First Advisor

Maureen O'Connor

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Business Administration: Marketing and University Honors


Business Administration


Semiotics, Wine labels -- Design, Wine bottles -- Labeling, Generation Y -- Attitudes, Wine -- Prices -- Public opinion, Consumer behavior




Research shows that Millennial customers rely on a front package label as their primary purchase factor when determining a product's worth, but there is little research as to what each element on a label communicates to a customer, and specifically, to a Millennial customer.

Traditional semiotic analysis uses a qualitative approach to discover how attitudes and perceptions of brands are communicated to the consumer. The semiotic method looks to the subconscious consumer interpretations of emblems, icons, fonts, colors and other visual graphic components of a brand to uncover how different elements communicate to an individual.

It is also known that the wine industry has seen a substantial increase in consumption from the Millennial generation over the past decade. Using wine labels as a field of investigation, this study uses a semiotic approach to determine the design elements and attributes that contribute to a Millennial’s interpretation of wine value.

A random selection of twenty Millennials in Portland, Oregon, were asked to sort preselected wine bottles [representing a wide array of semiotic emblems] into lexical groups of semiotic perception. A qualitative semiotic analysis was conducted alongside a free word association test to determine the semiotic codes and lexical themes that produce idea associations to Millennial customers.

This study confirmed a range of previous research indicating the influence of semiotics in merchandising for markets with low concentration and high differentiation. Using intentional semiotic implementation, a merchandiser can strengthen idea associations surrounding a wine brand and predict how a Millennial consumer is likely to perceive their wine value.

Semiotics will assist in the differentiation of a brand in markets with low centration and high industry competition. This study will help merchandising managers position their brand through subconscious communication with the consumer in the form of semiotics.


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