Business Today

"Luxury is experiences money cannot buy"

Alexandre Ricard, Chairman and CEO, Pernod Ricard, talks to Anilesh S. Mahajan about the art of wooing consumers with high expectations.
Anilesh S. Mahajan        Print Edition: September 25, 2016
Alexandre Ricard, Chairman and CEO, Pernod Ricard

Talking of the luxury market globally, which way is the wind blowing?

It is about going beyond just the brand itself and taking experiences into account - brand experience, service and personalisation. Luxury is experiences money cannot buy. When we have high net worth clients come to France, we let them have one-on-one discussions with our masters (depending on whether it's whisky, champagne or cognac) and taste some blends. These are experiences money cannot buy. The very high end of the luxury market is going in for customisations.

How do you market your spirits to high net worth individuals (HNIs)?

At the end of the day, it is about relationship building. We do have a customer relationship management programme at the database centre (Paris). Personal contacts, meeting new people and handshakes...that's the way to go. We have our network in key markets and we focus on specific brands. For instance, there is a very specific global community of Polo players; it's a very high-end sport. We leverage the sport to get in touch with HNIs for the Royal Salute brand. We use golf and, in some cases, Formula 1 races, too. It is less specific to the product and more to the product's universe, and the brand experience. Selling a bottle of Absolut requires a different skill set than when selling a bottle of Martell Premier Voyage at 10,000 euros a bottle.

Are Indian aspirations different from those of the West?

They all are part of the global HNI community. They go to the same hotels and same cities around the world - on the beaches of Miami, Hong Kong, Bali, and so on. It is a global community, very high-end, that has very high expectations from an experiential and service point of view.

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