Courvoisier Toast of Paris

Maxxium has revealed how it plans to grow Courvoisier in the UK by increasing the appeal of the brand appeal to millennials.

The brand last month announced it was looking to cater to a wider range of occasions and encourage uptake of its more premium variants with its new global brand campaign, Toast of Paris. Inspired by the ‘Paris Golden Age’ of 1870-1910, which gave birth to most of the architecture, culture and cuisine that makes the city famous, the strategy will aim to associate the Cognac with celebration by promoting its use in cocktails.

The Beam Suntory-owned brand launched its campaign, Toast of Paris Since 1889, in the Eiffel Tower - echoing the opening of the landmark in 1889, when Courvoisier was served to guests.

Maxxium UK marketing controller Chris Anderson said the new positioning would have three main objectives in the UK: attracting younger consumers, promoting the versatility of the drink - especially its use in cocktails - and encouraging drinkers to trade up to more premium variants such as VSOP.

With 63% of UK Cognac consumers aged 45 and over, it was vital to make the brand relevant to millennials, Anderson said.

“There’s a need for the future lifeblood of the brand to appeal to that younger consumer, who have opted for other premium brown spirits - malt, bourbon - and even things like gin. We’re trying to move Cognac away from the traditional occasion, which is very much about after dinner or nightcap, to try and extend the usage occasions.

“If we believe we can steal even one of those occasions away from bourbon, malt or gin, then we have the opportunity of growing the category.”

A major part of the strategy for Courvoisier will be driving home its suitability for use in cocktails. To achieve this, the brand has devised a range of suggested serves, including classic and contemporary recipes. One of these, Midnight in Paris, is a long drink with Courvoisier VSOP, ginger ale, bitters and a slice of orange.

“It’s really important for us to break down the myths of Cognac not being easily mixable, said Anderson. “But in order to open it up to this broader audience, we have to make it easy to drink in terms of signature serves. The Midnight in Paris is really about creating a refreshing drink which is up against things like the gin and tonic. That also translates through to the off-trade, because we recognise that people need to be able to replicate these drinks at home with confidence.”

As well as an extensive on-trade programme, Maxxium will promote the cocktails through social media and supermarket magazine and websites. This, Maxxium hopes, will drive sales of VSOP, which retails for £4 to £5 more than the entry-level VS. Courvoisier is the UK’s leading Cognac, with sales of £57m [Nielsen 52 w/e 25 April 2015], but VS currently makes up almost 90% of its off-trade sales. This stands in contrast to many other markets, where VSOP is the bestselling variant.

A version of the brand’s new global advert will show in cinemas from December.