COVID-Proof Your Wine Club

How to Minimize Attrition

Wine Clubs are the bread and butter of many wineries. Wine Clubs are the main, reliable channel for revenue that allows wineries to buy the grapes, make payroll, pay the overhead. The traditional way of building wine clubs has been through tasting room visits – that’s often where most people are introduced to our brands. So, what happens when visitor counts are seriously impacted? We need to a get creative and find ways to not be dependent on onsite/the tasting room.

To avoid attrition, we’ll need to not only find new members to join, but to keep the ones we have. Here are some ideas on how to keep our members.

1. Keep ‘em. Love the one you’re with. Treat the current club members well to avoid losing them.

A. Continue to build relationships and trust.

  • They joined for a reason and fermenting these reasons is part of building the relationship.
  • Don’t just communicate when it’s time to send a shipment.
  • Understand your members’ needs and address those needs as much and as often as possible
  • Keep your wine club’s web page updated.
  • Use emotional storytelling with your materials/communications

B. Make the Member Feel Special. Consider ways to make them feel appreciated as a club member:

  • Member-only virtual events with option to invite friends
  • Member-only winemaker tour with barrel tastings, in the vineyards. Great retention tool – with higher price point
  • Virtual tastings for club members to give them the first priority / first access
  • Social media for retention/engagement – Facebook Live – give them a view of the vineyards/experience of winery
  • Club benefits are what attracts and keeps our members, so if comp tastings and events are the only benefits, we may not be inclusive enough for those not local or not comfortable visiting right now. Consider benefits which don’t involve being on the property that would attract your guests to the club that is a good brand fit.
  • Create club-only wine/s if you don’t have them already
  • Consider virtual tastings with club members as a perk of membership and have the winemaker or staff superstar walk through the club wines with members, virtually. If small sample bottles aren’t an option, try a Coravin – either as part of a package or for sale with the virtual tasting.

C. Be flexible and offer options.

  • The best thing to do is to be empathetic and have service heart – people will remember that. Have a rhythm of reaching out to on-hold members, be proactive and check in to see how they are doing, not trying to sell.
  • Consider a subscription model instead of or in addition to a traditional club model.

2. Recruit ‘em. Beyond the tasting room there are many ways to increase wine club sign ups.

A. Leverage Your Current Members. Let your raving fans do the work for you and share the love. Find ways to reward those who share the love and get even more love…and sales.

  • Host a “bring a friend” virtual tasting
  • Encourage members to share your newsletter.
  • Ask your members for recruitment ideas.
  • Create perks for club members who recruit new members
  • Create a promotional video with happy (real) club members
  • Encourage members to share on social media
  • Gift your membership perk to someone – club members can ‘gift’ the comp tasting to a friend/family member if they are not able/willing to come and taste wines.
  • Do you have a referral program in place?

B. Leverage Your Alumni. Don’t treat your former members like an ‘ex’ but rather like alumni.

  • Reach out to former members to find out why they aren’t a member any more and see if you can make adjustments to get them back
  • Send a win-back email to lapsed members and remind them of all the great benefits they are missing (and that you have added)
  • Consider giving a window of opportunity to mailing-list (non-club) and/or former members for a chance to try a few of the wine-club-only wines

C. Use Technology

  • Experiment with Facebook or Google ads
  • Create a LinkedIn profile for your organization
  • Create retargeting ads
  • Make signing up an easy and smooth process

D. More Recruiting Ideas

  • Winery swap – with a complimentary winery – benefits for a month for each winery’s club members.
  • Give the gift of club members (Gifted Club Memberships) – as a gift club members or others can give to family/friends; can also be as part of a corporate gifting/virtual tasting program offer
  • Virtual tastings – ensure you are planting sales seeds in your virtual tastings for reasons non-club tasters should sign up for your club

E. Onsite/Tasting Room Ideas

  • Leverage wine-club only wines to get club signups – a benefit that can be delivered
  • Menus have ‘member-only’ wines clearly listed as a subtle benefit to joining a club or a members-only menu and a public menu
  • Move to comp tastings with club sign up, instead of with a purchase (to focus on building the club)
  • Only allow current club members to taste and purchase new releases
  • Make it obvious, everywhere, why being a club member has its perks

3. Wow ‘em. What benefits and engagement strategies do we need to consider to take the club to the next level of greatness?

A. Club Structure & Benefits

  • Membership tiers
  • Review benefits and resources for your club members
  • Create a referral reward system
  • Reward loyalty/ Celebrate tenure
  • Remove barriers to benefits
  • Extended / additional times for members to taste (wine club ‘happy hours’ – either on premise or virtual)
  • Value adds – include food / pairings / recipes / etc.
  • Monthly drawing for new club members for a personal tasting with a winery owner or family member either in person or virtual
  • Didn’t win the drawing? Buy this package and we’ll set you up with a family member to do a private tasting for them

B. Outreach and Engagement

  • If you aren’t already, send each new member a snail mail ‘Welcome’ package with all their benefits to remind them what they signed up for.
  • Personalize everything – as much as possible, as often as possible
  • Make technology your friend
  • Thank members regularly
  • Proactively reach out to check delivery address prior to upcoming shipment or send out notes to members, thanking them for their support, from the team
  • WISE Note: During this season of C19 we have a good reason to reach out and build even closer relationship with our club members. How are they doing? What can we do to help support them (i.e., virtual tastings, local deliveries, hold if needed, etc.)? People remember how they are treated, especially during challenging times.
  • Do more Virtual with club members; weekly happy hours, one-on-one tastings
  • Utilize your brand differentiator to compel members to attend a regularly scheduled virtual tasting. Make it genuine, have some ‘rituals’ like ending with ‘what’s for dinner?’ 10 minutes with winemaker; etc.
  • Virtual tastings are here to stay. How you deliver in the virtual space will depend on your brand personality, the makeup of your club/contact list, and your available internal resources. Be strategic – what is the purpose you are trying to achieve (retention, brand awareness, sales, etc.) and ensure your virtual tastings are meeting those goals.

Find ‘em; keep ‘em; make them advocates. How is your club attrition? What’s working for you?