With so many shifts in the beverage industry, it can be difficult for many companies to stay relevant. Marie Brizard is a French company that in the past year went through a major rebranding initiative, while also trying to maintain its established reputation in many markets, including the U.S.
I recently spoke to Nicolas Guillant, President of Marie Brizard, about category trends, unique products and what’s next for this company.
BD: Tell us about the rebranding process you underwent last year, changing the name of the company from Belvedere Group to Marie Brizard Wine and Spirits.
NG: The history of this company has been a bit rocky, and the change of name was a signal to the market and our employees that this is a fresh new company. We chose a name that’s the most recognizable of all our brands, which has a lot of positive perception associated with it. Marie Brizard is a brand that epitomizes our values of innovation and creativity. It’s also the name of the company founder, a woman who created an iconic liquor back in a time when women couldn’t even sign checks. We’re currently a continuation of all the great work we’ve done over so many years.
BD: What consumer trends are currently impacting the imported vodka category?
NG: Consumers have a hard time navigating the vodka category. When they think of craft and innovation, they tend to think about vodka in terms of commodity and not a lot about history. Our job as a company is to communicate that vodkas have history and can be finely crafted. Our Sobieski vodka is made of rye, which gives it a very unique taste. We’re trying to educate people about that and communicate that ingredients are a primary factor when choosing a vodka brand.
BD: How has the wine category changed since the launch of your Fruits and Wine brand in 2010?
NG: When you think about the innovation here, realize that we did something very daring by launching this product in a country where wine is a religion. We acknowledged early on that Millennials are drinking their wine differently: they’re mixing it. We recognized that difference when we launched Fruits and Wine, and consumer response was immediate and positive. In a space of five years we have created a whole new category that is still trending. It’s also trending in the U.S., which is why we are launching Fruits and Wine here. Consumers are looking for another type of wine. Most other companies have competing products that are not based on real wines like ours are, which is the defining factor.
BD: What programs are you working on to reach off-premise retailers and consumers?
NG: When you look at the market today, the key is making sure our product is available where and when the customers want it. We’re putting a lot of effort into working directly with retailers to help them come up with solutions that are in line with the goals of their business. Our philosophy is that everyone needs to win in order to be successful: the customer, the retailer and us. Just by working with retailers more closely, we’ve been able to drive additional growth in those outlets.
BD: What’s next for the company?
NG: We’re continuing to focus on our core portfolio. We see potential growth with our Sobieski brand, and we’re launching Fruits and Wines across the U.S. this summer. Our William Peel Scotch whisky brand is huge but is unknown to Americans, so we see a possibility for growth there as well. In early 2017, we plan to relaunch the Marie Brizard brand with new packaging to continue building upon the success of this key product. bd
Melissa Niksic is a freelance writer and marketing communications strategist from Chicago, IL. Her work has appeared in Chicago’s Daily Herald newspaper, Time Out Chicago, Suburban Life newspapers, and various magazines. She is also the author of several children’s books. Follow her @MelissaNiksic.