MBA Luxury Brand Management

MBA Luxury Brand Management
Class of 2016-2017

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Learning from the Experts: Managing a Wine and Spirit Brand

By Adolé Kabwasa, MBA in International Luxury Brand Management 2014-2015, Germany

They say that you’ll never forget your first time with Krug. And this might in fact be true. After meeting Krug’s current president and CEO Margareth Henriquez in T1, with whom most of the class experienced their first glass of Krug champagne, we had the privilege to participate in a two-day lecture with Rémi Krug, former president and CEO of the Maison and a descendant of Johann-Joseph Krug, who founded the iconic champagne brand in 1843. For sure this lecture will never be forgotten, since it was a unique experience and great fun.

Rémi Krug, the personification of  ‘French charm', is the perfect ambassador, whose passion for the craft and pride for this remarkable product remain undiminished after more than 40 years in the business.

In his first lecture, he gave us great insights into the wine business, its growing area, harvesting methods and bottling in general as well as the champagne business and the house of Krug. Rémi told us about the history of Krug and his family, the dream of the founder, as well as how the brand has evolved over time and overcome challenges faced during the various decades.

We learned that it’s not only enough to have an excellent product that sells, but one that also needs to be aware and ready for the future. The future might hold changes in markets, population and consumer behavior to which one has to react without hesitation or fear. As long as the brand knows its DNA and keeps true to its personality the future holds a lot of opportunities, if one is willing to take the risk.

Rémi showed us the development of Krug from the 60’s up until today and explained to us the marketing concepts that were fundamental for its positive growth. On the last day of his lecture he invited a guest speaker, who discussed the development and marketing stategies of a spirits brand. No one less than the president and CEO of Hennessy cognac, Bernard Peillon, spoke to us about the challenges and opportunities spirit brands have to face and how a brand like Hennessy has been able to stay on top of the market for the last 250 years.

One of the most exciting topics was the challenge of having totally different consumer groups and tasting moments for a single brand and how to handle such a paradox without overstretching the brand.

After two exciting days of lecture and inspiring personalities, the wines & spirits business gained some more fans in our class and many people are looking forward to an exciting field project within the industry. There are some rumors it could be a Krug project. Well, we’ll see, but I’ll keep my fingers crossed!