Request a Demo

How to Run a Successful Wine Club

October 3, 2018

Wine clubs are a major factor in direct-to-customer (DtC) wine sales. They can account 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.

So how can you ensure that your wine club members are happy? How can you make your wine club a success? 

The problem is, there are costs to running a wine club. These come in two forms: the salary for the person to run the club; and the time they spend running it.

While wine clubs may offer ongoing revenue, many small wineries put clubs in the "too difficult to accomplish" basket. Whereas larger 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!).

1. Tell Your Story

There are a lot of wine clubs out there and many aren't even run by wineries. Bottle shops, online providers and even big companies offer clubs to their customers and members. What sets you apart? Easy: your story. 

These other players may market along the lines of "We love supporting small and local wineries", "Support the wineries with values you share" etc. But you are the wineries. You can cut out the middle man by selling your story straight to those same customers through your marketing strategy.

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 experiment by making traditional wines in new ways. It doesn’t matter what your story is, it only matters getting it out there. 

Draw your customers into your story and inspire their passion. Reach out to visitors to your winery through email campaigns when the harvest is on to let them know the next vintage is happening. Connect them directly to you and your story. It will make every delivery they receive more meaningful and in turn encourage longevity in your members.

2. Spruce Up Your Customer Experience

Cellar doors and tasting rooms are a major advantage for connecting directly with wine club members and potential wine club members. It's something that third party wine club providers cannot offer. With over 90% of people signing up on location, make sure you’re offering the best possible service to customers who visit.

There are many ways that you can provide a better service, read this blog for more info, but it’s about putting your best foot forward. Make customers feel comfortable and be guided by what they want.

There's no "one size fits all" when it comes to people. Different people will come to visit who want different things from the experience. Don't assume. Adjust your selling technique to match them. For instance, ask them which kinds of wines they normally drink. If they say they prefer lighter reds then sell them the lighter reds. If your tasting has a lighter red in it talk it up and if there isn't if possible offer to sub it in for a white wine they don't think they will like.

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 to know them and building a solid foundation. Once they are comfortable and enjoy the wines, get their contact details and talk up the wine club. 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.

3. Offer More Than One Club

Customers like choice, but too much choice can be overwhelming. Only offering one kind of wine club can often be too limiting to a customer, although it can be enormously easier for the winery. Do you let your customers pick their wine? Do you let them decide when they want deliveries? 

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 if possible 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 can get the benefits of having wine clubs, without excessive administration and customers have a much simpler time deciding what club is right for them.

4. Get Personal

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. And do not forget about Loyalty and Credit. A powerful tool that encourages loyalty, not through discounts but credit to spend on future purchases!

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, or maybe even implement a "member of the month" where you chat to them about their favourite wine of yours that you could promo in your newsletter. 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.

5. Use Wine Club Software

We’ve got some bad news for you – Excel is not a wine club management solution. 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 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. 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!


Chat to us today about getting the ultimate wine club software.

Book a Demo

Want to run a successful cellar door?

Our free e-book gives you the tips you need to run a cellar door that creates long term customer engagement, drives repeat sales and promotes your brand.

blog post andrew caillard mw (2)

You May Also Like

These Stories on wine club

Subscribe by Email

No Comments Yet

Let us know what you think