Marketing to Women Online – Middle Sister Wines Case Study

Middle Sister Wine home page top 
Women, websites and wine are three of my favorite subjects.  So when I met Susan Lombardi at a recent conference and found out she was working on a website for a new wine company targeting women, I sat my butt down and settled in for a lively conversation.

Middle Sister Wines has done a masterful job of creating a brand and an online presence to connect with women consumers.

First – a little background

Middle Sister Wines was created by Erin Wassum – a real middle sister, and Terry Wheatley – a wine professional with over 30 years in the business.  According to the website:

Terry’s mission has long been to bring a female point-of-view to the male-dominated world of wine. Terry started her wine company, Canopy Management, with friends in the wine industry to create delicious, affordable wines with stories that come from her life experiences. Middle Sister was inspired by the style and attitude of the sassy second daughter of one of her closest family friends and the middle sisters she has met along her way.

Why Middle Sister Wines' website is so successful

Middle Sister understands what women want from a website.

  • Bright colors – The site uses a variety of bright fun colors, but with plenty of white space so it's not overwhelming.
  • Unusual fonts – We learned from Gender, Design and Marketing that women like unusual fonts. The fonts used on the site are informal and fun – just like the brand itself.
  • Interactive, interactive, and more interactive-The whole site is designed to create ways for customers to interact with the brand and with each other with features like quizzes, photo sharing, and social media links.  My favorite is a picture of Rebel Red you can print off and take with you to include in your photo ops which you can then post back on the site.  Too funny.
  • An open design– Women like design that is open, less compartmentalized.   Instead of lots of boxed elements, the site features a more holistic, open feel with only squiggly lines to separate elements.
  • A fun personality– Everything from the copy to the labels to the personalities of the wines themselves are fun and engaging.  The brand has a very distinctive voice.  This is critical when you're marketing to women.   Here are a few tips on how to find your brand's voice. 

The site only launched recently, but they've seen a huge increase in site visitors, newsletter sign-ups, and Facebook page fans. 

What do women think of the site?

The most important question is – does the Middle Sister Wines website connect with women consumers?  Here are examples of the feedback so far:

This site ROCKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hi Sister! I just discovered your wine, found at a little shop in
Lambervtville, New Jersey. They carry the Drama Queen PG. It's delicious and particularly appealing to me as I AM the middle sister! Great website!

Had the Rebel Red for the first time and loved it!! Your marketing is
brilliant. We really hope to get your wines added at our local shop!

Love the wine and the labels! Sisters are the best

Just bought my first bottle at Target b/c I LOVED the label! I can't wait to try the wine. You all are very clever and funny…love it!!

You ladies are too cool!

LOVE the new website!

Love the logo. I have 2 sisters and I am the middle one! Took the quiz and it was pretty right-on. I LOVE pinot grigio

What do women think of your website?  Is it female friendly?

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13 Responses to Marketing to Women Online – Middle Sister Wines Case Study

  1. Jeff says:

    Great post, Holly,
    My wife bought a bottle of the wine based on the label alone – Now that’s good marketing! Plus the wine was good enough that we’ll be buying more. As the parents of 3 girls we know all about the “Middle Sister Syndrome” and its very clear that the website totally fulfills visitor expectations for sassy fun that the brand name implies. Loved your analysis of all the elements that go into making that happen.
    – Jeff

  2. Anne says:

    Hi Holly,
    I am launching a new online business targeted primarily at women, and I am so glad to have found your site! I really appreciate the wealth of information – some of which has my nodding my head, because it matches my gut – but some of which is surprising.
    One thing I’m pondering right now is the style of graphic (line art, like my logo and other little icons) I want to have on my site. I expect most of my customers to be women, but the site is not explicitly for women, like, and some minority of customers will be men. Any thoughts?

  3. Holly Buchanan says:

    Jeff – you definitely have your hands full with those lovely daughters of yours. Glad you like the wine – it really is a fun brand.
    Anne – I always say design your website and your brand based on your company values. Just because you’re marketing mainly to women doesn’t mean you need to “paint it pink.” But there are many design elements that will appeal to both men and women – good use of white space, having a real voice/personality, answering your customers questions, using colors that evoke the emotions you want your brand to convey.
    I’d just stay away from proven elements than can hurt conversion for women – for example black backgrounds, reverse text,logos that have lots of sharp lines and are very mechanical-looking, use of techno-jargon, language that can be considered boasting, bashing your competition, not having enough of a personal connection in your About Us section.
    Hope that helps. Good luck with your venture!

