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Cognac Brand Champion 2020: Hennessy

Hennessy surpassed eight million cases in 2019

The world’s best‐selling Cognac brand, Hennessy, continued its upward sales trajectory in 2019 when it crossed the eight‐million‐case mark for the first time.

The Cognac, owned by French luxury conglomerate LVMH, grew by 2.9% last year. The only other million‐case Cognac in growth in 2019 was Courvoisier, but only by 0.1%. Martell and Rémy Martin declined by 1.1% and 4.4% respectively. It’s a stark contrast to 2018 when all four brands saw volumes grow.

For the fifth consecutive year, Cognac exports improved on the previous year’s performance in terms of both volume and value to reach their highest levels to date, according to the Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac (BNIC).

Exports from 1 August 2018 to 31 July 2019 surpassed 211.1 million bottles – an increase of 2.5% on the previous year. By value, exports reached €3.4 billion (US$3.7bn) – almost 6.9% more than in 2018.

According to LVMH’s 2019 financial results, Hennessy is now the “world’s leading premium spirits brand by value”. The Cognac increased sales on an organic basis by 6% last year, with “solid momentum” in its key markets – the US, China and travel retail.

Michaël Aidan, chief marketing and communications officer at Hennessy, says the brand’s growth was thanks to a “combination of product availability, strong in‐store visibility and impactful communication platforms”.

LVMH noted the brand “continued to extend its lead” in the emerging markets of Africa and the Caribbean, helped by the increase in sales of its flagship VS, VSOP and XO variants.

Aidan says Hennessy has “invested consistently and has always made it its business to remain locally relevant and close to its communities. Each market has been developed with the opposite of a one‐size‐fits‐all approach.” He adds that markets such as South Africa, Nigeria, Russia and the UK are essential to Hennessy’s development.

The brand’s success can perhaps be attributed to its marketing efforts. LVMH said the Hennessy XO – The Seven Worlds marketing campaign, directed by English filmmaker Ridley Scott, of Gladiator and Alien fame, was “one of the luxury industry’s most‐watched digital campaigns”, with more than 120m views in five months. LVMH said it had a “halo effect” on Hennessy. A 60‐second version of the video was aired during a commercial break for the Oscars in February 2019.

Hennessy has also harnessed the power of celebrity to promote its brand. Last year, the company named actor Henry Golding as the official ambassador for the brand’s Prestige range of Cognacs, including its XO variant and the Rare Cognac Collection. In June, the company also unveiled the latest chapter in its VSOP Privilège campaign, and launched its 2019 Very Special Limited Edition Release, designed by Argentine‐Spanish contemporary artist Felipe Pantone.

LVMH is planning to put solid investment behind Hennessy. The brand said it continues to “invest to prepare for the future and ensure a constant level of excellence in its Cognacs”. The firm opened seven wine cellars in 2019 and built a new packaging line at its €100m (US$110m) Pont Neuf site, which opened in 2017.

*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 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 %+/-
Hennessy LVMH 6.3 7.0 7.6 7.8 8.0 2.9%
Martell Pernod Ricard 2.2 2.1 2.3 2.6 2.6 -1.1%
Rémy Martin Rémy Cointreau 1.9 2.0 2.1 2.3 2.2 -4.4%
Courvoisier Beam Suntory 1.3 1.3 1.3 1.4 1.4 0.1%

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