Cognac Brand Champion 2019: Martell
French spirit Cognac has weathered multiple challenges over the years. From austerity measures that caused sales to plummet in China, to freak hail storms and spring frosts, in 2018 the category was able to, against the odds, grow exports for a fourth consecutive year to reach a record 204.2m bottles, according to the Bureau National Interprofessional du Cognac (BNIC). While the million-case-selling Cognac club may be small, all four brands saw volumes grow last year. But it was Martell, with its 16.4% increase, that proved most deserving of the Cognac Brand Champion 2019 accolade.
“Last year, Martell achieved the strongest growth (double-digit growth in value and volume) of Pernod Ricard,” says Patricia Kastrup, vice-president of marketing at Maison Martell. “Maison Martell’s global success is also down to our own strong eﬀorts, such as the implementation of a new route to market in key markets, including the US, and overall more focus on premiumisation and innovation.”
As part of its innovation strategy, last year the brand launched a Cognac-based spirit drink ﬁnished in Kentucky Bourbon casks, called Blue Swift. Made with VSOP Cognac, the spirit is matured in French oak casks before being ﬁnished in Kentucky Bourbon barrels. Its aim was to “reinvent” the Cognac category.
“We ﬁrmly believe that the consumer is getting more and more educated and knowledgeable about spirits, and is looking for premium luxury products as well as meaningful innovation, product beneﬁt and excitement beyond age statements,” says Kastrup. “When Christophe Valtaud, our cellar master, created this unprecedented expression it was with the ambition to oﬀer consumers the meaningful innovation and audacity they were looking for.”
Travel retail has also become a “clear focus” for the brand, with travel retail-exclusives such as Martell Cordon Bleu Extra and the Single Estate Collection proving popular among travellers. Last year, Martell partnered with artist Sabrina Transiskus to create a travel retail-exclusive design for Cordon Bleu as another way to oﬀer consumers the additional level of exclusivity that’s sought in the duty-free arena.
“Martell is performing particularly well in Asia and Americas travel retail, where the brand’s luxury positioning, heritage and high quality is valued by international passengers,” notes Kastrup. “In Europe, London airports are also historical strongholds for Martell.”
But the collaborations won’t stop there. Pernod Ricard has big plans for Martell this year to maintain its position in the category. The brand will pursue its 2019 Martell Gifting collection, partnering with four international creative talents: Matthias Kiss, André, Ghetto Gastro and Dr Woo. “Hailing from diﬀerent domains and diﬀerent cultures, they are united by a spirit of audacity, which has led them to forge their own paths to success – something they share with our DNA,” adds Kastrup. “We will reveal the outcome of this unprecedented collaboration in September 2019, when the limited edition designs will be launched throughout the world.”
*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)
|Rémy Martin||Rémy Cointreau||1.7||1.9||2.0||2.1||2.3||7.5%|