A successful wine club can be a huge part of your direct wine sales. After your cellar door, wine clubs are the second most profitable element of your business. On top of that,they ensure sales for a certain amount of product, making it easier to predict things like stock management.
That’s why, despite the time and cost of running a wine club, they remain a staple in wineries across the country. But for many wineries, the costs (both financially and time wise) make it hard to either start a new club or grow your existing one.
So if that’s you, here are our top reasons people aren’t joining your wine club (and more importantly, some handy tips on how you can change that!
However, a Wine Australia survey found that wine club growth was actually up 14% in 2018. So, if you’re finding customers aren’t interested in your wine club, keep reading. It’s probably not the wine club format.
They don’t know about it
The same Wine Australia study found that the vast majority of cellar door visitors purchased wine during their stay, but only 1% of them also joined wine clubs. Even worse, other research has found that 80% of wine club sign ups happen in cellar doors so missing out on customers simply because they don’t know your wine club exists is a huge problem.
The good news is that combating this problem is the simplest of them all – you just need to tell them. We recommend doing this casually as part of the tasting, but also creating signage that can offer more details. If you offer a paper menu or order form, you can also include the information on that. Online, create a page for your club and use your emails and social media to point people to it when appropriate.
Your wine club doesn’t have benefits they want
Different people will join wine clubs for different reasons, so you need to make sure that your benefits appeal to the maximum number of people.
While benefits like discounts and free shipping are important, they are also standard across the board and unlikely to motivate someone to sign up to your club over another. Instead, take the time to consider more unique benefits and see if there are ways you can introduce elements of exclusivity. Whether it's the opportunity for rare events and experiences or early access to new release or rare wines, this can help your club stand out above the rest.
You can’t communicate the wine club benefits
If you have a good range of benefits, the issue could be in the way that you and your staff communicate them.
Be careful of just listing off the full range of benefits - this will come across as insincere and as though you’re just reading from a script. Instead, take the time to engage with customers and find out what benefits are most likely to interest them specifically.
Your wine club isn’t flexible enough
This is one of the major reasons customers don’t join wine clubs. The reality is that your club members are also purchasing wine from other wineries and need to juggle their own collection.
Make sure your wine club has as much flexibility as possible, while not impacting on your ability to effectively run it. If you don’t already, consider adding a club where members can pick their own wines or at least let them decide how many bottles and deliveries they receive in a year. Other options include the ability to pause membership or change the months of their deliveries without penalty.
They’re not ready to yet
A wine club is a commitment and not all customers will be ready to jump on board, particularly if it's the first time they’ve interacted with you.
Instead, your first job should be to make their experience with you as enjoyable as possible. Look at ways you can improve your cellar door, whether it be readjusting staff levels for busier times or adding easy food options to encourage customers to stay longer.
After this, try and get as many customer emails as you can. Once you’ve got a customer’s email address, you can stay in touch with them. Make sure the emails you send them are relevant and not too salesy, but staying front of mind increases the chance of a later sign up.
It’s too confusing to sign up
Customers are unlikely to jump through hoops in order to join your wine club. Every additional step or condition you have is likely to lose customers and the potential problems with this start right at the beginning.
In wanting to offer as much flexibility as possible, many wineries simply offer too many different clubs. This can be confusing for your customers and will often have the opposite effect of what you want.
We recommend running two to three clubs at most. One should be a club where the winery picks the selection and the other a club where the user picks the wine. If you choose to run a third, consider making it an invite only club for your top customers.
They’re worried about their credit card details
The truth is, a lot of wineries are not storing their data correctly and this is a huge issue for wine clubs. Storing your customer details (and most importantly, their credit cards!) in programs like Excel isn't secure and customers who have had issues with this before may be wary of letting it happen again.
Investing in wine club software can remove the burden of this from your winery and put it in the hands of the people who are experts. While there is a cost involved, a good software will also cut down on your admin time, freeing you to spend more time signing up new members and building relationships with existing ones.
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