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Impact Seminar Snapshot: Alexandre Ricard Examines Emerging Market Evolution

March 29, 2012

Alexandre Ricard, managing director of the Pernod Ricard Distribution Network, was the opening speaker at last week’s Impact Marketing Seminar. Speaking on the topic “East vs. West: Drinking Trends of Different Cultures,” Ricard broke the subject down by distinguishing international spirits popular in the West—such as vodka, whisk(e)y, Tequila, rum, gin, Cognac and liqueurs—from traditional spirits, such as baijiu in China, soju in Korea, sake in Japan and cachaça in Brazil.

“Both segments are of similar value today,” Ricard said, “but international spirits are growing significantly faster, driven by the U.S. market.” And even in countries like China, where baijiu dominates, international spirits are making inroads. Emerging markets now account for one-third of international spirits’ annual growth, Ricard said.

Ricard went on to demonstrate how cross-cultural exchanges—such as those created by Parisian diplomacy in the 1700s and British colonialism in the 1800s—expanded formerly traditional spirits like Cognac and Scotch out of their countries of origin and transformed them into global categories. With the U.S. now reigning as the preeminent cultural exporter across the globe, Ricard suggested that its preference for vodka could well cross over into China and other emerging markets. Pernod Ricard figures to be at the forefront of that effort with its Absolut brand, which already has a small but growing presence in China. The company expects to generate revenue of more than €1 billion ($1.3b) in China for the first time this fiscal year (ending in June), with a 48% share of the country’s imported spirits market. Martell Cognac is now its top seller in the country, and recently became the first spirits import to sell over 1 million cases in China annually.

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