Champagne: Travelling in style

15 October, 2015

Guerlain’s master perfumer, Thierry Wasser, has even created a customised scent for the boutique that aims to conjure up the perfume that hangs over Champagne’s vineyards at the time of flowering in late spring, early summer. Pick up a bottle of Dom Pérignon’s latest 2005 vintage release and you hear the dulcet tones of chief winemaker Richard Geoffroy talking about what makes it special. 

As well as the designer bottlings with ever more glitzy packaging endorsed, in the case of Dom Pérignon, by the likes of David Lynch, Jeff Koons and Iris van Herpen, this outlet also boasts unique older vintages, such as Moët & Chandon 1959 magnums, the Veuve Clicquot Cave Privée collection – currently 1990 Rosé and 1989 Brut – and Dom Pérignon Oenothèque vintages, now remarketed as P2 (1993, 1996 & 1998) and P3 (1971). De Fontaines-Guillaume says regular visitors can reserve wines barely available elsewhere in domestic retail outlets and pick them up next time they are passing through the terminal.

“The Moët Hennessy Boutique showcases rare, high-end products, older vintages and large formats. Therefore what is vital for this operation is having on hand Moët Hennessy-trained ambassadors who have been to all the maisons and are knowledgeable about the wines in their individual ranges. Someone who can talk about the whole Krug story and what makes Dom Pérignon unique.

“We have tried to make it a sophisticated and consumer-friendly environment. We see it as a generous approach to our consumers, making exclusive products available, sharing the savoir faire of our winemakers.”   

Outside France, Moët Hennessy doesn’t target particular gateways or a specific nationality, rather it takes a uniform approach concentrating on the target audience wherever they are with tactical, seasonal activity.

De Fontaines-Guillaume says:  “Moët is currently activating around Ice Impérial, a ground-breaking champagne enjoyed on ice. We focused on the summer resorts and Spanish airports such as Mallorca, Palma, Ibiza and Barcelona, with beach-club atmosphere pop-ups at the airport.”  She believes “it is crucial to innovate in travel retail to engage with the traveller through experiences, exclusive products and services.”

Juliette Allain, commercial director at Nicolas Feuillatte, sees travel retail as “a showcase for the major international brands, a place where it is very important for the big players to be seen”. She adds: “And it’s a retail environment where people are not so stressed – if they are going on holiday they are likely to be in a good mood and happy to spend. The shops are well organised and it’s a win-win situation for the brands.

“For us and most other houses, Brut NV is the key player. To make our offer unique we have exclusive packaging for the sector, such as the gold canister Xploration (which features black planes) launched at Cannes last year.” It also benefits from the Feuillatte advertising catch line “New York and beyond…” which works well in the sector.

Gifting is obviously an important purchase driver but so is personal consumption. And as de Fontaines-Guillaume says: “People tend to buy as gifts products that they personally like.” Something the twin pack Brut NV offering, widely seen in UK entry and departure points, caters for well.

Feuillatte has been working on the gifting front and Allain says: “Palmes d’Or, our iconic prestige cuvée in its black lacquered box, is perfectly designed to meet this demand.” While Feuillatte has many other options within its range, including three styles of rosé, she thinks the market currently splits between the prestige lines and Brut NV, with other products in between harder to promote without in-store expertise to guide customers.

This is one of the reasons that working with the airlines and cruise lines is attractive, as it offers sampling opportunities. Allain says: “Once potential customers have tasted the brand they will consider buying it next time. Being the third largest international brand helps us to build this network.” Feuillatte works with KLM and Finnair in Europe plus United and American Airlines in the US.    

At Laurent-Perrier, UK managing director David Hesketh sees the greater importance of gifting as the main difference between high street sales and travel retail. The company promotes its market-leading rosé in a new ‘cage’ presentation and tins as value-added gifts. “Consumers even within this retail environment seek a bargain and the ‘two for £x’ fulfils this need. This purchase is more about personal consumption – investment in display and packaging is focused on the prestige cuvées where gifting is key.” He confirms it’s an important market for visibility of the brand, and thus prestige cuvée Grand Siècle is available in BA’s first class cabin, but he also asserts it’s important for “profitable sales”. 


On the international front, Jean-Christian de la Chevalerie, Laurent-Perrier travel retail director, sees travel retail as an “excellent way to boost visibility and an essential tool for our development in Asia with sales to travellers from China, Japan and south east Asia going well, as well as Dubaï (the airport is known as the 6th continent) and Abu Dhabi”.

He adds: “We will continue with a full range of dedicated actions, such as pop-up animations at airports, POS displays in duty free shops where passenger flow is the most important, tastings in VIP lounges and limited-edition offerings.” 

Lanson too sees Far and Middle Eastern gateways as important, says export manager Boisseau. “While Brut is the most widely sold style, the sales mix is certainly more favourable to rosé and prestige cuvées and that’s particularly true with Asian and Middle Eastern travellers. This is a growing sector and retailers are raising their standards to become an even better international shop window. We will be launching our travel retail-exclusive pack for Lanson Black Label at Cannes.” 

“Bollinger has recognised the importance of travel retail, but has probably not done enough yet to fully embrace the sector,” says Andrew Hawes, MD at Mentzendorff. “London, as a truly international hub between east and west, is currently a key area for our travel retail activity. Etihad Airways has recently poured Bollinger rosé in business and La Grande Année in first class. Grande Année has also been poured in British Airways first class, but only ever from full bottle.

“Ayala Brut Majeur is also currently pouring in Air France business class. Champagne is expected in these premium classes and airlines’ choices are increasingly scrutinised as discerning travellers look for the best quality and value.

“We have developed an exclusive single bottle pack for World Duty Free, the Special Cuvée Pentagon gift pack, which has been successful and shows the consumer is keen to access product not available elsewhere,” says Hawes.

Thanks partly to efforts to upgrade the overall shopping experience, the travel retail sector looks set to continue playing a major role in promoting champagne.    

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