  4. Holly – thanks so much for featuring our website! We really appreciate your comments and respect your opinion. We are flattered that you respect our marketing approach and we will keep you posted on our future successes. Cheers! Susan

  5. Hello
    You have given really very nice information about middle sister wine.Thank you very much for giving such a good information.You have done a good job.Keep up the good work.

  6. I recently came across your blog and have been reading about Online marketing. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

  7. Tracy says:

    Hello Holly
    I came across your website today, very helpful and informative.
    I was wondering whether this topic comes up alot amongst your readers.
    Do they have many issues with online fraud and women hesitant to purchase online regarding the safety of their financial transactions or opening themselves to possible ID theft not with the particular business but what happens on internet in between wanting to make a purchase and their information transmitted across the internet ?
    Have you any insights ?
    If this is an issue for readers could you please share how they overcame this

  8. That explains so much about why I’m not comfortable with my own website – its about weddings, so its 90% aimed at women! I need a test group now!

  9. I really liked reading about your example.Women do get attracted to a website by the points you have mentioned over here.Middle Sister Wine Cases study was an explanation of that.Thanks a lot.

  10. Chynna says:

    What a joy to find soomene else who thinks this way.

  11. Just wanted to send a big shout out and THANK YOU to everyone responding here and through email.
    Your responses are FABULOUS. I expected nothing less.
    Keep them coming.

  12. Sofia says:

    Could just be the lack of chocolate and wine in this house right now, and the ranmapt PMS, but I did get one thing from that article I now know which wine company to avoid like the plague. Way to dump all over the consumers you are trying to attract.

  13. Elisa says:

    many times to university adntrisiratoms; students at all ages need role models that look like them so they can imagine themselves in the same roles. Male Ceos, VPs, deans of colleges, superintendents are all the norms that cause young women to view their chances of gaining such positions as slim. Once in the job market, young women I speak to still express dismay at being ignored in business meetings, having their ideas claimed by males that are not called out by colleagues, dismissed openly or just not given a chance to make an impact with poor assignments or no chance to shine a light on their capabilities. It makes me so sad that these things are still occurring 40 years later. I was at a meeting yesterday full of volunteers. There were four women and 14 men, the two leaders were men. The women spoke up fairly well but the men’s comments were more often noted. I will give kudos to the male leader who caught a comment from a woman that was tread upon by a man and made note of it for the group. Such behavior can encourage a woman to continue to contribute. However, it is still daunting to be in the minority and feel as though you have to fight for attention to your contributions. Perhaps EMBA programs need to focus more on the benefits of having women in your team for MEN, rather than trying to make special help programs for women. Such special programs make women feel like they are in the slow class rather than being given something more that will elevate them. In the end it will have to be men who make room for women and value them on their team, give support for attempts to contribute and encouragement for those smart women to really succeed. One of the comments after the referenced article about the percentage of women in MBA programs indicated that women are more likely to leave for having children and choose a major that is less likely to view this negatively, overlooks the issues that arise in making room for women in the workforce. I find it odd that men see women who leave to have children as a liability. It is a short trip to then understand why women choose not to strive for the higher ranks, when having a child is viewed as an impedence to good business. Why would a woman who wants a family ever sacrifice this for a job that is probably out of reach? A loss of hope results and women just say I value my family over this company, feeling forced to make a choice. One department chair at a university where I worked once told a woman that she had chosen an inconvenient time to have a child for the university, pressured her to stay in an organic lab during her pregnancy and then pressured her to return to work when her child was in intensive care. I can bet that no man who announces the impending birth of his new child is neither told that nor given anything but congratulations upon the arrival of that child. The data in this article make it clear that women are a major positive force for companies that open the doors and help women be contributors. MBA and EMBA programs need to emphasize that for the new men entering the workforce and educate them to understand that helping women be successful not only will advance their own career but also the fortunes of the business.

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