consensus, the complexity of the information provided and the prior knowledge of the consumer.