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Interview: Stéphane Baschiera, President And CEO, Moët & Chandon

September 10, 2013

Sold in more than 160 countries, Moët Hennessy’s Moët & Chandon is the number-one Champagne brand both in the U.S. and worldwide. Last year, Moët & Chandon was down 7.3% in the U.S. market to 380,000 cases (excluding Dom Perignon), according to Impact Databank, but in 2013—the year of its 270th anniversary—it has seen an increase in marketing activity, including new ads with tennis icon Roger Federer launching this fall. SND assistant editor Brecken Branstrator met recently with Moët & Chandon president and CEO Stéphane Baschiera to discuss progress for the brand and the category.

SND: Globally, Moët & Chandon was down 2% to 2.7 million cases last year. Besides the U.S., which markets are your focus?

Baschiera: Asia, Russia and Latin America are all providing growth. In China, where business is booming, we’re convincing sommeliers and chefs in Shanghai and Beijing that Moët & Chandon is a good match with Chinese cuisine. In Latin America, particularly Brazil and Mexico, we’ve also invested heavily and are pleased with the results. Adverse conditions remain in the European markets of France, Spain and Italy, but Germany and Switzerland are both doing well.

SND: How is the pricing environment for Champagne at the moment?

Baschiera: My business is very much about trying to source the best quality grapes, and I know that we must pay for that. We will continue to pass price increases if needed. As of today, Champagne’s 2013 harvest looks very good in both quality in quantity (the French government is forecasting a 56% increase to about 34 million cases). We expect to begin harvesting in the last week of September—very late compared with some vintages of recent years. Two years ago we started in the middle of August.

SND: How would you assess Moët & Chandon’s U.S. performance this year?

Baschiera: A lot will depend on the fourth quarter, which accounts for one-third to one-half of annual Champagne sales. But it’s so far, so good. We still have plenty of room for growth in the U.S. New York, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas and Miami will be our main priorities for at least the next two years, although we also see opportunities elsewhere. With our new ad campaign and U.S. consumers being increasingly passionate about wine, we’re well-positioned to succeed.

SND: What’s the focus of that new advertising push?

Baschiera: On one side, Moët & Chandon is about glamor, which we explored with Scarlett Johansson as our global brand ambassador the last four years. But Moët & Chandon is also about celebrating success with style, elegance, boldness and generosity, and that’s why we chose Roger Federer for the brand ambassador role. This year we’re celebrating our 270th anniversary, and we’ll be debuting new ads with Roger in mid-October in the U.S. market.

SND: Any new products in the pipeline?

Baschiera: We have a nice range with Moët Impérial, Moët Impérial Rosé, Nectar Impérial, Nectar Impérial Rosé, Ice Impérial—a newer Champagne meant to be served over ice, which is doing extremely well—and the vintages. So I don’t see why I should add anything, at least not within the foreseeable future. Moët Impérial and Moët Impérial Rosé have been performing best. Rosé is now very successful worldwide, thanks mainly to female consumers.

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