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Bacardi To Challenge Cognac Category With Ultra-Premium D’ussé

May 9, 2012

Bacardi USA CEO Robert Furniss-Roe and CMO Juan Rovira unveiled a new ultra-premium Cognac brand, D’ussé, at a private tasting for a few journalists last night in New York City. With the new entry, which rolls out in New York next month before reaching national distribution in September, Bacardi will vie to carve out a sizeable share in the U.S. Cognac category, where it’s previously been absent.

D’ussé, pronounced “dew-say,” is a VSOP Cognac that will retail at around $44.99 a 750-ml. bottle. It’s made by Chateau de Cognac, which also produces Bacardi’s Cognac Otard, a brand not marketed in the U.S.

Turning to the challenges of entering a Cognac sector dominated by the big four of Hennessy, Rémy Martin, Courvoisier and Martell, Furniss-Roe asserted that the category has grown “a bit dusty,” so there’s an opportunity for a new player—especially with Bacardi’s scale and reach—to attempt to redefine it for the younger set of spirits consumers. “We think we’re the company to do that,” he said.

Furniss-Roe told Shanken News Daily that XO and VS variants of D’ussé could eventually follow, but for now the focus is on introducing the VSOP offering as a versatile Cognac intended both for sipping and as a cocktail base. Bacardi believes the new brand can have cross-category appeal and entice consumers across the market’s demographic spectrum. “The notion of the Scotch drinker or the Bourbon drinker isn’t really relevant anymore,” Furniss-Roe said, because of newer generations’ penchant for experimenting with a variety of spirits categories.

Hennessy currently controls more than 60% of the 3.5-million-case U.S. Cognac market, with Rémy Martin following with a roughly 17% share. Both brands grew last year—Hennessy rose 1% while Rémy was up 6%—but neither has recaptured all the volume lost since 2007, when the economic downturn halted the luxury category’s upward progress.

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