There’s no doubt that wine clubs are a huge factor in direct wine sales. With wine club salesaccounting for up to 33% of DtC profits, a successful wine club not only guarantee sales, but individual members can provide powerful word of mouth marketing and a passion for your wine that cannot be measured.
The problem is, there are costs to running a wine club. These come in two forms – either the cost of a salary to maintain the club or the time of an existing staff member to run it. While they might offer ongoing revenue, many small wineries put clubs in the too hard basket, while bigger wineries continue to lose revenue by not running their clubs efficiently.
The good news is that there are several simple things you can do right now to make your wine club more successful (and profitable!)
Think about your wine club marketing
There are a lot of wine clubs out there and many aren't even run by wineries. With bottle shops, online providers and even big companies sponsoring clubs, you need to sell on the greatest advantage you have. As a winery, that's your story.
You have a connection to your wine and should use this in your wine club marketing. For some wineries, this will be the story of generations who have all created wine or it will be the winemaker who quit a job in corporate finance to pursue a passion. For others, it might be a desire to draw attention to unusual varieties or even experimenting by making traditional wines in new ways. It doesn’t matter what your story is. What matters is that everyone is able to communicate that story and how to connects to your wine club.
Draw your members into your story and inspire their passion. It will make every delivery they receive more meaningful and in turn encourage longevity in your members.
There are many ways that you can provide a better service and that’s for another blog but for now, it’s about putting your best foot forward. Make customers feel comfortable and be guided by what they want. Understand the different people who visit you and adjust your selling technique. Understand that your wine club might be the ultimate goal, but many customers may be unwilling to sign up the first time they interact with you. Instead, focus on getting their contact details and begin to build that ongoing relationship. Stay in touch and continue to sell your story, the benefits of being a wine club member and give them reasons to come back and see you again.
Offer more than one club (but no more than 3)
Customers like choice, but this can be difficult for a business. Do you let your customers pick their wine? Do you let them decide when they want deliveries? The truth is, too many options can be overwhelming for them as well as you and can make it difficult to communicate your club benefits.
That said, a Wine Business Solutions report found that running multiple wine clubs is more profitable, so we recommend running 2 -3 clubs. Your first club should be a winemaker’s selection, where all wines are selected by you. Your second club should allow customers to choose the wines themselves. The third club should be an invite only club, offered only to your top customers. We also recommend that club members should be able to decide how frequently they receive their wine and whether they want to receive all whites, all reds or a mix.
By structuring your clubs this way, wineries are able to get the benefits of wine clubs, without excessive administration while customers have a much simpler time deciding what club is right for them.
Use wine club software
We’ve got some bad news for you – Excel is not software that works. While it might be common practice, it’s simply not a solution for any winery that wants to be running a successful (and time effective) wine club.
In our own research, it is the time a wine club requires that prevents wineries from starting one. Finding the right wine club software means this time requirement is more than cut in half. Most software will support multiple club setups and complete tasks like sign ups, email alerts, batch processing and reporting, while others also integrate with your existing systems and provide marketing support to grow your club engagement. It can also free up the time of your club manager to build relationships with club members instead of simply calling them when their credit card has expired (sounds familiar, right?)
We might be biased, but to us, this is the single most important thing you can do to make your wine club more successful. Yes, there is a cost involved, but this is normally only equivalent to a few cases at most per month and the benefits are incredible.
Design or modify your wine club with your customers in mind. Consider what benefits matter the most to your customers and don’t be afraid to shy away from a discount only model. While many wine clubs will offer some kind of discount, your benefits should go beyond that. Consider free shipping, exclusive events or access to pre-releases as well as a special newsletter just for members.
Think about how you can surprise and delight these customers. Be creative - you could select a club member at random and send them a bottle of wine to thank them. Give them opportunities to learn more directly from your winemaker or get involved in vintage. Think outside the box and don’t be afraid to ask your existing customers what they want. Often, that can be the best place to start.
Understand your wine club
Discover the metrics and benchmarks to measure the performance of your wine club