MARKETING/DESIGN/CONSUMER TRENDS/INSPIRATIONS Cognac & Brandy News for Consumers & Industry Experts
“The brand is very strong in Asia, something we can leverage in California,” said Camus (no relation, by the way, to the existentialist writer). The United States is the world’s largest cognac market, and “is moving significantly to higher price points. That justifies us coming in now,” with products priced primarily at $50 and above.
Cyril Camus, fifth-generation scion and president of France’s venerable Cognac Camus, said so in a San Francisco visit last week, as his family-owned firm takes aim at the Bay Area’s high-end cognac market.
With nearly two centuries behind it, the brandy maker and his forebears have had plenty of time to observe the interplay between sales of its product and the larger economy, and has divined an economic law of sorts.
You could call it the “cognac correlation.” Camus, 39, says that if cognac sales are increasing at more than 5 or 6 percent per year, it’s a sign of an economic bubble that’s about to burst. Examples include Japan in the late 1980s, and both in the U.S. and globally from 2004 to 2008, he said. In retrospect, he said, cognac sales zooming up by 8 percent or more in each case was an indication of trouble ahead. By that standard (not to mention others), we don’t need to worry about 2010 overheating: As of April, global cognac sales year-to-date had dipped 9 percent.
Camus ranks in the top five for cognac sales worldwide, but has never more than dipped a toe in the U.S. market. That’s about to change, and the Bay Area and California markets figure prominently in its American roll-out, with the state and region’s large Asian-American population a particular attraction.