Wine Club Members are the Lifeblood of Many Wineries.

The fancy marketing name for wine clubs is “continuity sales” – or a customer who agrees to continually buy from you.

If you think about it, name another industry that asks for a credit card and says “You don’t know what products you’ll receive, or when it will arrive, or exactly how much it will cost, but we’ll send you periodic shipments of our product and just charge you”.

That is a lot of trust.

Trust is built on relationships and relationships with customers start in the tasting room. The tasting room remains the largest acquisition channel for wine club members.

Here are three tips to help you build relationships with prospective club members in the tasting room.


Determine Your Customer’s Needs

The customer’s needs are quite complex which makes your job a challenge to identify their specific needs. With an average conversion rate for wine clubs hovering around 5%, that means 1 person out of 20 will sign up for the wine club when asked. It takes a lot of questions to get to know a customer in order to provide them with what you think fits best for them. Check out a few examples below of clues of potential customer needs, and how you might position the wine club to meet them.

THINGS CUSTOMERS SAY

“We’re having a great time on our vacation. This has been the trip of a lifetime!”

THE CUSTOMER NEED

They might want to take a piece of their vacation home with them. Hey, a Wine Club is perfect for that!

“I’d like to learn more about wine.I never know what to choose.” If they like what they’re tasting, your wine club would be perfect. Mention the winemaker chooses different varietals and vintages and sends them to your doorstep with notes.It is a great way to boost your knowledge in the privacy of your home.
“I’m a collector/wine enthusiast.” Your wine club is the perfect fit because club members receive many exclusive items – club exclusive wines, complimentary tastings, exclusive events and more.

We’re sure you can come up with more examples, but our customers will give us clues about their needs – we just need to ensure we’re listening! And the more you can position your wine club to meet them, the more successful you will be.

Beware of the Discount Motivation

You will notice we haven’t mentioned discounts as a selling technique. Due to the complex three-tier distribution system we have in this industry, buying direct from the winery isn’t usually the cheapest way for customers to acquire our wines. A typical wine club discount is there to offset the shipping fees, and make any widely distributed wines comparable to what a customer would find at retail. But, rarely is a wine club the cheapest option for customers. If a customer is under this impression, they will often be disappointed, feel cheated, and quickly cancel.

Many wineries use special discounts offered at the time of sign up. For example, “If you sign up today, you get this bonus” Ensure management is monitoring the cancellation rate on these offers, especially if you’re being compensated on tenure. Many wineries require a club member receive a certain number of shipments before the employee that signed them up gets the bounty. If it seems you’re signing up several new wine club members each month and not receiving the club signup bonus, it could be because you’re selling based on an initial discount. Customers only interested in the discount and not the club benefits are picking up on the advantage of a “sign-up-then-cancel” strategy. When you’re salary depends on it, you want to ensure you’re maximizing your opportunity and not letting potential money walk out the door.

Remember, Wine Club Members are VIPs

Have you ever felt as though your wine club members seem like freeloaders when they come in for their free tastings and bring friends? We must not forget it’s their routine purchases of wine outside the tasting room that pays our salary. Be sure not to confuse sales in the tasting room with the overall value of the customer. In fact, some customers with the most money buy so much wine they can’t be bothered to carry it themselves – they’d rather have it delivered to their house or cellar location.So, while you may not be getting the sales, tips, or sign-up bounty when a club member shows up in your tasting room, remember they are why you have a job.As reported in the Direct to Consumer Symposium in San Francisco this past January, the average tenure for a wine club member is 18 months
And, the more of them you lose, the harder everyone has to work to sign up more to replace them to keep the lights on.

Take your time and try to delight and surprise them at every visit.Have a special bottle under the bar or special glassware. If staff and time allows, give a little backstage tour of what is going on at the moment.Regardless of the initial sign up motivation, the motivation to continue in a wine club is always the exclusive feeling they get that this is their slice of wine country they can share with friends. The second they don’t feel special, is the second you have the potential to lose them.


For more about wine club metrics or for tips to increase your wine club conversion in the tasting room and retention of current wine club members, contact VingDirect. We specialize in helping you maximize your wine club using staff training, dashboards and consulting.