Wine tourism market research: Bringing the psychophysiology lab to the field




Wine tourism is of growing academic and business interest, being also acknowledged as an important driver of rural development. Successful management and marketing decisions, matching visitor demand, requires solid market data. The questionnaire-based survey is one of the most popular approaches to collect quantitative data in tourism, with statistics playing an important role in supporting management decisions. One of the advantages of this data collection method is the possibility of obtaining large amounts of data from large numbers of tourists in a relatively easy, economic, broadly accessible and not too time-consuming way. However, given the subjective character of self-report responses, which are highly influenced by aspects such as social desirability, conscious data processing, validity and reliability of the measures used, many experts argue that questionnaires are insufficient to fully understand human behavior, attitudes and feelings. One way to obtain more objective data is through the use of psychophysiological indicators such as peripheral nervous system measurements, usually collected in the laboratory. The artificial character of this collection method (in the lab) is recognized, however, as its main disadvantage. In the present work, an innovative methodology (through peripheral nervous system measures) for collecting objective data in wine tourism contexts is proposed, thus overcoming the subjectivity of survey data and the possible bias resulting from the collection of objective measures in artificial laboratory contexts. Visitors at two Bairrada wineries wore small portable and wireless sensors to capture their electrocardiogram and electrodermal activity during guided visits to the premises. A small hand-held push button allowed them to register any moment they found particularly interesting or exciting. Signals were recorded on a smartphone by the experimenter, who was part of the visitor group, and who also registered different stimuli and activities along the visit. Additionally, psychophysiological data were complemented by an interview and survey data to enhance the interpretation of results. Preliminary results will be presented, illustrating the potential of this method to produce important and valid evidence in wine tourism, to inform stakeholders about their market and allow better management decisions.