Behind wine brand Kendall-Jackson’s growing direct-to-consumer strategy

Thirty-six-year-old family winery Kendall-Jackson has been selling select wines online at since 2004. But with new attribution tools available, it has only recently begun to see a return-on-investment from selling direct-to-consumer online.

Kendall-Jackson began using Facebook’s Pixel to retarget customers visiting its online wine selections six months ago. Since then, Facebook introduced new reporting tools around attribution modeling and store visits, allowing Kendall-Jackson to get a fuller view of the customer, and see that there is now an opportunity for a CPG wine brand to have a DTC business. As such, Kendall-Jackson is investing more in the tools they are using to pull data from the site and analyzing shopper data on a deeper level to boost its direct business.

“It made paying attention to DTC more justifiable for us,” said Mark Gordon, director of digital marketing at Jackson Family Wines, parent company of Kendall-Jackson. Before, Gordon said it was difficult to pinpoint any successful ROI when it came to the marketing pushes made around the DTC site. Beyond the number of direct sales the site was generating, Kendall-Jackson couldn’t see how or why people were visiting it. With data from Facebook’s attribution modeling tools, layered with Google Analytics, the company can now see, even retroactively, which customers came to the site from which specific campaigns and how long it took them to convert.

For example, Gordon explained that by using Facebook’s attribution modeling tools, Kendall-Jackson is able to track which customers clicked on a campaign ad on Facebook (the platform where the company sees the most conversions), and then who, two or three days later, finally converts on a purchase on its own website. It can then use shopper data, collected if a customer opts in, to create lookalike audiences of similar consumers and retarget customers with relevant offers on email and social media.

As of now, Kendall-Jackson sees 60 percent of its revenue from from its email offers, 20 percent from organic search and social posts, 10 percent from paid social posts and 10 percent from referrals from other websites, according to Maggie Curry, director of marketing of Jackson Family Wines.

While Kendall-Jackson would not reveal the overall ROI in revenue it is seeing from, Curry said the website generates an average of 50,000 unique visitors a month and 20 percent higher profit margins than physical retail or through, what Gordon calls the “digital wine shelves,” of e-commerce sites of retailers like Walmart, Kroger and Safeway’s. “There’s no middle-man for our site,” said Curry simply.

Shifting consumer sentiment around online grocery buying has also propelled more reason for the company to play in the space.

“Companies like Instacart have changed consumer perception about grocery buying online,” said Gordon. “That has made seeking conversions from social more viable.”

Kendall-Jackson currently sells around 40 wines online, ranging from $35 individual bottles to $85 gift sets. Since Kendall-Jackson wines are widely available in convenience stores and supermarkets, the company’s aim for its online goods is to make them exclusive. For that reason, most of the wines online can only be found at its tasting rooms at its winery in Santa Rosa, California. Jerry Roback, senior strategist at marketing consultancy Landor, said offering individual consumers in rural Missouri or Miami the same access as someone visiting the tasting rooms of a winery is new territory for brands traditionally concerned with selling to large chains and distributors.

“Typically, someone will read a review of one of our Jackson estate wine — they’ll do their research, they’ll find us on Google and purchase from us directly because they can’t find them where they live,” said Gordon.

As a wine producer and not a retailer, Kendall-Jackson has more control over where it can sell and mail wine. In the U.S. it can send its wines to customers in 37 states. Retailers, however, can only ship wine to states where they have physical locations, said Curry.

With its own direct sales channel, Kendall-Jackson is also able to sidestep the annoyances that come from working with big-box retailers. All big players in the wine industry struggle with making sure their product information on retailers’ websites is accurate, according to Gordon.

“There is no standardization. One retailer might want a spreadsheet. Another might want to give you a log-in to their content management system. They are all different.” A focus for Kendall-Jackson for 2019, is to create a portal that keeps all product information updated in one place for its retail partners.

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