After years helping to promote and tell the story of the Rhône with Inter Rhône in his senior marketing role, Olivier Legrand has now joined Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte to help re-position the brand with new and different stories for the premium on-trade. He explains why and how.
No matter how established and well known you are as a Champagne brand, it is vital you keep telling your story in new and interesting ways, says Olivier Legrand, the new marketing and communications manager at Nicolas Feuillatte.
How are you finding your new role at Champagne Nicolas Feuillatte?
Very busy and very exciting because it is such a huge responsibility. After 40 years Nicolas Feuillatte is the third largest global Champagne brand and my job, and that of the management team, is to help sustain this success at least for the next 40 years.
How different is it to what you were doing before at Inter Rhône?
I would say working for a producer reaches further than working for an interprofession. For example, it involves launching new products such as Graphic Ice, a Champagne to drink on ice with a slice of lemon, which targets specifically young consumers.
Marketing for a brand is a fantastic opportunity to apply what I have learnt while working for an interprofession.
What are the key objectives for the brand in the year ahead?
We’ve started repositioning the brand Nicolas Feuillatte, going back to its core identity as the largest grower’s Champagne and the youngest of the Champagne houses. We believe luxury is not a matter of social status, but of elegance and attitude, emotion and enjoyment, appreciation of the beautiful and the good. Our mission at Nicolas Feuillatte is to balance and reconcile luxury and emotion.
Our key objective for 2017 and beyond will be to cement the new positioning of the brand with a comprehensive and innovative marketing programme.
What specific activities do you have planned?
We’ve launched a new advertising campaign ‘Enchanter la Vie’, which suggests Champagne, its mystery, its magic but without showing the product. We’ve also launched a new magazine for our clients with a distribution of 100,000 copies. Each issue will focus on a key value of the brand as a way to share it with our clients. The first issue featured audacity and the next one generosity.
We have also started reinforcing our digital marketing strategy with an initial street marketing action that took place in London in the summer.
How do you see the UK market for Champagne compared to the rest of the world?
The UK is a very important market for Champagne in general, especially for Nicolas Feuillatte. It’s our second market in terms of volume and third largest market in terms of value. However, this is a complex and slightly “bipolar” market with both real connoisseurs of Champagne and very price sensitive consumers.
The UK wine market has always been one of the most open in the world, and this is very much the case for sparkling wines. It is therefore a market in which it is crucial to remain innovative and distinctive in order to maintain market share in a very competitive environment.
Where are the opportunities for growth in the on-trade?
The restaurant industry in the UK is one of the most dynamic in the world. It opens up many opportunities, especially for Nicolas Feuillatte which has the advantage of having a very wide range of wines. Some of these are specially dedicated to the on-trade, such as our vintages Blanc de Blancs and Blanc de Noirs, which have won many awards in the UK.
We also have our Vintage 225 which takes its name from the capacity of the oak barrel in which it was fermented and which produces a Champagne of great complexity which is perfect for gastronomy.
We’re also working on developing new concepts in the on-trade, such as Champagne “gourmand”. Which is three miniature delicacies served with a glass of Nicolas Feuillatte and presented on a plate specially designed for that purpose. It is a way to promote the consumption of Champagne during the meal. Launched in the spring, this offer dedicated to the on-trade has already attracted more than 100 restaurants in France, and it is growing in export markets, such as the USA.
How do you communicate and engage with buyers in the on-trade?
Our new advertising campaign targets consumers, but it also aims to seduce the trade as well as the general public. I suppose the tool that targets on-trade buyers most would be our new magazine.
What do you see as the main challenges for Champagne in the UK?
There are three main areas:
- Brexit is a big and complex concern, but in the short term the slide of the pound and its effect on the retail price of imported European wines in the UK is a challenge.
- Rock bottom entry level Champagnes harm the category and create a situation which is not sustainable in the long term.
- Competition from other sparkling wines such as Prosecco, which take market share from Champagne in the short term. I remain, however, convinced that this phenomenon increases the number of sparkling wines drinkers, and brings more consumers to Champagne eventually.
Outside of other Champagne houses who do you see as your main competitors for listings?
Prosecco and English sparkling wines.
Any specific brand news that on-trade buyers should know about.
Nicolas Feuillatte is a unique proposition: a grower’s Champagne with critical mass, a young brand with the dynamism of youth and a well-known name for British consumers. We intend to capitalise on these core strengths to develop our presence in the on-trade going forward.
What would success look like for you in a year’s time?
Come back in a year so that I am sure to give you the right answer!