The Brandy Report (4/12): The Promised Land

02 March, 2015

“However, as a premium brandy from Barcelona, Torres is more focused on building our own brand proposition, rather than being a value alternative to cognac.”

It’s a different story for Williams & Humbert in China, where the company’s Gran Duque d’Alba Brandy de Jerez is happy to go toe-to-toe with its cognac rivals. “China is a very important market for Brandy Gran Duque d’Alba as the Chinese consumer demands top-range spirits and quality brandy as a more competitive alternative to cognac,” says Williams & Humbert international marketing manager Gonzalo Medina. 

“The intermediaries are looking for alternatives to cognac at more affordable prices and similar characteristics but, at the same time, quality spirits.”

Agreeing that cognac’s high prices have proven beneficial to brandy, Medina says the Gran Duque d’Alba range is distributed in various Chinese provinces. But there is still work to do. “We still need to make the consumer aware of the quality of this spirit. In this sense, the Brandy de Jerez sector is undergoing a moment of change as we are working to establish strategic lines and reposition the category,” he says.

At Beveland, product and marketing manager Jordi Xifra agrees. “The main point is the history to tell to the consumer, the added value that the product has, the experience of the consumption of the product,” he says. “If you don’t have a strong approach to explain to the consumer, it will be impossible to be close to the consumer.”

However, supplanting cognac in more mature western markets is altogether more difficult, warns Rakotomalala. “On the mature markets, VS cognac cannot be replaced by brandy because the consumer doesn’t compare both cognac and brandy,” he says.

“For example, in the US, the VS market continues to grow. In Europe, because of the price increase and the difficulty to get some stocks, buyers preferred to reduce the number of cognac SKUs without adding any brandy.”

In this environment, argues Rakotomalala, the most logical beneficiaries of pricing and stock issues for cognac aren’t rival brandies at all but other brown spirits and especially scotch, Irish and American whiskies. 

The Brandy Report comes in 12 parts. Folllow the links here Category introduction by Hamish Smith (1/12), Brandy in the Philipinnes by Hamish Smith (2/12)Cognac by Nicholas Faith (3/12)Premium brandies by Richard Woodard (4/12)Armagnac by Ian Buxton (5/12)French brandy by Hamish Smith (6/12)Spanish brandies by Dominic Roskrow (7/8)

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Nick Strangeway

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