These days it’s commonplace for restaurants and food companies to use social media as a platform to connect with their consumers on a personal level.
So why then would a social media site for wine seem like anything cutting edge?
Well Naked Wines is not your average online retailer. Referred to as the ‘Facebook for wine lovers,’ Naked Wines creates a direct connection between consumers and winemakers.
It enables thousands of people across Australia to interact and share their love of wine: rating different brands, recommending new wines and asking the big questions of winemakers like ‘what’s coming next?’.
While the concept may only seem like a location for the select few who really know their vinos, it’s actually become a great marketing strategy for an entire online wine retailer.
Naked Wines invests in new wine makers and start-ups in the wine industry and sells their products for low cost on their site.
The method they’ve developed to fund this further enhances the connection between the customer and the winemaker.
Customers are encouraged to invest $40 per month with which they can then spend freely on wine on the site (these investors are known as ‘Angels’).
The money from the Angels is then used to fund winemakers who hand-craft wines at wholesale prices.
This in turn creates a service that is personalised and customer focused, demonstrating why they have been so successful thus far.
Naked Wines is celebrating their one year anniversary in Australia, so Lunch had a chat with Managing Director, Luke Jecks to get the low down on why Australians love the company and what’s next for Naked Wines.
How did the idea for Naked Wines first begin?
A friend and entrepreneurial genius (he’d kill me for saying that), Rowan Gormley started the concept in the UK in November, 2008. Just as the Global Financial Crisis hit… terrible timing to start a new business, but it forced us to take a different approach and thankfully the different road worked! They reached 100,000 Angels in just four years and we inherited their culture.
How long was it in the works to begin Naked Wines in Australia?
I started talking to Rowan seriously about Naked Wines and Australia in January, 2012. By July, 2012 we launched and begun trading.
How has the growth of the company gone during its first year in Australia?
We have reached 13,000 Angels, sold over 750,000 bottles of wine and invested in some amazing Australian winemakers. We’ve had over 70,000 interactions between wine makers and customers.
What are some of the things that customers in Australia seem to appreciate most about Naked Wines?
The quality and value for money of the wines without a doubt! But also the opportunity to change the lives of winemakers and friend them along the way. Our customers and wine makers talk online every evening. We cut all the costly people and stuff out of the way and created a direct relationship between the maker and the drinker and they love it (so do the wine makers).
Are the majority of customers on the site registered as Angels?
Yes, it really makes little sense not to be. There are no subscriptions, no fees, no minimum periods or memberships. The $40 a month that Angels put in their account is their money to use on the wines they want (or to even take back whenever they please). And it gets them up to 50 per cent cheaper prices!
Why do you think the social aspect of Naked Wines has been so successful?
Wine is a social drink, best enjoyed with others. So our product helps. It is also ridiculously pretentious, people want to enjoy and discuss their wine and we’ve made it easy for them.
What were some of the initial reactions to the idea of Naked Wines from Australian winemakers?
“Sounds too good to be true.”
How many winemakers do you typically meet with each month to see if you will help fund their wine-making?
Between three and four.
What makes a winemaker stand out?
Obviously an ability to make amazing wine, complemented by a passion to amaze, a strong desire for freedom and genuine excitement at the prospect of talking directly with customers.
What do you love most about your job?
This is going to sound really soppy, but we get so involved in our winemakers story that by the time they launch to our customers I love seeing the reactions from the customers and the instant welcome they get. Aside from that, we have an amazing team who love what they do and that makes coming to work every day easy… oh and the fact our office is 50 meters from Newport beach.
What’s next for Naked Wines?
We aim to completely revolutionise wine production in Australia! To do that we are going to need an army of 20,000 Angels to take on the Big Supermarkets Colesworths. We can’t wait!