Pernod Ricard has played down reports that it will be targeting higher income households in China.

In a report yesterday (29 May), French newspaper Le Monde said the drinks giant would look to target households in the country which have an annual income of US$5,000 or more. This sector of the population is expected to reach 10% by 2010, the paper noted, compared with 8% in 2005.

Speaking to just-drinks today (30 May), a spokesperson for Pernod said: "We're not doing anything special (to target particular households)."

The company confirmed, however, that it was following forecasted statistics that showed China and India as two of the best places to invest in as part of a long-term growth strategy.

The spokesperson continued: "In our industry, if you look long-term, China and India will be the two major engines of the world economy. The US will remain a very important market, but China will be the key for growth. This is due to the economic growth and the size of the country, combined with more people earning over-average incomes. Lots of Chinese people want to drink Chivas and Ballantine's in discoteques, so we are there with a strong distribution network and a full portfolio and our own sales force. More and more Chinese people have more money to spend and want access to international imported products and premium brands. We are simply seeing potential in this growing consumer demand."

The focus for investment follows Chivas Brothers launching its campaign to promote its entire Ballantine's Scotch Whisky range internationally.

The Pernod-owned company announced this month, that it is investing EUR40m (US$54m) in the global positioning of its Ballantine's range and aims to take the outright number two volume position in the world Scotch whisky league.