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Martell's vineyard in Cognac, France. Photos provided to China Daily
"ABSOLUT UNIQUE" comprises of 4 million uniquely designed bottles.
France's Pernod Ricard SA, the world's second-largest wine and spirits maker, aims to raise the proportion of its premium products sold in China to 50 percent of the market by 2015, according to the company.
Since the acquisition of Seagram in 2002, Pernod Ricard's Asia sales have increased sevenfold, with profits exceeding 1 billion euros ($1.3 billion) last year.
The group's China market, its second-largest market, has grown 27 times in net sales since 2002 while profits increased by 50 times.
Despite the current economic slowdown, the group views China as a vital market to its future growth.
"We do believe that China is positioned to weather recent challenges and deliver sustainable growth," said Horace Ngai, deputy managing director of Pernod Ricard China, at the company's Capital Market Day recently held in Beijing.
With a strong foundation in China, Pernod Ricard enjoys a high position with products of renowned brands such as Scotch whisky Chivas Regal, Royal Solute, Cognac Martell and ABSOLUT Vodka.
The company also has the most comprehensive geographic footprint, reaching out to 423 cities in China through seven top wholesalers and 340 second-level wholesalers.
The market leadership has not held back its ambition to achieve further success.
The company said it now aims to provide more products to local consumers.
"In addition to our strong leadership in cognac and whisky, we are making strategic efforts in other promising categories, such as wine, champagne and vodka," Ngai said.
In the wine segment, Jacob's Creek has gained triple-digit growth in China in the past few years and has still maintained a robust growth, he said.
Helan Mountain, Pernod Ricard's only Chinese wine brand, is also one of its highly promising brands in the market.
The vineyard of Helan Mountain is located on the similar latitude with that of France, said Ngai.
"The brand is catching up quickly with foreign top wines in China."
ABSOLUT Vodka -the brand famous for its creative marketing campaigns-has developed rapidly in China as well, he added.
China has been a fast growing market for Pernod Ricard's champagne products with shipments reaching two million bottles last year.
He said that the champagne market still has a huge potential with the rise of China's middle-class consumers who prefer Western luxury goods. "It grows at double-digit rate here."
Given the bigger consumption in the Chinese market, Jacob's Creek has performed very well in large cities but not yet fully entered small and medium-sized cities, Ngai added.
On the other hand, Pernod Ricard has adapted quickly to meet the diverse demands of its Chinese consumers.
"We have witnessed the change in China market in recent years," said Ngai, a veteran in the industry for more than 20 years.
"Those include the growing number of affluent people, unique needs of female consumers and the flourishing of e-commerce."
Pernod Ricard has been an innovative leader in addressing the demands of local consumers, he said.
For example, with its ultra prestige products, it plans to target the country's "super-rich" individuals who are with current assets exceeding 10 million yuan.
The products include brands including Royal Salute, Martell, and Perrier-Jouet.
The company also offers a special team to serve its VIP customers.
"Our service is not merely selling wine and spirits but to provide the whole set of luxury experiences," Ngai said.
It also has expanded its business in urban areas through home parties or family KTVs.
With the improving income and social environment in the country, Ngai said it is important to become "the drink of the party" as an increasing number of Chinese consumers are inviting friends to their homes.
Attracting female consumers through mixed drink solutions and wine are also new territory for Pernod Ricard to explore in China, such as with Kahlua, the world's top coffee liqueur and one of the company's strategic brands.
Ngai said image and taste are essential to promoting such drinks among female consumers. But spirits and wine for women are easier to promote at places they usually visit such as salon and spa locales.
Booming e-commerce also helps to unlock new consumption potential.
Official statistics show that the number of mobile phone users in China is expected to climb to more than 500 million by 2015 as online sales reach 2.6 trillion yuan.
"We will also add new sales channels such as social media and e-commerce," Ngai said.
In November 2011, Pernod Ricard China launched a flagship store on Tmall, the popular online shopping portal in China.
"Products sold online will remain at the same price as those at other distribution channels but may have distinct packaging or limited editions to attract consumers," Ngai said.
The flagship store has become the No 1 spirits brand at Tmall, the company said.
Pernod Ricard doubled its e-commerce sales in China over the same period last year.
And the figure is four times bigger than in 2011, which is equivalent to sales volumes in a small city.
(China Daily 06/07/2013 page15)