07 July, 2001

Champagnes Chinese dream

In Champagne the biggest houses have begun to orientate themselves even more towards the Chinese market.

Pernod-Ricard said some time ago, that the objective of the group is to move upwards from its current place as number three to a number two in the top 10 of top sellers. That is in money, not bottles, it is not difficult to sell cheap champagne. It seems that the conquering of the Chinese market is what is expected to come up with the necessary extra sales to fulfill the dream.

Recently Mumm, that with Perrier-Jouët is among the big, old houses in the Pernod-Ricard portfolio, welcomed almost 350 newly hired Chinese sellers, whose task it is to teach their fellow Chinese to drink champagne. The number of bottles sold during these last years tell the story of a market with an exponential growth.

  • 1999: 16.000 bottles
  • 2002: 27.891 bottles
  • 2003: 74.549 bottles
  • 2004: 269.147 bottles
  • 2005: 335.962 bottles

    Numbers: Comité Interprofessionnel du Vin de la Champagne.
Two issues will be important, says consultant Nathalie Viet according to the newspaper l'Union. One is to make the Chinese palates accustomed to the acidity of champagne, where so far beer has been more common. The other one to create a connection - sort of a natural association - between champagne and local rituals or customs. That is to make champagne a must-have and must-drink at for instance weddings.

Guided tours in mandarin at Moët's
Today the biggest group in Champagne - Möet & Chandon - dispatches one out of two bottles sold in China. The company also has longer traditions in China than anybody else, since they sold the first bottle of champagne in China ever back in 1874.

Moët & Chandon has 150 employees in China. They create events, educates sommeliers and makes sure that the bottles of the house - on top of Moët & Chandon it includes Veuve Clicquot, Dom Pérignon and Krug - are to be found the right places. That is places, where you find the people that everybody else, who can afford it, wants to copy.

The Épernay-based company at the moment welcomes about 3.000 Chinese every year, says l'Union. They are treated with guided tours in the caves of the house in mandarin. Impressive to follow how the big houses step by step move forward in their efforts to open the traditionally difficult Chinese market - much courted and fabled it has always been, I suppose, in it's capacity of being so huge...

I just wonder if the smart hostesses of Moët manage better in mandarin than they did in English when I payed a visit, however 12 years ago. I did not understand a word of what they said. I suppose things are all different having crossed the line into the new Millenium, where lots of French talk about how important it is that their children learn the languages they never mastered themselves.

På dansk

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