Nicolas Feuillatte: “We sacrificed in the short term”

Speaking ahead of its new marketing campaign, Enchanting life, Olivier Legrand has told Drinks International the world's third largest champagne brand sacrificed sales in the short term to protect its future.

“There was a slight decrease in exports last year, mainly due to the UK, because we don’t want to engage the brand in a price war. It will harm the image and value of the brand so we will continue to keep our price point,” the Nicolas Feuillatte marketing and communications manager said.

“In the UK, it was sacrifice for the future. It is a short-term problem and we are convinced that the brand will benefit when you have a strong brand image.”

It is hoped the new campaign, launched to commemorate the brand’s 40th anniversary, will add further value to the brand that sold 10.85 million cases last year and create an “emotional tie” with consumers in the UK and more globally.

“Nicolas Feuillatte is a commercial success,” Legrand said. “But, as a luxury brand, we should engage more and talk more in terms of emotion than value for money. When you ask consumers what they like about the brand most of the time they say it delivers more than its price but lacks emotion.”

Speaking about Enchanting Life - a campaign that intentionally steers away from bottles and any association with the liquid - Legrand said: “It was a campaign to reinforce the image of the brand and not the product. It is a point of difference to our competitors because it is not focusing on the product.”

The campaign marks the start of a long-term strategy for the recently recruited Legrand and the company. “It is a more long-term campaign to bring value to the brand rather than sales.”

In last month’s sales report, the company said global sales were slightly up by 2% but export volumes were down, due to the UK market.

In terms of other markets, the marketing and communications manager said the brand can “obviously do better in the US” but that sales in Asia, mainly Japan, are strong. “Japan is growing, which is interesting because the wine market is difficult. The champagne market continues to grow in Japan for Nicolas Feuillatte.”

Africa is another market that interests Legrand. Despite a difficult couple of years, he said: “I’m convinced Africa will be an interesting area for the future.”

As part of the long-term plan, a visitor centre will open in Champagne next June. “We didn’t want to be like the other brands in Epernay, we wanted to stay in the vineyards. The new centre is very modern and very different from the traditional buildings in Champagne. It will have a 360 degree view of the vineyard.

“Being the largest growers' champagne is very important for us and we wanted to remain in the vineyard.”

The new advertising campaign was launched by managing director Julie Campos and Legrand in Paris this week.