Mastering Wine Club Retention: Strategies for Sustainable Growth

Unlock the secrets to boosting wine club revenue and fortifying customer loyalty in this session on Wine Club Retention Strategy. Gain invaluable insights from industry leaders who have mastered the art of member engagement, growing club revenue, and ensuring your wine club thrives even in challenging times.

Reality Check:

Traffic is down according to Community Benchmark and they also show that Member Acquisition rates have dropped significantly during the same time frame of 2019 to 2023.

What happens when the guests are in the tasting room? Again, we turn to Community Benchmarks for the aggregate data, which tells us WHAT is happening compared to our neighbors and historically. Through the WISE Mystery Shopping Program, we can see WHY the business results are what they are. Mystery Shopping covers at least 80 data points, with an opened ended text box behind the binary score for each data point. The program is 15 years old with more than 6,000 shops, giving ample historical data. WISE shoppers evaluate everything, from general cleanliness, ease of making reservations, and quality of print collateral, to professional selling skills like brand storytelling and qualifying the guest. Each WISE shopper is a current professional in the wine industry or has been thoroughly trained by WISE in best practices and standards.

This is aligned with WISE Mystery Shopping results, which show that the rate of our shoppers being verbally invited to join the wine club have dropped, from 2019 average 48% of the time, to just 36% of the time over the same five-year period. So, fewer members coming to the tasting room and are being asked to join less frequently, which results in lower acquisition. This is a perfect storm of exactly what we don’t want – fewer guests coming in, and even fewer of them being asked to join the club than five years ago.

Conversion to Club Tactics:
  1. Are we paying our Tasting Room Associates Enough? People are motivated by money and doing a good job. Let’s reward for the behavior our business needs.
    Best practice is to take the annual commitment spend of a club member and pay our team 10% of that. For example, if a new club member commits to a club that will cost them $2,000 for a year membership, we should be paying our team $200 for that club… after all, that club member is going to generate a lot more beyond the club commitment in one year (multiply your average retention rate by this one year commitment) as well as all the added purchases a typical club member buys within the year. (Puts the tip motivation into perspective.)
  2. SPIFFs, ICP, and Measuring What Matters. People will respect what we inspect… and what we reward. Are we sharing the leaderboard of who on the team is nailing the WISE Triple Score – asking for the sale, effectively presenting the wine club, and capturing contact data? What ways can we incentivize the team to do the Triple Score? SPIFF (Sales Performance Incentive Fund) and gamifying – rewarding with pizza, wine, experiences or other things beyond monetary rewards. Incentive Compensation Programs (ICP) to align company goals with the teama’
  3. Programs. Alumni (aka those club members who are not members currently) programs to get rejoins. Club shares with other wineries to attract birds-of-a-feather club joiners. Benefit shares – allow club members to let friends/family use benefits that they can’t use (extra complimentary tastings, member savings, etc.) Rewards programs for club members who recommend a new club member (and they join for the membership commitment).
  4. Training & Monitoring. Train the team to drop hints about the club 4 times during their time with guests so that by the end of the experience guests are curious to learn more. Monitor conversion rates of each employee and work with individuals as needed. Use WISE Mystery Shopping (or other companies) to monitor how the team is doing over time.
  5. Digital Opportunities. Can a person add the club to their cart on your online store? Is your club information online clear and accessible for new members to join? What opportunities can we utilize to draw interest on social platforms for club members?
Retention Tactics:
  1. Wine Club Benefits. We have an opportunity to make sure our club has different and unique benefits than our neighbors’ club, after all, if they drop one of their six wine clubs, let’s make sure they don’t drop ours. What benefits will keep members coming back for more? Do we have benefits that fit our local members as well as those who can’t come visit every week/month? What experiences are we offering to club members that make it special to them (others can’t access or have to pay for) or encourage them to return multiple times?
  2. Loyalty & Retention Programs. Collecting loyalty points isn’t anything new to our consumers. Does our current POS system allow for this for easier tracking? Other retention tactics like annual surveys to see what club members appreciate/want more of versus where there are areas to improve, customization options, technology for tracking retention / monitoring at-risk club members, etc.
  3. Outreach. There are many reasons to reach out to our club members and the by-product of this is retention, when members feel like you truly care about them. Declined credit cards, pre-ship club reminders, re-order / follow up to shipment, special offers and events, etc. – calling or at a minimum emailing or texting our members to remind them we appreciate their business.


Need help? Want to brainstorm together? Let us know how we can help!