Winery Upgrades Database to Cultivate Direct Sales

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St. Supery Vineyards & Winery expects to gain a better view of its customers through a new database marketing system and increase the amount of wine it sells direct.


St. Supery, Rutherford, CA, is the eighth-largest landholder in the Napa Valley. It sells 125,000 cases of wines yearly, 90 percent of which goes to distributors in the United States. Consumers buy 7 percent, and the rest is sold to international distributors.


One of St. Supery's goals is to raise the percentage of wine sold to consumers "so we can control our brand messaging better by communicating directly to consumers versus through distributors, and also because the margin's better when we sell direct," said Lesley Russell, director of consumer marketing for St. Supery.


St. Supery sells direct through its site or when consumers visit the winery's tasting room. It also has about 1,800 wine club members. But because of numerous state laws restricting direct shipment of wine, the winery can ship wine directly to consumers in only 19 states.


To maximize direct sales, the winery decided last year it needed a new customer marketing database that would let it enhance and personalize consumer interaction.


"We had two major databases that were not communicating with each other," Russell said, "so we didn't have a full picture of who are customers actually were."


For example, St. Supery has a 50,000-count mailing list in FileMaker Pro that it has had since the winery opened in 1989. This database contained data gathered through educational wine programs, the winery's Web site, on- and off-site tastings and events, and the wine clubs. Customers in this database get a quarterly newsletter by mail or e-mail.


The company also has an industry-specific, point-of-sale system that collects names and addresses of people who buy wine in the tasting room to be shipped. This database has the names and addresses of 2,000 people.


Because the databases were not integrated, "I wouldn't know which customers bought Cabernet and also which ones were interested in wine clubs, for example," Russell said. "If I knew this, I could perhaps target these customers for our top-end wine club that primarily sells Cabernets."


St. Supery first went to Goodman Marketing Partners Inc., a direct marketing agency selected to improve DM capabilities, which conducted a rigorous vendor selection process in February. In April, St. Supery picked Quaero SpringBoard, the outsourcing division of Quaero, Charlotte, NC, a marketing services provider.


"Based on a weighty review of over 15 potential partners, Quaero outperformed its competitors throughout the proposal process," said Carolyn Goodman, managing partner of Goodman Marketing Partners. "St. Supery chose Quaero SpringBoard for its marketing database services, which provide easy access to a system without having to build extensive and costly solutions in-house."


The system was implemented by July. Data are uploaded monthly from St. Supery's transactional database and linked to the 50,000-count mailing list database, or new customers are entered into the transactional database. The system also lets St. Supery send e-mail blasts in a more automated fashion.


St. Supery plans to use the new database infrastructure to develop insights about its customers that will increase retention and improve lifetime value.


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