An excellent case study from the Direct-to-Consumer Wine Conference

The Sovos/Ship Compliant conference took place this summer in Napa Valley with some notable differences. The first was its focus on diversity and the second was its hardcore millennial marketing vision.

The statistical focus of the conference was, as usual, on increasing direct-to-consumer selling [DTC] wine sales over the past year during the pandemic. According to Ship Compliant, which provides wineries with shipping and distribution compliance and management, the value of DTC shipments increased 8% from a year ago.

Other salient findings include that the past year marked a year of recovery and normalcy for the wine industry, in a year that has been anything but. An unprecedented 11.8% increase in the average price per bottle on 8.5 million cases shipped from US wineries was recorded last year. Small wineries did better than big ones for once and Napa wineries rebounded while Oregon boomed. DTC winery shipments captured an impressive 12% of offsite domestic wine sales, an increase of more than 10% from the previous year.

A millennial perspective

Beyond the hard data, some of the rally’s most interesting presentations came from one of its youngest participants. The wine marketing case study presented by Ed Feuchuk, General Manager of the Napa Farm Collective Napa Valley, was eye-opening.

The Farm Collective represents Calistoga’s Tank Garage Winery, located in a renovated gas station. Feuchuk explained how he and his team created an endless stream of limited winery brands, all of which generated lines, excitement and sold out in no time.

Some of the wineries’ current brands include ‘Pray for Surf’, ‘California Gigolo’ and ‘Boys! Boys! Boys!” The names and labels are kind of a stream of consciousness and meant to be. constantly attracting attention by launching limited editions of cult brands.

As a result, he reports that the average time to sell online for these unique 72-case lots is 49 minutes. These limited-edition wines, which he called drops, are the third most valuable perk for winery members and customer-generated social media content increases by 50-200% during these special drops. How’s that for free advertising?

The concept behind the wines

The wines, he notes, are promoted with a short video and narration. Limited batches create FOMO (fear of running out), as he noted “customers like to flex with their peers to acquire a rare wine.”

Long queues usually form during a new drop, he notes, and the experience of customers queuing while waiting creates a unique shared experience. It also keeps the Garage Tank Winery packed on weekends.

Wines should be compelling and original, he adds, like Pizzaboy wine. It was created to associate itself with its namesake and features a charming, retro 1950s couple cradling a slice of pizza.

The winery also goes out of its way to provide club members flexibility with wine preferences and vacation bookings. They offer customers Amazon Prime-like subscriptions, and Feuchuk notes that custom builds have an average value that’s 32% higher than a suggested build.

Maybe some established wineries should take a note or two from the book on how young disruptors are really promoting wine. These bottles may be a long way from the sneakers, but they also fly away quickly.

About Stephen Arrington

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