Beverage “clubs” are nothing new—just ask anyone who’s signed up to receive quarterly cases from their favorite winery. But small, local shops may need a different approach from the expensive, one-size-fits-all traditional models.
Today’s beverage brands are developing programs to meet people where they are, creating ongoing relationships with customers by bringing them back into the store for new tastes and experiences. Below, we’ve rounded up examples for inspiration.
Growler fills, from brews to ‘booch
For some customers, a growler can be a gateway to a tap habit. They’re most familiar for serving beer—the Los Angeles craft brewery Angel City offers growler fills in different sizes, for example, as does the Orlando-based Dead Lizard Brewing. Other businesses, such as Bozeman, Montana’s Mavens Market, sell private-label wine on tap.
Taps aren’t just for booze, either. Craft kombucha brewers, including Harvest Roots in Birmingham, Alabama, offer growlers of seasonal and evergreen flavors to go.
To make a growler program work, consider charging customers a small deposit on the container itself and refilling them at a discounted volume rate. (Bonus: it’s a lot more sustainable than single-use bottles). New flavors and brews on tap will keep them coming back for more.
There’s a reason coffee shops still stand by the “buy 10, get the 11th drink free” punch card system: it works. According to one Hubspot survey, more than half of respondents said that having a loyalty punch card drove them to make another purchase from a company.
Still, with punch cards being ubiquitous among sandwich and coffee shops, some brands have sought out more creative rewards than a free house drip. Take Boba Guys, a boba tea company that started in San Francisco and now has locations in Los Angeles and New York. The Boba Guys passport allows customers to collect stamps when they buy drinks in different store locations and earn branded prizes along the way—think “Airplane Mode” tumbler cup, “Boba Bae” shoe charm, and a crossbody bag made to resemble a boba ball. It’s a smart way to bring people into stores when they’re at home or traveling (and to make them into brand ambassadors).
Clubs with customization
As for wine, clubs are still as relevant as ever, but more retail shops are adding features for more flexibility and personalization. At Down the Rabbit Hole, a Long Island business specializing in natural, organic, and obscure bottles, prospective members can choose from three tiers at three different price points. In addition to regular wine pickups, club members enjoy discounts on in-store and case purchases, access to special member-only bottles, and first dibs on signups for wine seminars.
At Barrel Thief, in Richmond, Virginia, a team of sommeliers takes customization one step further, promising hand-selected cases based on members’ personal preferences. You pick your price tier, number of bottles, frequency, and favorite attributes, and they do the rest. Think of it as insider tips from the manager of your go-to store.
The best part? Great drinks keep on coming.