Ah, December 31st.  Each year, the ball drops in Times Square, and people count down excitedly from ten as they plan their resolutions for the New Year, and clink champagne flutes to toast to the year ahead.  New Year’s Eve is all about glitz and glamour, from the sparkle of the Times Square crystal ball to the abundance of black tie affairs.  New Year’s Eve is the top and the most festive of holiday celebrations.  The holiday has become synonymous with a certain alcoholic beverage in particular: champagne.  Bubbly is the drink of choice for party-goers.  And leading up to this night, champagne brands are busy marketing to have their corks popped most on New Year’s Eve.

The Way I See It

  • I see champagne advertisers reflect the mood of the audience to ensure that its presentation is true to both the holiday and how consumers feel based on the economy and current events.
  • I see brands continue to focus on fun and romance. The holiday is synonymous with romance – kissing at the stroke of Midnight, planning a proposal for the big night, or even a New Year’s Eve wedding.
  • I see champagne marketers continue the shift towards advertising in digital and social in new and unique ways.
  • I see champagne brands continue to increase sales and market penetration beyond simply the traditional buyers and holidays.

The Way the Industry Sees It

I sat down with Jon Potter, Executive Vice President of Brands at Moët Hennessy USA, to discuss marketing around New Year’s and effective campaigns for the champagne market.

There’s no question that champagne is the drink of New Year’s Eve. But how did it become that way?  What role does marketing and advertising play in terms of ensuring champagne “owns” the holiday? How do you continue to make champagne relevant for each new generation?

For as long as people have been socializing together, having fun and enjoying each other’s company, champagne has been present.  And what other night of the year embodies that better than New Year’s Eve, when friends and family join together to toast the past and look ahead to the future.  Champagne is the quintessential drink to mark occasions big or small.  As Napoleon is quoted as saying, “Champagne – in victory you deserve it; in defeat you need it.”  Today, consumers have more choice than ever when it comes to champagne, wine and spirits so marketing plays an important role in keeping champagne top of mind and relevant for consumers whether that is through limited edition packaging, special events or unique partnerships.

With champagne typically viewed as a luxury good, how do champagne brands remain competitive in a tough economic environment? Did the economic downturn have an impact on champagne sales in recent years?

The recent economic downturn was challenging for many sectors of the luxury market.  However, we are fortunate that the Moët Hennessy portfolio of champagnes is second to none.  Our champagne houses have incredible heritage and an uncompromising focus on quality that consumers know and trust.  This is important in times of uncertainty when consumers are more cautious and less likely to try an unknown brand.

Beyond New Year’s and special occasions, how do champagne brands continue to market to consumers year-round?  How important are special events and sponsorships to champagne brands?

Champagne is appropriate for all kinds of occasions!  For champagne, it’s important to stay top of mind with the consumer throughout the year.  Whether that is through seasonal packaging, limited edition offers or special events and partnerships, we look to engage with consumers all year long.  Moët & Chandon is the official champagne of the Golden Globes, the Kentucky Derby, the America’s Cup and the Ryder Cup.  This year, Dom Perignon launched a limited edition label and gift box designed by David Lynch, and Veuve Clicquot again hosted the most stylish kick-off to the summer season — the Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic in New York.

This past year, Moët launched three apps associated with three different brands.  The Moët & Chandon Brut Impérial app adds a gold tint to photos – capturing the color of the champagne – and gives users the chance to add glitter and personalize photos.  How important today are mobile and online platforms for champagne brands?  What is the future marketing and advertising platform for champagne?

Digital is an increasingly important marketing and communication tool.  It’s part of the overall marketing mix for champagnes, because it is where our consumers are actively engaging with and learning about brands.  Each of our brands takes a different approach to the medium based on their specific strategic objectives and communication goals.

What is the coolest object in your office right now?

I have a Veuve Clicquot Ponsardine gift box here in my office right now, but it won’t be here for long!  I’m looking forward to giving it to my wife for the holidays since it’s her favorite champagne.