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.
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.
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