When demand slopes upwards

By Felix Salmon
November 9, 2009
per bottle:

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At least between, say, $3 and $6 per bottle:

Supplying wine to sell at $5, $4, $3 or even two bucks per bottle is not that difficult once you set out to do it. Cheap surplus grapes, cheap surplus wines, low-cost winemaking processes and economies of scale all contribute to extreme value supply. Nope, supply is easy. The challenge, until recently at least, has been selling the stuff.

Studies have repeatedly shown that wine drinkers are influenced by price – but not in the way you learned in Econ 101. A lower price does not always produce more sales because insecure buyers infer quality from price. They assume that higher price means better wine.

I’d like to see some empirical data here, but intuitively it’s at least possible that raising a wine from $3 to $6 per bottle might increase rather than decrease sales. That seems to be changing, as Mike Veseth explains in the rest of the article. But let’s say it holds true here, or once did. This isn’t a case of Veblen goods: drinking a $6 bottle of wine hardly counts as conspicuous consumption. Is there a name for this phenomenon? And is it found elsewhere?

Update: “Fred Engels“, in the comments, makes the excellent point that there’s another place this phenomenon is often found: the stock market, where demand often rises as the price of a stock goes up.

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