Sunday, June 12, 2022

Where Is the DTC business headed?


The answer to the blog title is the point of the Annual SVB Direct to Consumer Videocast, which is taking place this coming Wednesday, June 15th. 

You can sign up to receive the SVB DtC Report, receive a link to the live presentation, and a post-conference link to the videocast replay ----> [HERE.] 

The past two years have presented us with dislocation and change that needs unbundling. With an expert live panel (below) we will take 90 minutes to discuss the current state of the Direct to Consumer Wine Business, and offer our views on what's coming next:  

  • Internet sales from wineries grew by 500% when the Nation locked down in 2020. Internet sales are holding steady since the reopening. That is a permanent consumer change. 
  • The change to by-appointment tastings for years was resisted by many in the wine community. There was always the fear that moving away from the walk-in model would reduce sales opportunities. But regional mandates required tasting room appointments through the restricted COVID business era and that by-appointment model has now proven out. The headline slide to me says that we’ll never revert to a pure walk-in model again.
  • Labor is a huge problem for everyone, but hospitality suffers more than most industries. What can be done to solve for higher salaries and reduced staff? What is that doing to consumer experiences?
  • Technology is rapidly making its way deeper into this still-cottage and slow-to-evolve industry. Club memberships before COVID were exclusively gained from tasting room interactions. Yet today, as you can see in the nearby slide, an average of 17% of new memberships are now being attracted using digital means - away from the tasting room. Larger wineries are doing the best job so what can be learned from the approach of larger wineries?

  • Average tasting room purchases have yet to return to pre-COVID measures but total DTC sales are now exceeding 2019 results.
  • Net growth rates in clubs averaged an impressive 44% in 2021, but that was offset by attrition of almost 20%. What practices can we employ to reduce attrition and reduce acquisition costs?
  • With all the hype around virtual tastings in 2020, it’s been interesting to watch the rush to the exits on that approach in 2022. Reopening the tasting rooms and drawing increased customer interaction there means there should be a move away from digital tastings, but have we gone too far in abandoning a new and successful channel?
This videocast will be the first live studio broadcast since January 17th, 2020, and I have to say, I'm really looking forward to returning to that in-person live format. 

Joining me are: 

Jessah Diaz, Marketing Manager, National Brands & DTC, Rutherford Wine Company

Jessah is the Marketing Manager of National Brands and DTC at Rutherford Wine Company where she's responsible for developing marketing assets and campaigns for the retail market, as well as digital assets and programming for eCommerce and DTC. Her prior experience at Pernod Ricard USA, and in wholesale distribution at Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits, informs her work today and provided an early start with a diverse portfolio of brands in both a DTC capacity, as well as in retail markets. Prior to working in the wine and spirits industry, she worked in the competitive and fast-paced world of sports sales, marketing, and events for the Madison Square Garden Company. Jessah is a WSET Level II graduate with Distinction, and she is currently studying for the WSET Level III.

Paul Mabray, CEO, Pix 

Paul Mabray has been a powerful change agent in the wine industry for over twenty years. He has been at the forefront of all major digital trends for the wine industry, working with and when they entered the wine-digital space. He founded two companies that significantly changed the digital US wine landscape, first by introducing winery e-commerce with Inertia Beverage Group which transformed into pioneering winery e-commerce, and then again by introducing social media and social customer relationship management with Paul now leads the world’s first wine discovery platform, Pix ( With one of the largest online wine selections in the world, Pix helps consumers discover and efficiently purchase the wines they are searching for.

Leah McNally, Senior ECommerce Manager, Ste. Michelle Wine Estates

As a sixteen-year veteran of winery DTC sales, Leah today manages the DTC eCommerce and email marketing for Ste. Michelle Wine Estates brands in Washington, Oregon, and California. She earned an MBA in Wine Business from Sonoma State University in 2011. In 2015 Leah received a Ste. Michelle Wine Estates Cheers Award in the Energizing Customers category for her contribution to outstanding results in the DTC channel. Leah enjoys serving as a mentor for women in business, especially in the creative and handmade categories, and as a small business owner selling online, at local shows, and as the host of Vintagelandia Market in Napa.

Gather your teams in a conference room around laptops, and share the presentation together. Let this event encourage a real-time discussion with your direct-to-consumer staff.

Please promote the videocast on your social media channels.

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