Wine is a universe of engagement for media companies

By Jodie Hopperton


Los Angeles, California, United States


Hi there. This is the second part of a series looking at wine as a product. It shows that there are a multitude of ways to tackle a single issue from a product perspective. If you missed the first of these newsletters, you can catch up on the two case studies here

I’m focusing on audio and approaching Gen Z over the coming months, so if you have any insights to share with me, I’d welcome them via e-mail or in conversation. Reach out to me at

Thanks, Jodie

Beyond the club: when wine is a universe of engagement 

Norway is fairly particular when it comes to wine. There are very strict laws and alcohol is only sold through the state. That’s why Dagens Næringsliv (The Norwegian Business Daily) has taken an approach not related to commerce: creating engagement for their users. 

Julie Lungren, chief product and strategy officer, spent time taking me through their journey.

Dagens Næringsliv's wine app offers a wine search function.
Dagens Næringsliv's wine app offers a wine search function.

Wine reviews have been part of the offering to DN’s readers for a long time. Years ago they tried out a wine club for a period, but it mostly consisted of books about wine that came as an addition to the newspaper subscription. They also have a history of events and tastings related to wine. The key to much of their world of wine has been having a very well-known wine expert as the author of the reviews.

A few years ago, they looked at how they may be able to change their wine reviews and physical events into a digital wine universe. They know wine is popular amongst its readers and saw an opportunity to bring them in deeper, encouraging higher level subscriptions. 

The team looked at how they could maximise the respect of the wine expert and the depth of review content and data already in place. 

Their solution brings their product outside of the usual realms of “news” and opens up an opportunity to interact with their consumers in a different part of their day-to-day routine. They developed a wine search service with advanced filters and even a barcode scanner, which can be used in store to bring up the wine analysts views, including a score out of 100, at the point they are selecting the wines. 

The app includes about 60,000 wine in its database.
The app includes about 60,000 wine in its database.

Julie explained: “The state (monopoly) has several releases of wine during the year. It’s beneficial for readers to keep their subscription because there will always be new content. We have around 60,000 wines in the database, and it’s growing every week. So every time they get new wines, our expert will taste them and score them. That’s why you need to have our product continuously.”

What are the results? An impressive 37% of subscribers use the wine universe. To put this in perspective, that’s an even higher engagement than newsletters. 

In addition to keeping people locked into a subscription by offering this consistent value, they have found a way to generate additional revenue. Although they may not sell wine like many other news titles do, nor are they allowed to have advertisements for alcohol, they are allowed to have sponsors and advertisements for certain related things. Events were already part of their product mix for the wine universe, some of which are highly exclusive, and they have been able to produce lots of wine Webinars for subscribers and generate sponsorship revenue associated with the content.  

This all sounds perfect, so I asked Julie about the product challenges associated with this. She told me it’s a perfect example of a scattered product. It works because it integrates with so many areas of the business. And it is a challenge because it integrates with so many parts of the business. 

There is an editor for the column, one person responsible for the Webinars, another commercial for sponsorships, product and tech for the wine search. It’s complex to manage the totality of the offering and secure resources to continuously improve the wine universe going forward. But DN’s readers love it, that’s for sure!

You can read more about the updated scanner and product here.

Date for the dairy: Product Webinar on March 29

Join us later this month to talk about how we manage the Product and Technology Partnership Effectively. In this INMA product Webinar, we’ll hear from Jason Jedlinski and Erik Bursch about the partnership they forged at Gannett. They led to better architecture, speed and quality — while satisfying stakeholders, improving employee engagement, and even reducing expenses.

Sign up here to join the discussion.

Wine as a product: 5 learnings

As I have been delving into the world of wine and how it relates to news, I want to share some of the key learnings in addition to the case studies from UK, Slovenia, and Norway. 

Wine is an interesting case study as it cuts across so many departments and can have multiple benefits: creates brand recognition outside of news, drives engagement, creates a different relationship with the consumer, and can have split revenue sources from advertising, sponsorship, commerce, events, and subscriptions.  

Dagens Næringsliv is one of many financial media titles creating a wine product.
Dagens Næringsliv is one of many financial media titles creating a wine product.

One thing to note is that from all the people I spoke to, there appears to be a strong link between financial titles and wine. This is likely because the audience of financial titles tends to be more affluent, where it seems there is more propensity for interest and spending on high-value products such as wine.

Learning No. 1: Capitalise on the content and the brand 

If you as a media brand have invested in high-end journalism around wine, looking beyond a regular column through a product lens on wine as a whole can be hugely beneficial.

There are a multitude of ways to capitalise on the brand through products and events, as well as solve user problems (perhaps “desires” is a better frame here!), getting readers engaged with your products at multiple levels. Dagens Næringsliv’s bar scanner is an incredible example of this.

Learning No. 2: Do the maths on wine sales and affiliate deals 

A wine “club” can be a straight offer selling wine to readers, likey with some information about each wine and how it pairs with food (at a minimum). 

This can be done in-house, which saves costs on outsourcing, but most media organisations are not set up to do fulfilment. If your country is not a wine producer, take note of import duties and logistics that may make it too expensive or too difficult. 

One way to get around this is to work with a partner that has already solved this for you. This is simplest, but as one expert pointed out margins on affiliate deals can be extremely slim at 2%-10%, so the opportunity cost on the effort and space may not pay off. 

Learning No. 3: Virtual and physical events drive revenue and engagement

During COVID, we saw that people could gather over Zoom for wine. Now that we’re back to normalcy, we’re seeing a move back to — and more of a thirst (pun intended) — for physical events. 

Whether it is for a tasting, a tour, or a dinner, it’s a subject that brings people together and screams physical experiences. There are a multitude of benefits if this is a route you are looking to go down: an intimate relationship with new and potential readers, a lucrative source of revenue (especially at the high end), and, of course, sponsorships.

Learning No. 4: Consider testing and expanding beyond wine

We’ve seen wine used as a test with the FT. This can be a low commitment test for a number of things: commerce, affiliate deals, events, sponsorships, etc. 

When you are planning anything, be sure to this about what you want to test, as it may help inform your next move too: food, places to eat and drink, city guides, hotels, etc.

Learning No. 5: Product needs to find common ground

This is a prime example of how product must work with and evaluate different areas of the business to find common threads. In larger companies, it may be that some departments aren’t aware of another’s work or ambitions. 

In an ideal environment, product can bring different departments together, focusing on user wants and ultimately prioritising and investing in areas to build stronger revenue and engagement as a whole.

Recommended reading

About this newsletter 

Today’s newsletter is written by Jodie Hopperton, based in Los Angeles and lead for the INMA Product Initiative. Jodie will share research, case studies, and thought leadership on the topic of global news media product.

This newsletter is a public face of the Product Initiative by INMA, outlined here. E-mail Jodie at with thoughts, suggestions, and questions. Sign up to our Slack channel.

About Jodie Hopperton

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