Wine Marketing: Direct to Consumer Challenges and Opportunities


The acronym “DTC” aka direct to consumer is one of the most important concepts the wine industry as a whole must leverage in order to survive and thrive during our challenging economic times. Direct to consumer sales provide opportunities for  higher profit margins, increased special event sales, and to sell the ever vitally important wine club memberships. Yet with all that is riding on DTC, the awareness of the power of social media marketing as a sales channel remains under appreciated and under utilized.

Case in point, the “Direct to Consumer: 2009 Tasting Room Report.” Most interesting in this report are the hurdles or “barriers to maximizing DTC potential for all wineries. The reported challenges as well as  the opportunities to overcome the challenges may surprise you.

Common Barriers to Maximizing DTC Potential

  1. Compliance and Shipping: (39 percent) believe issues of compliance and shipping “still outweigh all other barriers
  2. Lack of Resources: (17 percent)  people, time and money
  3. Effective Technology and Systems: (13 percent)
  4. Acquiring Customers: (13 percent) aka lead generation
  5. Marketing Tools: (13 percent) believe a lack of DTC marketing tools like customer relationship marketing (CRM) and Web analytics

Opportunities to Maximizing DTC Potential

  1. Tasting Room Software: according to the report there are many online systems available to greatly reduce the challenges of shipping and compliance
  2. Lack of Resources: the three resources in question are people, time, and money. The answers should include social media marketing training to help key employees. The other solution is to hire a social media marketing agency to perform monthly marketing maintence and run your marketing program
  3. Effective Technology and Systems: nothing was specified. The obvious technologies that could improve DTC sales would be a blog and a social media marketing plan-strategy to engage with consumers on Facebook, and Twitter. Placing laptops in the tasting room so consumers can directly fan your Facebook winery page or follow your Twitter account(s) creates a bridge from real world to online world.
  4. “Acquiring Customers”: this challenge (lead generation) could be addressed with a DTC Twitter strategy in concert with a Facebook company page for customer relationship management
  5. Marketing Tools: CRM would be the role of a strategically implemented Facebook company page that engaged consumers and created “Call to Action” messaging.  Web analytic measurement tools could be implemented to measure each message delivered in specific channels including the blogosphere, Facebook, and Twitter for the messages relevance or effectiveness

3 thoughts on “Wine Marketing: Direct to Consumer Challenges and Opportunities

  1. M.E.,

    We would agree that social networks, especially Facebook and Twitter, can be leveraged for DTC. Social networks can also be measured and analyzed in order to continually tweak messaging efforts. The key is to put in place a plan-strategy with scheduling. The majority of disconnect begins when brands and companies forge ahead, without a plan, thinking social media marketing will run without supervision or effort.

  2. Hi Dean, I found your numbers to be surprising. Especially considering that there are so many great [technical] ideas one can do to create incentives for having customers leaving their email address behind at the Wine Tasting room. We have just developed an application for iPads that are basically interactive menus that allows the guests to rate the wines they’re tasting and send an email to themselves with the ratings they created while at the winery. This incentifies the guests to leave their email behind, while the winery gets to keep the email of the person doing the tasting. I’d definitely consider that to be ‘technology’, and I am a firm believer in that it’ll create the foundation for a long-lasting relationship for those 90% not willing to commit to a wine club membership.

    I would love your input on our application BTW, and I’d even more love if you’d write a blog about it, hopefully helping us promote it to wineries in the US. Here’s some information about it;

    If you wish to contact me Dean, my email is

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