Bigger wine glasses in bars have a purpose — to encourage customers to consume more.
A report has shown that sales increase as much as 10 percent when alcoholic drinks are served in bigger glasses. Researchers from University of Cambridge and University of Bristol believe this is because people think they are consuming less per glass.
Their study was a result of their previous work that analyzed the effect of plate and portion sizes in relation to food consumption. They postulated that the same behavioral effect could also be possible in alcoholic beverages.
For their study, they collaborated with a local bar, The Pint Shop. For four months, the bar would rotate use of glasses every two weeks from the regular 300 milliliters (10 ounces) to 370 milliliters (12.5 ounces) and 250 milliliters (8.5 ounces) glass. To see how the size of the glass affect customer's drinking habits, the amount of alcoholic drink remained constant.
They found that alcoholic drinks in smaller glasses had no significant effect, but the bigger wine glasses improved sales to as much as 14.4 percent, after factors such as holidays, temperature and day of the week was adjusted. Initial sales of the bar were recorded at only 8.2 percent before the trial.
"It's not obvious why this should be the case, but one reason may be that larger glasses change our perceptions of the amount of wine, leading us to drink faster and order more," said lead researcher Rachel Pechey. "But it's interesting that we didn't see the opposite effect when we switched to smaller wine glasses."
University of Cambridge Behavior and Health Research Unit director Theresa Marteau said it would be beneficial for officials to mandate average glass sizes to reduce overconsumption particularly because it was previously established that marketing strategies and price drive alcohol consumption.
"We need more research to confirm this effect, but if this is the case then we will need to think how this might be implemented," said Marteau, who is also a behavioral therapist.
Controlling alcohol consumption has been a subject discussion in UK. In the latest research of Drinkaware, it was found that as much as 3.5 million men consume more than 14 units of alcoholic beverages a week. Majority of these heavy consumers, about 90 percent, believe that excessive drinking of alcoholic beverages does not harm their bodies.
The study was published in BMC Public Health on June 7.