Wine clubs are part of the Direct to Consumer (DtC) trend. They allow the winemaker to send large amounts of wine to a selected wine-lover group that has agreed to put their name on a contract. The larger the club, the larger the revenue stream. Even better, most of the wine club shipments are already paid for!
Wine clubs offer great benefits for wineries. Better cash flow, direct contact with customers and no financial dependence on wholesalers. Please see our article on the value chain in the wine industry for more details on these benefits.
While simplicity is a great concept, operating just one single wine club is not very practical:
1. Customers who love your winery and are ready to sign up have different tastes and preferences. Some prefer whites or rosés, other sparkling wines or strong reds.
2. Customers also have different budgets. You should, therefore, have different wine clubs that require different levels of commitment.
3. Mailing List is a good source of additional revenue. A “non-commitment” club is similar to a mailing list in that it allows you to send periodic promotions as you see fit. This is an unfrightening way to engage one-time visitors and customers.
4. You should take care of your “rock stars”. Some members will go above and beyond and become your best brand advocates. Offering them a membership to an exclusive on-invitation-only could be a great way to reward them and cement your friendship.
5. Demographics are also a big differentiator. As alcoholic beverage producers, wineries must observe the minimum legal age requirement to sell their products. In analyzing the demographics of your members, you will see different patterns. Younger generations expect more flexibility and more interactions. Older members are generally happy to receive a box of your wine every six months.
6. Exclusive events. Some members will be delighted to receive invitations to exclusive events. But others (who live far away) will be annoyed since they cannot attend. They will not view your invitations as something valuable to them.
All in all, because your brand is unique, you should create a unique wine club structure that caters to different tastes, budgets, age groups and locales.
To connect with your best possible supporters, and your members, you should operate various wine clubs tailored to your customer needs.