Between the Lines winery found themselves constantly competing for ‘regulars’ in the crowded Niagara wine market, and looked to Purpose/Built to help them foster a new culture of brand loyalty and become un-ignorable among first-time visitors.
Many Niagara wines are solely available at the winery retail outlets, as opposed to through the LCBO. And, when first-time customers arrive en masse, piling out of tour buses for a quick tour and tasting after several, similar stops it remains difficult to create a lasting impression, which is crucial to securing repeat business.
While the vintages produced by the wineries are of course unique, the on-site winery experience design can be similar—due in part to the need to accommodate frequent, large groups. For Between The Lines Winery to compete for foot traffic, and to keep its visitors loyal to their wines, they would have to offer something distinctive.
The winery is located on the Four Mile Creek Road strip in Niagara-on-the-Lake – one of the busiest touring destinations in the region – in a big red barn surrounded by new production and event facilities, as well as rows and rows of vines. Unlike their large competitors, they do not offer tastings in an authentic Austrian castle or an ultra luxe modern facility. The winery is very much an open-door craft production and retail facility, and the people who work there are friendly, knowledgeable, and, well…cool.
For years, the owners had avoided offering a wine club. In part because wine clubs are common, and in part because they liked having their customers visit the winery. They had never explored the concept as a means to stay connected with once-in-a-lifetime visitors and enthusiasts. Now, with customers constantly asking to join their club, and the winery production increasing to match the demand, they gave in, but with a single requirement: their wine club would not be stuffy or overly exclusive and would offer real value to their loyal customer group.
Like we said, the winery is located in a big red barn. The barn’s loft is off-limits to guests and is a kind of club house office where the staff and management meet. After many meetings there ourselves, it wasn’t a tough conclusion to suggest that we name the wine club in its honour.
Working to develop a clear sense of the unique cultural character of the winery, we designed a logo for The Loft that featured an illustrated pictogram of a barn owl.
In a retail space dominated by endless images of grapes, vines, wine glasses and other oenophilic trappings, it was critical to the positioning of this new wine club that the value beyond the regular home delivery of their wines was clear. In developing the structure and levels of the wine club, we spent less time on inclusions and more time on content, serving online guests considering joining The Loft with a strong sense of the winery’s humility and sense of humour to drive cultural loyalty as much as sales.
The wine club structure started with a free level, The Loyalist, designed to encourage younger wine lovers to engage with the winery brand and stay on top of events, new products, and winery news. Subsequent levels were designed to match members’ wine drinking habits, and, unlike most wineries, allows members to choose the wines in their order, with the inclusion of limited edition vintages, signed bottles, pairing recipes, and merchandise.
Members of The Loft have early bird registration access to winery events, and receive custom winery merchandise including a line of t-shirts.
After the barn owl design, the Lemberglar t-shirt is probably the most popular. The Lemberger wine produced by the winery is the only vintage of its kind in the region, and typically sells out in advance of its launch.
The actual barn loft has been taken over by shipping supplies to fill the many wine club orders, driving staff meetings to other corners of the busy winery property. Interestingly, many of the new wine club members have never even been to the winery, having joined through a referral or recommendation.
We’d like to take credit for the escalation in virtual sales, but the truth is that we just helped give the people what they wanted, and they were all over it.