THE PRESIDENT OF VEUVE CLICQUOT TALKS “RICH”, THE COMPANY’S NEW CHAMPAGNE, AND WHERE THE LUXURY MARKET FOR FINE CHAMPAGNE IS GOING INTERVIEW By Mark Keast
Veuve Clicquot has rolled out RICH, a champagne specifically made for mixing, a move that company president Jean-Marc Gallot tells us is a sign of the times. Mixology is where it’s at, and the purists need to adjust. Bold move, for sure.
Mr. Gallot says part of the new strategy here is going after a younger clientele, while staying loyal to the older generations who have been loyal to a brand that goes back over 240 years. Re: Luxe sat down with Mr. Gallot in Toronto’s Hotel Le Germain Maple Leaf Square.
RL: What are some of the things you are doing to really understand your customer in Canada?
JMG: Canada is extremely important to us. We have deep roots here. It is one of our top three markets outside Europe, along with the U.S. and Japan. With my background (Mr. Gallot held various management positions at Cartier, Christofle, and Ferragamo, prior to joining LVMH in 2003 as general manager for Louis Vuitton North America, then advancing up through the French multinational luxury goods conglomerate), I have a little bit of experience in luxury maison. What I found in Veuve Clicquot was strong DNA, and an iconic founder and persona in Madame Clicquot, who was very innovative. Innovation is everything at Clicquot, and we are comfortable in a market like Canada where we have such great roots to launch a truly innovative new champagne.
RL: Is the luxury market in Canada any different than places like Europe or the U.S.?
JMG: I am from France, and spent eight years of my life living in the U.S. with my family, just north of New York, which was the best time of my life. For me, Canada is the best of the two worlds – Europe and the U.S. You have the efficiency, the pragmaticism, the entrepreneurial spirit of North Americans, but in places like Montreal, and Toronto, you have an attention to people. There is such a nice supporting characteristic about Canadians. There’s a nice balance between the best of North America and European taste. We have one third of the market for champagne in Canada, so we understand that this is a place where there is a real culture of luxury. Canadians are very educated about luxury, they appreciate good luxury brands with a deep heritage.
RL: Tell us about your plan to reach millennials?
JMG: We are looking for territories to expand into, and with targeting millennials, this is why we made the launch of RICH 100 per cent digital. We want people to know that mixology is in everything you taste now in most bars and restaurants, and it was important for champagne in general, especially a maison like Veuve Clicquot, to push boundaries. So reaching people in their 20s and 30s is important, but equally as important are the older generations. One of the challenges we have in champagne is that in too many countries it is still linked mostly to the idea of celebration, or special moment, like a graduation, New Year’s Eve, a wedding. We would like to make it more about experience, something that you have for yourself, not linked to anything else. This is very much the way we look at it in France. You are having dinner with a couple of friends, nothing really to celebrate, and you take the time to have a nice bottle of champagne.