This thesis helps to address the gap in literature relating to the study of the provision of information to consumers, consumer information search behaviour and consumer information processing and choice behaviour relating to information-intensive products. Throughout the thesis, wine is taken as an example of an information-intensive product. Through a series of four published papers in peer reviewed journals, the thesis examines how firms can control and manipulate the provision of information to consumers and that by restricting the availability of information, the firm can make its target consumers want the product even more. Although secrecy has existed for centuries, as a marketing tool it is relatively new and little is understood about its power or purpose in marketing strategy. The thesis also analyses how consumers process information relating to information-intensive products using mental shortcuts, or heuristics, to substitute price for product quality at increasing rates of product consumption. Finally, the thesis provides a new way in which to segment the luxury wine market based on consumer knowledge together with the timing of consumption.
The thesis provides a number of interesting advancements in marketing and consumer behaviour research. The first advancement examines whether secret wine societies are actually that secret at all and finds that they are not; however this finding does not absolve the need for marketers to use secrecy as a marketing tool. The second advancement provides insight into advertising, blogs and consumer innovativeness and finds a positive relationship between attitude toward advertising and consumer innovativeness. The third advancement finds evidence that consumers’ process information by using the price-quality heuristic, for both sighted and blind tasting experiments. Furthermore, the study finds that blind tasting (deliberate thinking) reinforces sighted tasting (automatic thinking) which contributes to judgement errors about product quality. The fourth advancement is to provide a new way to segment the luxury wine market based on consumer objective knowledge, frequency of consumption and timing of consumption.