How To Approach Your Wine Club

There are multiple considerations when starting a wine club. Structure, frequency, volume, and product choice are all important. While some decisions may be dependent on your production schedule, others are based on your desired brand perception and the goals of your club. As you set out to structure your new wine club, or if you’re reviewing the state of your current club, here are some things to consider.

Don’t Discount Your Product

When I first started a wine club, I thought that discounting the bottle price would attract new club members. This was a mistake—new club members were joining because they loved the experience we offered by visiting the vineyard and connecting with us, the people behind the product. The club offered a way to stay connected with us, our wines, and the place where these wines are grown and produced.

Our last post emphasized the reality that people aren’t just buying your wine—they are buying an experience. By becoming a wine club member, customers are raising their hand and saying, “Hey! I believe in what you do, how you do it, and love the product you make.” Wine club members are seeking belonging in a group, defined by your brand.

CONNECT with Customers

Customers will only assign the value that you define for your product. After watching what several other wineries were doing with their clubs, I did away with the discount on wine and focused squarely on connecting customers with the land, process, and us (the owners) we started to see an increase in club sign ups. We were selling the experience rather than the discount on wine.

Limit Discounts to Shipping

If you are going to discount anything, discount the shipping. It’s proven that discounting shipping is a great incentive to escalate club sales. For example, say you offer a 3, 6, or 12 bottle club that ships twice per year. Consider offering 25% off ground shipping for 3 bottles, 50% off ground shipping for 6 bottles, and no charge for ground shipping on case orders. It’s a nice offer and makes customers feel valued without degrading the value of your wine.

Keep Things Simple

As I developed the wine club, my mantra became Simplicity.

If you’re just starting out, keep your club options simple. Try basing your club choices solely on bottle increments. 3, 6 and 12 bottles choices are easy to manage and provides enough options to satisfy your customers.

Segment Your Messaging

It’s helpful to recognize that every club option you create requires a customized marketing approach. You might give different benefits to escalating club levels and will need to craft marketing messages to cater to each level. VineSpring integrates with MailChimp to make crafting and sending these marketing messages easy.

restrict your shipping options

Finally, if you are shipping wine to customers, only offer one shipping option, “Standard Delivery”. This frees you up to deliver the wine to your club members using the best carrier and method possible for each shipment. For example, you might ship via UPS Ground in California and FedEx 2-Day Air to Hawaii. Or in warm weather months, you might choose a cold chain option to locations that are hot. Whatever the case, Standard Delivery allows you, the admin, to decide which shipment method is best for that club shipment.

Eliminate Barriers to Joining and Belonging to Your Club

Don’t make new members jump through hoops in order to join. I discourage barriers such as requiring a membership commitment for a set amount of time or requiring advanced payment. If someone is at your tasting room and wants to join, simply take their info and then treat them like any other member.

Set Expectations Up Front

Another way to eliminate friction for interested members is to attain addresses where people can accept wine and set delivery expectations up front. Joining a club is more of an emotional choice than it is logical. So, when things get difficult, the customer experience can be painful. Avoid that pain by ensuring that the customer gets their wine without having to deal with the tedious shipping experience that occurs when someone isn’t available to receive a package.

Give the customer control

Don’t make it difficult to update and change membership preferences. If this makes you nervous about possible cancellations that might occur if you make it easier to quit, use a system that provides communication automation so you can nurture your members and re-engage them if their behavior indicates that they intend to leave or have left. Don’t hold your members hostage.

Make your members feel really special

Offer this special group of customers perks in order to keep them engaged and connected to your winery. A few nice touches that make your members feel part of your exclusive group goes a long way.

Consider member perks such as:

  • Access to tours of the vineyard or winery
  • Access to first offering of special wines
  • Concierge service for providing recommendations to your favorite wineries
  • Invitations to exclusive events
  • Access to library or other special bottlings not available to the public
  • Free tasting when they join

What did I miss? Share what you’ve learned about managing a wine club with us!


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BusinessChris Towt