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Top Cava Brands Tap Into US Consumer Price Sensitivity

June 8, 2011

Champagne may have ridden a roller coaster in the U.S. market over the past few years, but its lower-profile counterpart, Cava, has enjoyed stronger and more consistent growth. Even after a solid performance in 2010, U.S. Champagne depletions were still more than 20% down from 2007, according to Impact Databank. Cava, meanwhile, has actually gained ground during the economic downturn.

“The downturn has helped us. Our main customer has, for the most part, stayed with our brand because the pricing is still competitive at well under $10 retail per bottle,” says Vince Friend, president of CIV USA, which imports Cristalino, the market’s second-leading (and fastest-growing) Cava brand. “A lot of consumers who no longer had the budget to buy higher-priced sparklers began buying Cristalino.”

Cava’s three biggest brands—Freixenet, Cristalino and Segura Viudas—collectively sold roughly 1.05 million cases in the U.S. market in 2007. By 2010, the three brands’ aggregate volume had jumped by 12%, to more than 1.17 million cases. That impressive progress has pushed Cava’s total U.S. volume (estimated at around 1.3 million cases) past Champagne’s, which was at 1.25 million cases last year.

Freixenet USA dominates Cava in the U.S. market, with flagship brand Freixenet and fast-rising Segura Viudas comprising around 60% of category sales. The company is now aggressively courting new consumers for the Freixenet brand, which has been the longtime market leader but hasn’t kept pace with other top sellers of late. “My top objective with Freixenet is to build more of an emotional link with consumers through face-to-face interactions and to focus on the younger demographic,” says Tom Burnet, president of Freixenet USA. “We’ve put the necessary pieces in place, and we’re deep in the process of implementing a slew of new consumer-facing programs targeted at trendsetters.”

With positive growth trends, the economy’s ongoing challenges and a flurry of new product activity, Cava should see sustained growth ahead. Its leading marketers certainly have ambitious goals. “We expect Cava sales to grow to over 2 million cases within three years, with Cristalino surpassing the 1-million-case mark in that period,” says Friend. “To help accomplish that, we’re planning more direct-to-consumer marketing and aggressive promotional activity in all channels.”

US – Leading Cava Brands
(thousands of nine-liter case depletions)
Brand Importer 2007 2008 2009 2010 Percent
Freixenet Freixenet USA 635 633 574 545 -5.0%
Jaume Serra Cristalino CIV USA 259 286 355 410 15.5%
Segura Viudas Freixenet USA 152 170 197 217 9.7%
Total Top Three 1,046 1,089 1,126 1,172 4.0%
*based on unrounded data 


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