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Brandy Brand Champion 2018: Paul Masson Grande Amber

New flavour variants and the small-size occasion have boosted Paul Masson's sales
New flavour variants and the small-size occasion have boosted Paul Masson’s sales

A former Brandy Brand Champion, Constellation Brands-owned Paul Masson Grande Amber is a consistent performer in the category. This year the brand has grabbed the title once again as one of only a few brandies not to have suffered a decline in 2017. The brand witnessed a slight rise in sales last year, up 1.5% to just below the 2m case mark.

Made in the Napa Valley for more than 100 years, the brand takes pride in tradition yet doesn’t rest on its laurels, having released a number of flavoured variants, including a mango expression, “which drove key incremental growth” last year. US parent company Constellation Brands plans to build on this flavour approach with the launch of a Paul Masson Grande Amber and Iced Tea programme in stores.

Carl Evans, Constellation Brands’ vice-­president of spirits, attributes the brandy’s success to a wider “lack of premiumisation, which leaves the opportunity for us to continue to lead”. He also notes that brandy’s looser regulations have helped to “create more room for the category to expand”.

In addition to new flavour variants, a focus on a smaller bottle formats has helped boost sales. “Paul Masson Grande Amber VS small sizes have been driving a lot of growth for the brand over the past year as well. This continued focus on the small­-size occasion has been the biggest contributor to our success,” says Evans.

Paul Masson Grande Amber has enjoyed success in key southern US states, including Florida, Georgia and Texas. The brand is optimistic for the coming year and has already grown by 17% in Texas since March, driven by its established peach-flavoured offering and the larger format of its VS variant. But maintaining its unrelenting growth will require effort. “We are looking to sustain our momentum and continue to drive sales through retail programmes, point of sale and our consistent product that helps maintain a very loyal consumer base,” says Evans. “We are not releasing anything new this year so we have the opportunity to focus on our core offerings, as well as flavours.”

Elsewhere in the global brandy scene, the world’s best­-selling brandy, Alliance Global Group’s Emperador, continued to witness disappointing sales, which tumbled by 3.2% to 27.1m cases. Meanwhile, United Spirits’ McDowell’s No.1 witnessed the biggest drop in the category, down by 22.7% to 1.7m cases.

Brandy has long-­struggled to step out of the shadows of its cousin spirit Cognac – so much so that consumers often forget Cognac is a tightly regulated sub-­category of the broader brandy sector. But despite brandy’s struggles, pockets of promise continue to arise in markets such as the US, China and South Africa.

*The Brand Champions data is listed to one decimal place for ease of reading, but the percentage changes are based on the full data supplied. All brand data is supplied in millions of nine-­litre cases.

Brandy (figures: million 9l case sales)

BRAND OWNER 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 %+/-­
Emperador Alliance Global Group 33.0 33.0 30.5 28.0 27.1 -3.2%
Dreher Gruppo Campari 3.3 3.4 3.4 3.3 3.4 1.5%
Old Admiral Brandy Radico Khaitan 3.9 3.5 3.3 3.5 3.1 -12.1%
Paul Masson Grande Amber Constellation Brands 1.3 1.6 1.9 2.0 2.0 1.5%
McDowell’s No.1 Brandy United Spirits 2.4 2.4 2.7 2.2 1.7 -22.7%
Torres Brandy Torres 1.4 1.4 1.4 1.3 1.4 1.6%
Old Kenigsberg Alliance 1892 Brandy Factory 1.5 1.4 1.4 1.3 1.3 0.8%
Christian Brothers Heaven Hill Brands 1.1 1.1 1.1 1.1 1.1 -2.5%
Officer’s Choice Brandy Allied Blenders & Distillers 0.5 0.7 1.1 1.2 1.0 -16.0%

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