Wine clubs were born in the 1970s during a turning point in modern culture. 62 million people had TVs in their household, big name retail store brands were finding their way outside of cities, and magazine subscriptions were circulating at huge levels. It was a time when more people could share in the same cultural moments, no matter what part of the country they lived in.
That’s what made the first wine club, started by Paul Kalemkiarian, Sr. in 1972 , so important. His idea was to have everyone on his mail order list try the same wines and have the same experience. Many of the wines were meant to introduce people to their new favorite vintage. Others were simply to have someone participate in an event, such as sipping on the first Beaujolais of the season.
But then, about the same time that magazine subscriptions started tanking, wine club membership slacked off. The older generations that filled their ranks stopped responding to mailer requests. Many may have thought that wine clubs were on the way out — much like telephone booths or travel agencies.
Yet, wine club membership is back and now stronger than ever. Newer adult generations and older ones alike have rekindled their interest in having select vintages shipped direct to their door. How did this happen? We could point to many reasons, but there’s one big one: social media.
Social Media Marketing as a Launching Pad for New Wine Clubs
Social media gave wine clubs the platform they had been sorely missing. While physical sales of newspapers and magazines dwindled, participation in social media swelled.
Now, 7 out of every 10 adults uses at least one social media site. The print ads for wine clubs that used to sell subscriptions have now gone digital, and they’re more effective at attracting members than ever.
Why? Here are 6 of the biggest reasons.
Viral Shares from Other Club Members
More so than ever before, the biggest source of new wine club subscribers are its old subscribers. People just can’t resist posting things they’ve just gotten on social media. Look up the words “haul” or “unboxing” on YouTube, and you’ll see millions of results. Each one is a testament to the excitement of receiving something at your doorstep you particularly enjoy.
For wine clubs, people discussing wines they’ve just gotten or announcing their arrival is enough to pique others’ interest in their friend group. They can also share promotions they’ve gotten, such as discounts or free shipping.
Posts like these count as strong recommendations, and they tempt those of us who prefer having an Amazon Prime shipment than going out and buying something ourselves. They go even further if the sharer earns a promotional rate or can get someone started in the wine club at a discount by sharing a particular post or hashtag.
Promotional Mentions of Exclusive Wines
FOMO (fear of missing out) is a powerful driver of consumer action in our online age. For wine clubs, retailers or wineries describing wines available only through a club membership stings us right where it hurts most. We don’t want to be left out, and we don’t want an opportunity to try something unique pass us by.
That’s why announcements from wine clubs regarding unique, exclusive or limited edition wines can quickly spur interest.
Targeted Advertising for Select Enthusiasts
Social media provides a trove of valuable user data that advertisers can use to pinpoint their impressions with laser-like precision. For instance, you can create a campaign that only shows up to people who are members of groups like “We Like Wine” or “Merlot Lovers.”
Targeting your ads reduces the chances that you’ll show them to people who generally prefer beer — or who don’t drink at all.
Targeted social media ad strategies can therefore become a powerful and cost-effective way to get the word out to your prospects most likely to start a membership.
Influencers as Trend-Setters
Never underestimate the power of influencers when it comes to encouraging action. In fact, at least one article largely. credits influencers for the resurgence of wine clubs among millennials . A 2013 documentary on sommeliers called “SOMM” went viral through social shares and encouraged a record number of people to pursue certification through the Court of Master Sommeliers.
One particular Master Sommelier, Brian McClintic, “Credits the social media platform created by the film for [his wine club] Viticole’s wide reach. Viticole’s first offering, in fact, was sold exclusively on Instagram.”
The authority and strong personality of individuals like McClintic inspires others to want to share his passion. “I curate the wine club extremely authentically, which is a nice way of saying selfishly,” he describes, “I choose what I want to drink, when I want to drink it, and then see who wants in.”
While this may seem counterintuitive to the original wine club’s idea of sharing universally lovable wines, it perfectly captures how social media and experience-focused marketing have a way of swaying young buyers to take action.
Promoting a wine club through social media marketing therefore becomes a game of finding the right people — both potential customers and influencers — to help you amplify your club’s visibility.