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When wine clubs work well: the importance of being proactive in the direct-to-consumer space

By Thursday 1 August 2019No Comments

In the lead-up to the Wine Industry Impact Conference in Orange, Traci Ayris underlines the importance of being proactive when it comes to direct-to-consumer sales.

“If you don’t want to grow DTC then be prepared to work much, much harder for a lot less money.” – Lesley Berglund

DTC marketing is a fluid environment. As consumer behaviour and buying trends continue to evolve, smart wineries are thinking on their feet and adapting to those changes. DTC is not a set-and-forget process.

Navigating though the e-commerce, data collection, analysis and future strategy minefield is a daunting prospect for most SME’s, yet wineries have much to gain by gathering and crunching the right numbers.

The 2019 Wine Industry Impact Conference (WIIC) has a strong focus on Data in the DTC sector, with two internationally-recognised experts speaking to this topic in Orange this September.

Lesley Berglund wears many hats, among them the founder of WISE (Wine Industry Sales Education) academy and SOLVE (transaction management, financial strategy) in Napa Valley. Berglund thrives on changes in the wine industry and created the WISE Academy to “grow the next level of leadership in the wine industry”.

Berglund founded Ambrosia – a wine catalogue business in the early 90s, a time when DTC was rare in the industry. Her vision included educating winery owners about the supply chain from production to final mile delivery. Berglund further increased her knowledge of the DTC space when Ambrosia began working with wineries to launch wine clubs, a path which led to the development of more than 150 e-commerce sites.

In the USA, where the majority of wineries are focused on DTC, Berglund noticed that many winery owners, general managers or CEO’s had scant knowledge of how to effectively implement a DTC strategy and that there was a lack of DTC professionals at the higher levels. In Orange, Berglund will explain why everyone in the business, not just the sales and marketing team, needs to understand the importance of Data and DTC channels.

“I don’t see data collection as a system issue, it is a people issue,” she says. “It needs to start in Cellar Door.   Most wineries are notoriously bad at collecting contact data from customers and this means that the guest experience is simply transactional and often limited to the sales that occur on that first visit. Wineries with successful DTC programs understand the importance of making it easy for visitors to stay in touch.”

In these hyper-competitive times, can any wine business afford to ignore the potential benefits of identifying target markets by proactively collecting data from the outset? And is data an immediate panacea for flagging sales? According to Berglund, the answers are no, and no. She advocates that if you wait until your business really depends on it, it’s probably too late.

Berglund also has advice for wineries looking to upgrade or introduce a new system. “The most important thing is to first map out your internal company needs and external customer needs. If you don’t have that skillset internally, then get a consultant to help you. Too many wineries skip this extremely vital step.”

Drawing from her extensive client base, conference delegates will discover valuable tips on using key metrics to help identify focus areas. Berglund will also present fascinating case studies, such as how one US Winery grew its DTC sales from US$19 million to US$33 million in less than three years.

“My aim is to give Australian winery businesses an understanding of how to measure what really matters for DTC success and how to grow a wine club that is right for their brand,” Berglund says.

Day 1 of the Impact Conference will see Berglund joining Andrew Kamphuis (Commerce7) for a presentation on how to use data to drive business decisions and increase sales. In a breakout session on Day 2, she will take delegates through a hands-on wine club strategy session. Key takeaways from this worshop include identifying and understanding best practice wine club management, how to use key metrics, tips to extend member retention and how to design team incentives that reward success. Berglund intends to return to the US with a host of brand new insights from the conference, saying, “I’m really looking forward to visiting Orange for the first time, meeting my wine industry colleagues in Australia and seeing how much we can learn from each other.”

Thanks to the support of strategic partner Destination NSW, WIIC19 delegates will have access to a stellar array of national and international speakers, hands-on workshop sessions, networking events and regional road trips showcasing the exciting wine region of Orange.

Visit  to view the full program. Register online before 16 August to take advantage of Earlybird ticket pricing.

Photo: Orange Region Vignerons Association.


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