For quite a while I have been eager to start a wine club for our wine properties in Franschhoek. In the process we have looked at other wine clubs, we have researched the various offerings, had plenty of brain storming sessions and we have got specialists on board to introduce us to the possibilities of technology.
To put together a package that we thought would be worthwhile to our loyal customers was not that difficult – we had a few good suggestions on the table allowing future club members’ access to wines and experiences not otherwise available.
So, why have we not yet launched a wine club?
When we had an offer on the table and were quite sure about the practicalities of implementation, we took a step back and suddenly we were not sure about people’s commitment to the principle of a wine club. Yes, it has been done very successfully, but is it still the order of the day? How much involvement can we expect from wine club members? Can it be that the principle is dated? And if not, how can we run a club that is not just like any other wine club? How can we make members feel special while keeping it worthwhile for us? Sure, we had a lot of suggestions, but when drilling down to the practicalities, we often wondered whether all our efforts would actually do more to make our customers feel special than what a visit to the estate does? Would all the extra effort and investment actually be worth our while?
Many of my questions were addressed in the latest blog by SVB on Wine, The most important factor in wine club.
The first thing this blog does is trying to measure the delight of customers. Calling it marginal utility, the idea is to determine how much pleasure the customer derives from goods or a service. Perhaps you are delighted with your first wine delivery and a lovely card on your birthday, but are you as excited about the next delivery and the one thereafter? Does the birthday card become boring?
What I get from this is that the offering of your wine club should stay fresh. To make it last and keep customers and members loyal, your wine club should be tailored to their specific requirements or preferences. Although it might not be that easy to implement, there has to be a personal touch. If for instance, we know that a specific member enjoys fishing in summer, perhaps his summer shipment should have wines that go well with seafood, perhaps include a few recipes – that kind of thing. A unique, versatile and personal offering combined with choice and exceptional service, might keep members excited about being members of your club. While this sounds like a PR’s dream, it can turn into a nightmare for the CFO – will making our members feel special make us money? How much will your wine have to cost to allow for the manpower and effort going into having loyal wine club members? And while they might feel pampered, very high prices might also cause members to opt out.
All in all, members should feel that they get value for their money – whether the value is in the exceptional service, personal touch or the price of the wine. What people regard as value does of course also differ from one person to the next. I think it is wise to take your time before launching your own wine club. Find out who your target market is and what they value, and then you can tailor your offering.
Many wine clubs succeed and we do not want to reinvent the wheel. SVB on Wine shares some interesting ideas on how to not only keep your members but also how to keep them buying. One of which is to be careful of signing up members with a discount offer. It might attract the wrong profile of person to begin with and can easily result in a once-off sale. I am in total agreement – that second sale is the most important.
At the risk of over-thinking, perhaps we still need some more time to fine tune the exact concept of our wine club.