Led by Moet-Hennessey's Moet & Chandon brand, the champagne category is transforming itself from a light-spending seasonal player to a year-round heavyweight, at least by the wine world's modest advertising standards.
In an attempt to revive sluggish sales hovering below late-1990s levels, Moet more than tripled U.S. ad spending last year to $9.5 million from $2.8 million to solidify its luxury credentials in a trading-up universe where its $40-a-bottle flagship, White Star, looks increasingly like an economy brand.
The outlay may not sound like a lot, until you consider that the heaviest wine ad spender, Yellow Tail, spent $10.3 million last year, according to TNS Media Intelligence, and that it moved 8.1 million cases compared to Moet's 585,000.
"I wouldn't say our brand was slipping, but it was not staying contemporary and relevant," said Stuart Foster, director-business development at Moet-Hennessy USA. "Luxury price points are just going up ... and we need to keep up."
A little flat
Moet, which also features several hyper-premium subbrands, including Dom Perignon, has slipped in recent years. During the late '90s, its market share tended to fluctuate between 40% and 43%; today it is in the high 30s, according to the wine-and-spirits trade magazine Impact. Its 2006 U.S. case sales -- which rose about 2%, thanks in part to the increased media support -- are still about 10,000 cases below 1998 levels.
|1. Including Dom Perignon. |
Source: TNS Media Intelligence
To remedy that, Moet last year brought to the U.S. its "Be Fabulous" campaign; the effort from Kirshenbaum, Bond & Partners, New York, was initiated overseas in 2005. The campaign, which features images of young, sleek and affluent revelers, is heavily weighted toward outdoor, magazine and online work.
And, unlike past efforts, the push is running during the summer. "The opportunity for us isn't to grow market share, it's to grow the whole market," said Mr. Foster. "The average U.S consumer drinks half a glass of champagne a year, the average British consumer drinks half a bottle and the average French consumer drinks three bottles. There's clearly room for growth."
More brands ramp up
Moet isn't the only brand that's come to that conclusion.
Pernod Ricard is planning a similar ramp up in marketing support behind its Perrier-Jouet and G.H. Mumm brands, which each spent less than $200,000 last year. "We're putting increased, year-round focus behind our champagne brands," said a Pernod Ricard USA spokesman. "They're iconic brands with strong potential for growth.
He declined to disclose details, but said the two brands would receive increased support across a broad media mix, and that Perrier-Jouet's prestige label, Fleur, would get a special emphasis.