USDA grant boosts research to improve marketing of Washington wines

Washington State University’s School of Hospitality Business Management has received $500,000 to research and develop virtual reality marketing experiences to increase brand awareness of Washington state wines.

The project is funded by a $250,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and a one-to-one match from the WSU Carson College of Business.  

“The Washington state wine industry continues to face challenges brought on by the COVID‑19 pandemic and relatively low brand awareness among wine consumers hampers market growth,” said Soobin Seo, associate professor of hospitality business management at WSU Everett and principal investigator on the project.

A woman with long dark hair leaning against a tree
Soobin Seo

The research team includes Robert Harrington, director of the School of Hospitality Business Management; Andrew Perkins; associate professor of marketing and director of the Center for Behavioral Business Research; and Demi Deng, doctoral student in hospitality business management.

Using their combined expertise in marketing, technology, and wine management, the research team will study how the Washington wine industry can incorporate virtual reality technology into effective e‑marketing strategies.

“Our goal is to help increase the reputation of the Washington state wine region and develop recommendations that will help position Washington wines as competitive brands,” said Seo.

The grant is part of the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service’s Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program to support research and improve market opportunities for U.S. food and agricultural products.

The project, titled “Integration and development of virtual reality marketing materials for enhancing consumers’ sensory experience of Washington-based wine products,” runs from September 2022 until August 2025.

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