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Cognac Brand Champion 2018: Hennessy

Hennessy is the world’s best-selling Cognac

The world’s best­-selling Cognac brand, Hennessy, continued its upward sales trajectory in 2017, when it notched up impressive growth.

In its 2017 full-year results, brand owner Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy (LVMH) revealed that Hennessy’s volumes increased by 8.5%, with “significant” growth in China and the US, despite supply constraints in the second half of the year.

And the company is keen to invest further in the brand. During the final quarter of 2017, Hennessy opened a €100m (US$118m) bottling and logistics plant to reinforce its production capacity. The 26,000sqm Pont Neuf site has the ability to produce 24m bottles annually.

Hennessy’s continued growth could be partially attributed to its numerous marketing endeavours, including the brand’s Wild Rabbit campaign. The Cognac is often associated with hip­hop and recently collaborated with rapper A$AP Ferg on a creative campaign video and exclusive track. Hennessy’s Paradis Imperial expression also stepped into the limelight with the launch of its first global marketing campaign, Made of Precision, last year.

As well as its marketing drives, the Cognac house unveiled the latest release from its Very Special Limited Edition bottle series, created in partnership with American graffiti artist JonOne. The design was the seventh in an ongoing series of collaborations between Hennessy VS and internationally renowned artists.

Last year was also a record year for the category overall, as global Cognac exports reached their highest levels in both value and volume, resulting in a turnover of €3.15bn (US$3.85bn), according to figures from the Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac (BNIC). All over the world there are signs that Cognac is in demand, from its biggest market, the US, to Africa, the Baltics and Europe – and even China, where sales are at last rebounding following drastic declines resulting from the government’s 2012 austerity measures.

Looking to the future, the industry is aiming to reinforce its image as a “product with a guaranteed origin and authenticity” by launching a new brand identity for the Cognac appellation. The BNIC is currently rolling out the new identity across all communications.

Taking into account the wider million-­case Cognac category, and the only brand to decline was Beam Suntory’s Courvoisier, down 2.7%. Last year, Courvoisier became one of the first major Cognac houses to move into barrel finishing, launching Courvoisier Sherry Cask Finish as part of its effort to “shake up” the category. This innovation is indicative of a broader experimental streak emerging across the sector.

Meanwhile, Rémy Martin witnessed a 7% increase, maintaining its third­-place spot – but only slightly behind Pernod Ricard­-owned Martell, which returned to growth last year, rising by 4.8% to 2.2m cases.

*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.

Cognac (figures: million 9l case sales)

BRAND OWNER 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 %+/-­
Hennessy LVMH 5.8 5.9 6.3 7.0 7.6 8.5%
Martell Pernod Ricard 1.9 1.9 2.2 2.1 2.2 4.8%
Rémy Martin Rémy Cointreau 1.8 1.7 1.9 2.0 2.1 7.0%
Courvoisier Beam Suntory 1.4 1.4 1.3 1.3 1.3 -2.7%

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