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Champagne bosses need to engage consumers

Published:  21 March, 2012

Gimmicky innovations are not the way forward for Champagne, but it's got to try and engage with consumers, say Champagne bosses.

Lanson International launched its inaugural Champagne category report last week, which showed that while consumers are still spending on Champagne, Italian sparkling is booming with 48% growth, while Chilean and English offers are up 26% each.

Beavis said: "The UK consumer is looking for new things - younger consumers are looking for sweeter styles." With this in mind, Lanson is planning to launch a new product, which taps into the trend for sweeter styles, this summer. "It will be built on authenticity," added Beavis.

Cécile Bonnefond, the chief executive of EPI which owns Charles and Piper-Heidsieck, said: "The liquid is the most important thing," for Champagne, along with creating an image of glamour.

EPI's strategy for 2012 will revolve around "getting the wine back into everyone's hands and getting it recognised", with its new Wine Excellence Programme encouraging the trade to communicate to consumers the brands' "luxurious side".

Champagne Information Bureau

In total, global Champagne shipments hit 323 million bottles in 2011 - up from 319.5 million in 2010.

But in the UK - Champagne's number one export market - total volume shipments dropped 2.7% compared to the previous year.

Andrew Hawes, chairman of the UK Champagne Agents' Association, said the "slight fall" was not a cause of concern for the Champenois, adding that there was a "long and strong relationship between the UK and Champagne".

Outside of Europe, the Champagne Information Bureau claimed to be having increasing success in getting the term 'Champagne' recognised as a geographical indication.

Producers in the US and Russia are showing greatest resistance, according to Bruno Paillard, chairman of the Comité Champagne, with both countries using it as a generic term.