The key to selling Bisquit will be in the serve

The key to selling Bisquit will be in the serve

Gruppo Campari has a strong track record in using key serving propositions to propel its spirits brands. Could this be a winning strategy for the soon-to-be acquired Bisquit Cognac? Lucy Britner examines the group's approach to key serves and looks at how it could apply to the Cognac brand. 

The recent performance of Gruppo Campari's Aperol has been phenomenal. In the first nine months of 2017, the brand saw sales leap by almost 20% to account for 14% of the group's total sales in the period.

Aperol's success is down to the relatively simple Aperol Spritz serve - consumers simply needed someone to explain to them how to drink it. 

Meanwhile, the Negroni cocktail - with just three ingredients, one of them Campari - is becoming more popular as the cocktail renaissance moves around the world. And, the slightly less boozy Americano cocktail - also starring Campari - is there to catch consumers who prefer something a little less strong.

The logic follows that if Campari can tap into a key serve for Bisquit, the brand might just sell itself.

There has been a revolution in the Cognac category recently; one that could play in Campari's favour, especially as the firm inevitably plans to sell Bisquit in Cognac's lucrative Chinese and US markets. Ever since the Chinese Government introduced anti-corruption measures, ending the gifting of high-end Cognacs, much of the innovation in the segment has moved to Cognacs that consumers are actually, well, consuming. 

Last year, Hine's international sales director Per Even Allaire told us "Cognac is now consumed more than what it was," in China. "The Cognac that gets depleted is more at the entry and medium level - VS, VSOP," he said. "The XOs-and-above - the more ostentatious Cognacs - are less asked for. These were the ones used as gifting."

Meanwhile in the US market, Pernod Ricard last year launched Martell Blue Swift, a VSOP-level Cognac finished in Kentucky Bourbon barrels. The launch followed the roll-out of a VS level Cognac called Single Distillery. The product, Pernod said, has been designed specifically to be used in mixed drinks.

Looking at Bisquit's portfolio -  VS Classique, VSOP, Prestige and XO, together with rare collections and limited editions - the range is comprehensive. But, in a note this morning, Bryan Garnier analyst Virginie Roumage said that circa -80% of Bisquit's sales come from its VS level Cognacs.

Perfect, then, for simple mixed drinks. 

Once the deal has closed - likely in Q1 2018 - we predict that Campari will be quick to announce a Bisquit expression for mixing. We can also likely expect a relatively simple serve, which will help consumers understand how best to consume Bisquit.