MARKETING/DESIGN/CONSUMER TRENDS/INSPIRATIONS Cognac & Brandy News for Consumers & Industry Experts
Cyril Camus, the CEO of Cognac Camus, has much merit in having been a visionary when he moved to China in 1994. Already at this time China was promising but this was the hey day of cognac launch in China. Although nowadays cognac sales are still growing at a fast pace in China, much of the market is dominated by Martell and Hennessy which control over 50% of the market share. Cyril Camus lives now in China with his family, because it is the company’s biggest and fastest growing market for Camus. Camus is considered the 5 largest cognac company with about $80 million following Hennessy, Martell, Remy Martin, and Courvoisier with triple digits hundreds of millions and more.
Camus seems to have made a number of critical business decisions for the past 100 years which have ensured it would continue to strive.
1) Only 1 family ownership of shares. Father to son, not always the oldest son, just the most competent and motivated. Although cognac is glamourous it is not always very appealing to high-yeald investors because of the inherent limitations for growth due to the time necessary to grow the business and the overload of regulations coming with making cognac. A great deal of successful cognac family businesses have over extended the sharing of management. It is kind of like the European Union syndrome: 2 countries are OK, 10 countries is possible, 14 is max, 28 it is twice too much!
2) Focus only on super premium cognac. No mass marketing of Camus Cognac. Cognac is and should only be super premium. Cheap cognac does not make sense.
3) Adapt, pioneer and differentiate: it takes risk taking and vision to make ends meet.
—> 1900s: supplier of the Tsar.
—> 1960s: Duty Free and travel shopping.
—> 2000s: China and consumerism.
4) Be hands-on. Just do it attitude from the family’s management. Too many families who have succeed to grow their cognac business have kept the 3rd generations away from the vineyards and distilleries. These people quickly forgot where they were from and the hard working labor of love to keep the good things coming.
Camus owns several other brands of cognac (such as Pionneau) and brandy (such as Ascot). I am particularly interested in the Camus XO “Ile-de-Re” which is a very original product with unique terroir elements. I also like their “Maison Camus” concept started in 2010 in Beijing where they indulge their clients and members to taste the best liquors from France in a lounge club supported by Camus Cognac. Very Clever!