Wine Club Innovation Blockbuster

As consumers, our media consumption habits have evolved dramatically over the years. Some of us remember when we used to have to get up as kids and walk across the room to change the TV channel! That primitive exercise was soon made redundant when someone on the block got the first VCR – WITH A REMOTE CONTROL, and we began trading tapes back and forth. Friday nights then transformed into trips to Blockbuster, where we’d pick out the latest releases. This evolved into getting DVDs in the mail, and today, we can stream whatever content we want, whenever we want it. This evolution reflects our growing desire for convenience, customization, and immediate access. However, while our media consumption has drastically evolved, wine clubs have largely stayed the same as they were 20, 30, or even 40 years ago.

Traditionally, wine clubs offer a predetermined number of wines a few times a year, along with complimentary tastings at the winery. This model has served us well, catering to a generation of wine enthusiasts who appreciate the structure and predictability. But, let’s face it: we’re now selling these clubs to our parents, who might still have a VCR and are grumbling about Netflix stopping DVD deliveries. To keep pace with the times, we must evolve our wine clubs to align with contemporary consumer preferences. The answer lies in innovation tailored to our individual brands, embracing subscription models, new benefits tailored to member needs, and user choice/customization, all of which allow members to get what they want, when they want. Let’s explore how we can modernize our wine clubs in a way that parallels the evolution of media consumption.

### Embrace Subscription Models

Just as streaming services have shifted from physical media to on-demand content, wine clubs can benefit from adopting flexible subscription models. Traditional wine clubs typically deliver a fixed selection of wines on a quarterly or monthly basis. Instead, consider offering tiered subscription options that allow members to choose the frequency and quantity of their shipments. This could include monthly, bi-monthly, or quarterly options, with the ability to pause or adjust their subscription as needed. By providing this flexibility, we can cater to varying consumption habits and budgets, much like how streaming services offer different plans to suit individual preferences. And, instead of a handful of large cash deposits when a wine club runs, consider the subscription model with higher daily cash flow. With today’s technology, a winery can predict revenue and depletions throughout the year instead of windfalls, which can help offset slower months. This could easily be a “Yes, And…” conversation to augment, instead of replace, traditional wine clubs.

###Tailored Benefits

One-size-fits-all benefits are a thing of the past. Consumers today expect perks that are personalized and relevant to their interests. We can thank Amazon – every single person’s homepage on Amazon is going to be different, personalized, and relevant to their interests. Now every industry and brand need to keep up. For wine clubs, this means going beyond the standard complimentary tastings and discounts. Consider that your benefits are likely very similar to most of the wineries in your region – what is a unique offer? Consider offering exclusive access to virtual wine tastings, behind-the-scenes winery tours, and member-only events that are relevant to different member types (local, out-of-state, etc.). Leverage technology to create personalized experiences, such as sending birthday or anniversary gifts, or providing tailored wine recommendations based on members’ past purchases and preferences. By offering benefits that resonate on a personal level, we can enhance member satisfaction and loyalty.

### User Choice and Customization

Streaming services have set a high bar for user choice and customization, allowing viewers to curate their own entertainment experience. Wine clubs can adopt a similar approach by offering members more control over their selections. Instead of sending a predetermined set of wines, allow members to choose from a curated list each shipment. Implementing an online portal where members can log in and select their wines, manage their subscriptions, and provide feedback can significantly enhance the user experience. This level of customization ensures that members receive wines they love, reducing the risk of burn out and attrition. Both Commerce7 and WineDirect have reported that wineries using their customized wine club modules actually have high club AOVs and member tenure. People are more likely to join a club they know they can make changes (not only good for attrition/retention but also for acquisition).

### Leverage Technology

The evolution of media consumption has been driven by technological advancements, and wine clubs can harness technology to enhance the member experience. Utilize data analytics to understand member preferences and tailor offerings accordingly. Implementing mobile friendly member portals can provide members with easy access to their accounts, upcoming shipments, and exclusive content. Consider a tutorial email explaining how easy it is to set up their club to meet their needs. Our technology partners have come a long way in providing us with these tools, yet we don’t often translate that well enough for our members.

While innovation is key, it’s essential to ensure that any changes align with the winery’s brand identity. Each winery has its unique story, values, and customer base, and these should be reflected in the wine club offerings. Whether it’s emphasizing sustainability, celebrating heritage, or highlighting innovation, the evolution of the wine club should reinforce the brand’s core message. This alignment ensures authenticity and strengthens the connection between the winery and its members.

As our media consumption habits have evolved, so too must our approach to wine clubs. By embracing subscription models, offering tailored benefits, providing user choice and customization, leveraging technology, and staying true to our brand identity, we can create wine clubs that meet the needs and expectations of today’s consumers. Just as we’ve transitioned from walking across the room to change the channel to streaming content on-demand, our wine clubs can evolve to offer a modern, personalized, and convenient experience that honors the tradition of winemaking while embracing the future.