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Cognac’s Surge Continues, With Hennessy Leading The Charge

December 14, 2020

Cognac continues to be one of the hottest areas of the drinks market, with Impact Databank projecting the category to approach the 7-million-case mark in the U.S. this year. While Covid-19 has drastically reduced on-premise consumption, the category continues to boom in the off-premise, with the top-ranked Hennessy brand leading a field of fast-rising upscale labels.

Altogether, Hennessy comprises about 61% of total Cognac volume in the U.S., and it has shown remarkable resilience throughout the year, particularly with its VS label, says Moët Hennessy USA senior vice president Giles Woodyer. Simple at-home serves, such as Hennessy and Coke and Hennessy and Pineapple, have benefited the brand throughout the pandemic. Hennessy continues to soar in control states, where its volume jumped 40% in the year-to-date through October. Overall, Impact Databank projects the brand to top 4 million cases stateside for the first time this year.

Second-ranked Rémy Martin, part of the Rémy Cointreau portfolio, has also transitioned its focus to the off-premise, where the company saw “strong growth in at-home consumption” and “benefited from buoyant demand, in a favorable context of move upmarket,” in its fiscal first half ended in September. Rémy Martin is now within striking distance of the 1-million-case mark in the U.S., up from 650,000 cases in 2014.

No.-3 Cognac label Courvoisier, owned by Beam Suntory, has managed to stay on track amid the pandemic, and attract more consumers in the off-premise market. “While this has certainly been a challenging time for our on-premise partners, our consumers have more than made up for that by purchasing in the off-premise,” says Courvoisier managing director Jon Potter.

D’Ussé has also leveraged at-home cocktail consumption in recent months, enabling it to maintain its rapid upward momentum. “One way we’ve stayed connected virtually is by ramping up our social presence to focus on educating about at-home mixability and increasing brand awareness,” says Jennifer Pisciotta, vice president of global marketing for Bacardi, D’Ussé’s brand owner. According to Pisciotta, momentum has actually increased for the brand this year, following a 2019 performance in which it depleted 372,000 cases.

Pernod Ricard-owned Martell has long been the top imported spirits brand in China, and more recently has amped up its focus on the U.S. Over the past three years it has more than doubled in size to 233,000 cases, with growth boosted by its Blue Swift expression, which is finished in Bourbon casks and retails around the $50 mark. Blue Swift was up 31% to 132,000 cases in the U.S. last year, earning Impact “Hot Prospect” honors.—Julia Higgins

Top 6 Cognac Brands in Control States
(thousands of 9-liter case depletions)
Rank Brand Company Ten Months Ending October
2019
Ten Months Ending October
2020
Percent
Change1
1 Hennessy Moët Hennessy USA 696 973 39.8%
2 Rémy Martin Rémy Cointreau USA 152 251 64.8%
3 Courvoisier Beam Suntory Inc 100 120 19.2%
4 D’ussé Bacardi USA Inc 36 66 80.3%
5 Salignac Beam Suntory Inc 40 41 4.4%
6 Martell Pernod Ricard USA 20 25 21.5%
Total Top Six2 1,045 1,475 41.2%
Other Brands 23 30 29.4%
Total Cognac 1,068 1,505 40.9%
1 Based on unrounded data.
2 Addition of columns may not agree due to rounding.

Source: NABCA and IMPACT DATABANK © 2020

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