How LVMH’s Courvoisier aims to create a new generation of cognac drinkers
LVMH-owned cognac brand Courvoisier recently served up some uniquely French ‘joie de vivre’ at a highly attended pop-up in Hong Kong, as part of its campaign to revive cocktail culture in the market. Jebsen Wine and Spirits, Courvoisier’s official distributor in Hong Kong, played a big role in creating a multisensory cognac experience, while the brand revealed a striking and refreshing new bottle design. Cognac is traditionally consumed as a digestive, and purists prefer it neat, or
t, or with a drop of water. But these days, Courvoisier is aiming to re-educate consumers about the versatility of its offering.
“This pop-up is part of a series of immersive global events from New York to Hong Kong, and beyond,” Kathryn Taylor, senior marketing manager for Jebsen Wines and Spirits, told Inside Retail.
The events not only serve to reposition the 175-year-old Courvoisier brand in a new, more contemporary light, but also introduce the versatility of cognac with innovative, light, and sessionable cocktails.
Some of the concoctions on offer at the Hong Kong pop-up were the Courvoisier French Twist, a blend of Courvoisier, orange Curacao, syrup, lemon juice and soda water, and the Island Daisy, a lighter mix of almond syrup and pineapple juice with lemon-flavoured soda water.
“Both cocktails use VSOP. We also unveiled our Courvoisier XO, a richer, well-aged blend that many guests enjoyed comparing the two SKUs,” Taylor said.
The Hong Kong event also featured a perfumery station by Artisenses, where guests had a chance to sample the scents of the brand’s cognac portfolio.
But despite Courvoisier’s big name backer, Taylor said its brand awareness is relatively low in Hong Kong.
“The cognac market is in decline and has become very much about the pricing and gifts with purchase (GWP) offers during key seasonal periods such as [the] Mid Autumn Festival and Chinese New Year,” she noted.
She added that many cognac drinkers are generally older and switching to whisky.
By emphasising how well Courvoisier can work in cocktails and its fresh new look, the brand is aiming to target a younger crowd.
Another way it aims to do this is by focusing on its lower alcohol by volume (ABV) offerings for those who are trying to drink less.
“Courvoisier is tapping into a market that would generally overlook the entire category by changing the conversation and occasion around cognac consumption,” she said.
Hoping to bounce back
Times have been tough for the food and beverage industry as well as the hospitality industry in Hong Kong over the past three years.
The pandemic and current uncertainties over a possible recession, inflationary pressures and supply chain bottlenecks have all contributed to the current malaise.
“The impact on the F&B and hospitality industries was enormous, with harsh restrictions on bars and restaurants and the knock-on effect of tourism coming to a sudden halt,” Taylor said.
According to her, Hong Kong’s reputation as a dynamic, vibrant and buzzy city, famed for its nightlife, where drinks are consumed at all hours, was always predominantly driven by tourists.
“The positive is that as things open up and the rules continue to be relaxed, we think Hong Kong will come back booming in 2023, with the return of global events such as Art Basel and Rugby 7s,” she said.
Mannie Ma, brand manager for Courvoisier reiterated the importance of the Hong Kong market to the cognac brand.
“China, including the Hong Kong region, is one of the most important markets for [the] Courvoisier global business. Additionally, our brand prioritises the consumer and culture connection in each market to strengthen brand equity and be more targeted in our strategy,” Mannie Ma, told Inside Retail.
Courvoisier, like many brands in the luxury space, is exploring technologies like augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), Web 3.0, non fungible tokens (NFTs) and the metaverse.
“Courvoisier continues to prioritise the digitalisation of the brand as a pivotal step to recruit premium lifestyle-seeking consumers,” Ma said.
She said the brand will continue to explore foundational digital functions while keeping an eye on the most appropriate new technology to embed in future digital initiatives.
The future beckons
Ma believes that despite the impact of the pandemic and the prevailing uncertainties in the global economy that have impacted the cognac category, modern consumers are looking for a more vibrant and refreshing premium spirits experience.
“Female drinkers are increasing as well. To echo the movement, Courvoisier is in the right place to create a welcoming and sophisticated offer to consumers with luxury, contemporary and innovative drinking releases,” she said.
In 2021, Courvoisier launched its first limited-edition ‘mizunara’ release in mainland China, which brought together the finest and rarest wood selection with a blend of its Grande Champagne Eaux-de-vie to create a unique offering.
“Maison Courvoisier’s sixth generation master blender, Patrice Pinet, collaborated with Shinji Fukuyo, fifth generation Chief blender of the House of Suntory, drawing on their collective expertise characterised by the art of blending to create a unique and rare cognac,” she stated.
This year, she explained that the new-look Courvoisier product range will incorporate unique elements from the brand’s design archives, which first made the name Courvoisier iconic during the 1800s.
“The refreshed packaging and Courvoisier’s celebrity endorsement with iconic actor Mr Kaneshiro Takeshi unveiled the brand’s ambition to re-establish itself as the iconic modern luxury brand that rejuvenates the cognac category in the market,” she concluded.
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