In the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, the term “stock up” was trending on Google. People everywhere were stocking up on everything including wine and alcohol. Alcohol sales increased 22% for the week ending March 28, while wine sales saw an uptick of 10% and spirits 9%, as consumers rushed to fill their fridges and bars. “It's like New Year's every day,” said Mark Schwartz, owner of Little Mo Wine and Spirits in New York City. Schwartz saw alcohol sales shoot up fourfold, entirely through delivery.
Ordering wine in increments of six or 12, through wine services and clubs, has been a popular choice for people self-isolating during coronavirus, with wine clubs seeing huge upticks in memberships. “Direct-to-consumer wine club Winc has seen an unprecedented 578% increase in new member sign-ups week over week,” noted an article in Forbes. Brian Smith, COO and co-founder of Winc, added “Work from home and social distancing are accelerating at-home consumption and the broader adoption of ecommerce in wine. Until now, the category [ecommerce wine] has typically lagged behind other consumer categories.”
Wine brands looking to retain customers who buy large wine orders need to offer quality selection, service and shipping. And each bulk wine brand must make it clear which niche wine shopping audience they’re seeking to attract, as the wine category has (and wine drinkers have) significant price, quality and taste ranges.
Wine Clubs Altering Selection, Shipping And Delivery Options
Shipping delays are adversely impacting a lot of wine delivery services and wine club deliveries, but many brands are adapting by amending their shipping costs or offering delivery options. Firstleaf, an algorithm-based wine subscription service that personalizes subscribers’ wine choices based on taste, geography and other factors ascertained during an initial quiz, amended their usual wine selection process because of COVID-19 causing supply issues. In order to continue sending wine in a timely manner, Firstleaf is offering new members six of Firstleaf’s favorite wines, which Firstleaf is able to guarantee will ship quickly. Members who still want curated wine selections will have to wait longer for deliveries. Although the favorites selection is not precisely what Firstleaf typically offers in terms of personalized service, the solution gives consumers a choice, and they aren’t left empty handed.
Showing there are many options to delivery issues, Gold Medal Wine Club is offering drive-thru pick up from their Santa Barbara warehouse -- with a 10% discount -- for the first time ever, and Martha Stewart Wine now has free shipping for orders of six bottles or more.
Wineries Offer Direct-To-Consumer Deals On Bulk Buys
Although it varies from state to state, many wineries will ship cases of wine directly to consumers. During the coronavirus pandemic, wineries are changing some of their typical policies in order to get wine to their customers as easily as possible.
According to Wine Enthusiast, “Hamel Family Wines in Sonoma is offering complimentary shipping and future complimentary tastings for anyone whose reservations have been canceled due to closures. And Lail Vineyards, a high-end producer of highly allocated wines, is making all of its wines available online instead of only during allocation periods, and including nationwide ground shipping on all orders of any quantity.” Typically, wineries offer discounts for orders over 12 bottles, including one cent shipping, 25% off or other incentives that make bulk ordering a good buy.
WSJwine Offers Spring Promotions And Leveled Club Memberships
For some brands, forging ahead with the promotions and brand character their customers are used to can be the best way forward. Although WSJwine is experiencing some delays with delivery, the brand continues to emphasize “stock-up” promotions of 12 bottles or more on their website, including deals for springy rosé wines and “buy 12 get three free” deals at discounted prices. WSJwine also maintains several levels of wine club, which offer different prices points and regions for oenophiles of every stripe. By continuing to provide the services their customers are accustomed to and promotions that may appeal to new wine buying audiences, WSJwine is encouraging both brand loyalty and new customer acquisition.
By being innovative with their offerings, promotions and delivery options, wine clubs and services that offer bulk wine ordering are able to keep wine aficionados happy. Being proactive and quickly pivoting when needed can offer benefits to brands now and when the world returns to normal.
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