Reconnecting with Chinese GTR shoppers

Since then brands have changed their strategies and now tend to focus on the premium sector rather than exclusive products.

Jerome Durand, managing director of Larsen and Renault cognacs, is choosing Asia as one of its main focal points in GTR. Larsen recently launched its VSOP and XO Reserve range specifically for the Asian market. The range sits at the top end of premium in GTR and Durand says: “Both these cognacs share the Larsen hallmark, which is all about purity, elegance and fruit expression, but we have worked with our partners, Asiaeuro, to tailor them to the market.

“Asia is very important to our travel retail sales. We have a three-year plan there and we’re already one year into this. It’s quite intense also because the market is so competitive.”


The Chinese middle and upper-classes are renowned for investing heavily in material goods. Tables in nightclubs, for example, are often covered in expensive bottles to showcase wealth – hence the development of fancy, expensive bottles for the Asian travel retail sector.

Courvoisier global brand ambassador Rebecca Asseline, says: “GTR offers a special gifting opportunity. It is important to present expressions that cannot be found elsewhere – a unique line of creations creating excitement and offering an exclusive feel.”

Although the premium market is now being exploited by the big cognac houses, exclusive releases will always be present in duty free shops. Not only are the savings greater, but this provides an opportunity to showcase exclusive expressions which can’t be found in supermarkets.

Whether these crystal decanters of 30-year-old cognacs are generating high sales is not really the point – they act as a giant advertisement to tourists, and if a premium range is sitting beneath them it could prompt increased GTR sales.


Durand from Renault and Larsen also values the brands’ traditional markets in GTR as well as Asia and the US. He says that the Nordics, Larsen’s biggest market, is still at the forefront of its plans in travel retail.

“For us the Nordics are true connoisseurs of cognac – they love it. Of course we want to succeed in Asia, but it’s just as important to retain popularity in markets that have been good for us in the past,” he says.

“We’re seeing the generation effect coming into play in the Nordics. Younger consumers are the focus because we need to attract the next wave to cognac, whereas in places such as China it is still a very new thing to many people.”

Although China’s imports of cognac have returned to a healthy place, the fact is that GTR is still lacking on a global scale.

The positives are that cognac brands are now adapting to the changing attitudes of Chinese tourists – which remain hugely influential in GTR – by offering different styles and price points, but for sure there is more work to be done.

Technology needs to advance, payments need to be more flexible and different travel retail markets need to monitor the trends in destinations of Chinese tourists in the future.