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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Neil Beckett

Krug has charged its new English MD, Mark Cornell, with the tricky task of broadening the appeal of the Champagne brand without detracting from its prestigious reputation. While it's a dilemma facing all marketeers of luxury brands, the greater the lustre, the trickier it is. And they don't come more illustrious than Krug. The scale of the challenge is clear from Anthony Rose's recent characterisation of Krug drinkers as the exclusive Lear jet set' In a conversation conspicuously free of Krugist' or multi-vintage', Cornell told Harpers: Krug has created its cult status by winning over wine lovers. But that's problematic if you're trying to build the business: one, by definition, no real wine lover is loyal, and two, there's the assumption that all wine lovers are rich. We need to find people who aren't Champagne or wine experts.' Asked if Krug's price (RRP 70 for the NV Grande Cuve) was a deterrent, he replied: It's no more expensive than it was 20 years ago. And it's not a lot to pay for a really good Champagne. The real problem isn't the price, it's the demand.' Explaining how he hopes to stimulate demand, he said: We mustn't forget the DNA of the brand - all that made it what it is. But by applying more codes, we can express the DNA in ways that will make it more relevant than it is today.' He identified the Krug family, authenticity, quality and individuality as key components. It's not only what we're going to do, but how we're going to do it. It won't be sponsorship of a large sporting event - that couldn't be further from Krug. It doesn't need to be big or flash, but must have its own particular style.' One idea already being implemented is a Krug Room at The Dorchester Hotel in London. Krug is served in many of the best hotels and restaurants, of course. But what we're trying to do is provide a Krug institution, for people to experience the brand outside France but in the way we want them to experience it. It will be different, interesting, very discreet, very private, but informal.' Cornell hopes to establish similar venues in New York and Tokyo. To raise Krug's profile, the brand will advertise more, with a different emphasis. We're trying to get out of the "grand vin de Champagne" idea [used previously as a strapline], which is the wrong way round. Krug is a great Champagne in the world of wine, not a great wine in the world of Champagne.'