Why you should update your wine club policies now!

Reviewing an existing or creating a new wine club is an important operation, but, when you run a real-world winery, it is often not a…

Why you should update your wine club policies now!

Reviewing an existing or creating a new wine club is an important operation, but, when you run a real-world winery, it is often not a priority. It falls in the category of important but not urgent things to do…

In large wineries, the wine club is often the responsibility of the Marketing or Direct-to-Consumer (DtC) Manager. More often than not, this person does not have the authority to make important changes to the wine club.

Given the hectic flow of daily activities, chances are you have not reviewed your wine club policies in a while.

I hope this article convinces you that you have put off this task for far too long!

Image credit: http://emergingtech.tbr.edu/strategic-planning-mobilization

Why should I review and update my wine club policies?

As much as we would all like for our customer relationships to last forever, this, of course, is unrealistic! Tastes and expectations are ever evolving. In reviewing your wine club’s operation, you should consider two key measurements:

1) The churn — How many people have left the club this year?

2) The growth — How many people have joined the club this year?

To deepen your relationship with your most trusted customers, you also need to evolve and adapt. A wine club is essentially a social contract between you and your club members. It can be a 140-character or a thousand-page long.

Image credit: http://www.doityourself.com/stry/wine-rack-archery-target

What should you aim for in the contract?

A — Financial transparency

The financial aspect is a crucial part of any contract. In fact, lots of people only consider this one aspect when making a purchase. Therefore, state, as clearly as possible, the financial benefits that come with being a member of your club. Make sure to mention any list price or shipping rebates, and do so prominently! Make this information as easy to understand as possible.

Your members will shop around. Do the same! Visit the websites of fellow winemakers you know and respect. Have a look at their offerings. How do yours compare?

B — Simplicity

In this day and age, news travels in 140-character streams (Twitter). Therefore, you should aim to offer the simplest contract possible. Your club members are not interested in legalistic mumbo jumbo (even the lawyers among them)! I am quite certain they would rather sip a glass of your wine than analyse the mind-numbing clauses of a business contract.

Thoroughly review the description and legal information of your wine club. Look for complexity and remove it. Look for unused options and remove them. Look for every sentence or word you can remove to help potential club members more clearly understand what your club is offering. If you write in English, have a look at Hemingway.

C — Convenience

People tend to travel a lot these days and for extended periods of time. Having to manage a wine shipment while abroad can be difficult and lead to unpleasant surprises (like receiving wine you do not like). Your wine club should offer a way to “pause” the membership for a certain period of time. In the short term, you will earn less during your next club run, but, in the long term, your member will remain faithful to your brand and your club.

Image credit: http://www.yogawineclub.com/

D — Flexibility

Does your club allow members to personalize their club run? For instance, can they select 4 bottles of rosé and 2 bottles of white, instead of 3 and 3?

Can your members add products to a club order? This makes it easier to group different shipments together and to take delivery of products. It also helps to increase sales.

Make your system flexible. If everything is set in stone, your members will need to know which wines they want to drink six months or a year in advance!

E — Members relationship:

Image credit : https://au.pinterest.com/pin/419257046534241323/

Do you record their preferences to ensure the delivery of the types of product that they love? For a red wine club, some members want “only Shiraz”, others “No Cab-Merlot”. Don’t ask the same question again and again.

Is your billing clear and straightforward?

Do you manage expiring credit cards in advance? Members should be given the opportunity to update their credit card info to avoid missing a club run. This will lower your churn and show you genuine commitment in satisfying your members (who wants to miss an expected case of good wine?!!).

Can members update their delivery address and notify you of temporary or permanent changes?


Wine clubs are the part of the Direct to Consumer trend.

74 percent of DtC sales, in terms of case production, are logged by wineries that made less than 2,500 cases in California, according to the Silicon Valley Bank (Wine Searcher article, 2016 Report) in California.

If you have not changed your wine club policies in the last few years, you should think about doing it soon…

In an ideal world, your wine policies should be updated regularly. This should be part of the yearly strategic review of operations, as well as plans for the future. When reviewing your wine club, take the time to do some “ground work”!

  • Have a look at the wine clubs of other wineries and see what inspires you.
  • Ask your most faithful members what they would like to see.
  • Ask the ones that have left why they have left and what could bring them back.
  • Ask your tasting room/cellar door staff what steps could be taken to convince visitors to become club members.

At subscribility, we believe that a wine club is a key differentiator. Your club policies should reflect what feels true and fair, for you and your members. A wine club provides great benefits for your winery, if you don’t make the mistake of taking your members for granted. Always evolve and adapt!