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Driving brand growth through travel retail channel

We speak with François Plantecoste, Martell's business acceleration director, on the brand's aspirations for global travel retail and its strategy for engaging key target groups, including the Chinese

François Plantecoste Martell Mumm Perrier-Jouët

How does Martell leverage global travel retail as a global platform? 
We have an ambition to increase the growth and visibility of Martell, making it an even stronger Global House. We recognise travel retail as a key channel that will drive this development and have a strategy in place to ensure Martell continues developing its strong presence in 2017 and beyond. 
 
As an example of Martell’s confidence in the channel, we launched Martell Cordon Bleu Extra in September 2016 as a travel retail exclusive for one year. By doing so, we exposed the extraordinary new cognac to a diverse cross-section of global consumers as well as positioned it as a unique offering to the channel. Phasing our launch of Martell Cordon Bleu Extra to first be released in global travel retail allows us to gather insights from the channel’s global audience and use these to inform our launch activity into local domestic markets.
 
We partnered with Pernod Ricard Travel Retail Asia Pacific to create an immersive pop-up space to mark the launch of Martell Cordon Bleu Extra and further leverage the stream of global consumers in Travel Retail. The pop-up space captured the attention of travellers through multi-sensory tastings to educate on the tasting notes of the new cognac and convert this engagement to sales. Martell Cordon Bleu Extra features an especially generous portion of very old Borderies Cognac and the activation celebrated this by giving travellers engaging information on the region and access to a photo booth which transported users to its hilly, picturesque roads. The experience was further enhanced by a special personalised gift upon purchase of Martell Cordon Bleu Extra.
 
How is Martell performing in global travel retail? 
Martell is a strategic brand for Pernod Ricard and continues to perform strongly in travel retail globally. Based on IWSR 2015, Martell was among the top three international brands by value and the fastest growing brand at +26%. Martell has strong performance in all duty-free markets but is performing particularly well in Asia and Americas Travel Retail, where the brand’s luxury positioning, heritage and high quality is valued by international passengers.
 
With Asia Travel Retail being a key market for Martell, how did the brand perform over the Chinese New Year period?
Chinese travellers are indeed a key target group for Martell. The festive season including Chinese New Year was a period of strong performance for Martell, thanks to a line-up of initiatives including the launch of limited editions such as Martell Cordon Bleu Intense Heat, Martell Cordon Bleu Legendary Journeys, Martell VSOP and Noblige La French Touch, coupled with in-airport activity driving engagement and sales in Asia Travel Retail.
 
How do you adapt your strategy for Martell to better engage Asian customers in travel retail? 
We understand that the spending habits of some of our Asian passengers in travel retail are changing, mainly due to a rising Chinese affluent middle class who have a more conservative approach than HNWI to luxury. To ensure Martell is still a top choice for this new wave of consumers of luxury and luxury experiences, we adapt our product offering in Travel Retail but also create memorable activations that educate travellers on the unique qualities of our products and the heritage of the House of Martell.
 
One example of our adapted strategy is our recent launch of La French Touch by Martell x Cassius – a limited edition expression of Martell VSOP created in partnership with music duo Cassius. The bottle design is an electrifying mix of pulsating graphics and eye-popping colours which simultaneously excites and intrigues. To communicate the launch and the creative energy of La French Touch, Pernod Ricard Travel Retail EMEA partnered with Bowers & Wilkins to offer travellers at London Heathrow Airport Departure Terminal 3 the opportunity to enjoy a cognac and music pairing experience. Travellers were invited to tune into an exclusive playlist, trial specially created Martell VSOP cocktails and win instant prizes at a pop-up activation that celebrated the French art de vivre.
 
What digital initiatives are you adopting to engage with the Martell target audience?  
To support the launch of new Martell products in travel retail, we activate a digital strategy that leverages platforms that are popular with our target groups. We create specific digital content that is targeted to our various audience and launch campaigns at the right time and place to convert engagement into sales. For the launch of Martell Cordon Bleu Extra, for example, Pernod Ricard Travel Retail EMEA created a digital campaign in partnership with World Duty Free to leverage the retailers’ Weibo channel, a popular social platform for Chinese travellers, and publish content that drove traffic to its e-commerce store.

5 May 2017