Wine Club Shrinking?

Spoiler Alert: You’re Not Alone

Across multiple data resources, we’re hearing and seeing that with traffic down, so are club conversions. If attrition is also up, our clubs are shrinking! What can we do to increase conversion to club when guests come in?



  1. Club Structure: Have you reviewed your structure and made sure it’s the best offering you have for your members? When is the last time you did a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, & Threats) analysis of your club? Are 3 shipments better than 4? Are 4 bottles better than 3? What is compelling to your guests that they would want to join based on structure?
  2. Benefits: Are the benefits compelling to guests? Who are your guests – local vs. out of the area, and do you have benefits that would appeal to both? Are your benefits different from any other wine club? Do you have something unique to offer?
  3. Collateral: What does your collateral look like? Is your club brochure set up to showcase the benefits of your club in a way that could also be used as a sales tool for the team? Best practice is to have collateral that spells out all the benefits so that the guest takes that portion and there is a tear-away portion with the shipping/billing information. What about your newsletters or other printed materials – do these entice guests to want to be a part of your wine club/brand?
  4. Surveys: Are you getting member feedback to see if there are areas of opportunity? Regularly seek feedback from current members to understand their preferences and continuously improve the club offerings. This can also help in addressing any issues or concerns promptly.
  5. Club Options: Are there tiered members available with varying benefits? How about personalization or customization? Research shows that having the options entice new members and managing it can be worth it.


  1. Mentioning the Club: Are they effectively selling the club? In other words, are they mentioning the club to every guest about 4 times over the course of the experience? (And not all the information in a dump at the end of the experience or not at all.)
  2. Connecting to the Club: Are they asking enough questions (not making assumptions) of their guests to understand which club would be the most beneficial to the guest? (And not which one they are most comfortable selling.) And are they making suggestions using specific benefits that would match the guests’ interests/needs?
  3. Understanding the Club: Is the club straightforward and understandable? If the team or guest don’t understand how it works, a confused mind says no.
  4. Team Perception: Does the team feel that the wine club is something special, or a benefit? Something they see of value? If they never would join a club, they will likely have a hard time selling their own wine club. Foster a sense of pride with the team and use exercises to help to get the team thinking beyond their own pocketbook and interests and to think how the club will enhance the guests’ experiences.
  5. Incentives & Recognition: People will respect what we inspect… and nothing seems to motivate people more than money. Consider if your incentives are ‘worth’ it – how much would you pay to convert into a new club member (what is that lifetime value of the club member worth)? Recognize and reward team members who excel in selling memberships. This can boost motivation and create a positive competitive spirit.

GROWING OUR CLUB: Keeping existing members and adding more members –

Keeping ‘Em:

  1. Loyalty Programs: There are four different types of loyalty programs:
    • Tenure Programs – which promotes and celebrates long-term memberships.
    • Lifetime Value Programs – which honor our most valuable customers – not matter how long they have been a member, or even if they are a member of not – with the respect and rewards they deserve.
    • On-going Programs – Like birthdays, anniversaries, referrals, top buyer
    • Pre-emptive Strike Programs – Designed by club based on the average timing for attrition. What can we do in advance before the most likely period when we know they might quit?
  2. Strategic Outreach: If we have knowledge of the average tenure per club and reach out to members that are approaching this average tenure, we can remind them that their new benefits kick in (see example above) or we can send them a thank you for being a member – either a simple card, phone call, or a small gift (an inexpensive branded item like a sticker, magnet or others goes a long way).
  3.  Teamwork: Work with the team to incentivize staff to keep members such as commissions based on tasting room visits per member or sales outside club channel
  4. For more ideas, see this WISE Blog.

It’s a lot less expensive to keep the members we have, but we need to also continue to grow our clubs.

Add More Members:

  1. Lead with Benefits: Sell the benefits during tasting room visits and beyond. Does the team understand and connect the benefits of the club to the guests’ interests? Are we selling the key reasons why someone should join our club? AND, are we reminding them occasionally of all the great benefits they have? Often after a signup, many people do not remember all the benefits they have – let’s remind them of all the reasons why they should join and stay.
  2. Alumni: Outreach to people who have canceled in the past
    • Cancelled club members are not dead weight! They quit the club, not your brand. Treat them like alumni and not ‘exes’ – it’s a whole different connotation of an ex-lover versus someone who has graduated on. Treat them with respect as they leave, keep the conversation open and hopefully the relationship going.
    • Develop a communication strategy for your past wine club members. Send occasional email or direct mail offers that are exclusive to alumni. Incentivize with rejoin offers tailored to why they cancelled the club (reminder: this is why tracking cancelation reasons is so important).
    • When a club member cancels their membership make sure to reach out with a good-bye card confirming their cancellation, thanking them for being a member, confirming that they will continue receiving email, alumni offers and possibly offering them one last chance to enjoy their club discount.
  3. Events: What types of events can we offer to reward and entice new members? In-market events, invite friends and family of club members, pickup parties, by-invitation-only, etc.
  4. Referral programs: Let’s clone our best members!
    • This can be easy when we ask our club members to invite their friends to become part of their wine-loving family.
    • Create a program that can track and reward members who refer friends to join your club. Make sure that you are timely when sending thank-you and gifts.
    • Don’t forget that this is very easy to do at wine club events. If a member gets a friend to join at an event, have a gift to give them as they leave the event.
  5. For more ideas, see this WISE Blog.