Putting members before profit
As a co-operative (one member one share) The Society does not need to maximise profits or growth and is free to focus on member satisfaction. Our buying team are briefed only to purchase wines which excite them from producers who share their passion for quality at every price.
The best of the world's vineyards at the lowest possible price
Members tell us that the primary benefit of membership of The Society is access to our range: 1,400 wines from every corner of the world, to suit every pocket and palate. Our mutuality allows us to sell them at a lower price (or to invest more in quality and service) than we would be able to if we were driven to satisfy external shareholders. We call this our 'Mutual dividend'.
Plcs are driven by the need to increase dividends paid to shareholders and the capital value of their shares. To do this they have to work to maximise their profits by holding margins up and driving the volume of sales. As a mutual with no external shareholders to satisfy, we can keep our margins down and sell wine at the lowest possible price, having made appropriate investment in our services and infrastructure.
Quality guaranteed: The Society's Promise
If, for any reason, you haven't enjoyed a wine we want to hear about it and will happily offer a credit, a replacement or a refund as part of The Society's Promise.
This guarantee applies not just to wines bought for immediate consumption, but also to bottles stored for many years that don't mature as expected. For example, when a problem was found with a variety of white Burgundies, The Society was one of the few wine merchants to undertake a rigorous tasting of all possibly affected wines and we proactively reimbursed members the full replacement costs, in most cases before the member had even been aware of the problem.
Where good service just isn't good enough
Being a member-owned organisation, success is measured by member satisfaction. Our team of telephone advisers and Showroom staff are trained to serve members' needs, not to increase sales.
Delivering excellence (free of charge)
The Society has decades of experience in operating a national delivery service and we believe the quality it offers is second to none. The prices of our wines include the cost of UK delivery which makes a significant difference when comparing The Society's prices with those who charge for delivery.
We offer free UK delivery for all members, with no minimum spend. Deliveries are made by our fleet of Society vans or by carrier, with next-day delivery available for most UK addresses if orders are placed before midday.
The size is right
The Wine Society is big enough to benefit from economies of scale yet small enough to be able to buy from small, family-run wine producers who make some of our best wines. Long and fruitful associations with the most capable winemakers in the trade give us unique access to many rare and highly sought after wines.
We put great effort into negotiating with our suppliers so that we can offer good, sustainable everyday prices for our members, and we maintain these prices as low as we can for as long as we can. We offer occasional savings on wines and mixed cases, but the savings will always be transparent and clearly explained.
Our wines are offered to members at the best everyday price we can manage, taking into account the costs of running the business. We do, however, have two price-discounted promotions a year (Great Savings for Summer and Great Savings for Winter), where genuine reductions in price are funded by supplier support. We also have occasional clearances of bin-ends and may reduce a price if we find ourselves overstocked on a particular line. We look to encourage members to try new wines from off the beaten track and offer occasional savings to support exploration. In summary, we recognise the importance of price promotion, but we do not allow it to dominate our marketing in a way that would encourage members simply to buy on price without taking quality into account, and certainly not in a way that would deceive or mislead members.
Value for money in the £7–10 range
The fixed costs of wine production and duty are similar for all wines, whatever the price bracket. It follows, therefore, that the more you spend, the more (proportionally) goes to the actual value of the wine. For example, less than 5% of the cost of a £4.95 bottle goes into the wine itself; spend £14.95 and this rises to 43%. Increasing your spend from £6 to £9 (50%) delivers approximately a 200% increase in the value of wine in the bottle. And you can taste that difference. That is why so many of our wines are in this quality (and value) heartland.
The graph below shows the exponential rise in value as you spend more. The figures quoted will vary a little from merchant to merchant and from wine to wine, and will of course change as costs and duty fluctuate. We show the breakdown for a £4.95 bottle even though we no longer sell wine at this price. Hopefully the graph illustrates why!