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Own-label Champagne sales lose their fizz says Lanson research

Published:  30 May, 2014

Retailer and own-label Champagne brands have plummeted 16% by value according to the latest category report from Champagne house Lanson.

Overall off-trade Champagne sales fell 3% by volume, while value held steady.

Perhaps accounting for some of this shift, Prosecco rocketed by 54.6% by value in the same period, with retailer and own-label brands growing by 90%, suggesting that retailers have moved their focus away from own-label Champagne and towards Italian bubbles.

Branded Champagnes, however, are performing well, with key brands showing growth of 8.6%, while softer brands have grown 16%.

Paul Beavis, managing director of Lanson International, said education needs to be stronger to help consumers move up the category. In a list of recommendations, Beavis suggests retailers "need to build discernment" into the category and more clearly differentiate by price, stories and brands between sparkling wine as a whole and Champagne.

"You could argue the positive side that bubbles are doing well, there are positives to take from that," Beavis told Harpers. "People are trading into the sparkling category, but when it's sub-divided it shows strengths and weaknesses."

"From a Champagne house perspective it's essential to talk about our taste message, which is something consumers are picking up on," he said. The aim is to have consumers talking more about "what's inside the bottle and less about lifestyle positioning".

"More informal occasions are becoming really important, whether at home or in the on-trade. Champagne has been the drink of choice for formal celebrations, now it's stepping into the zone of a night in with friends.

"Prosecco's done a really good job of bringing people into the category at a certain price point and taste profile. There was a reason we launched Lanson White Label. There is a younger audience coming into bubbles through Prosecco, and the taste profile has changed."

But Beavis was clear that Champagne should not look to move out of the luxury category altogether. "It's there thanks to its price point - which it deserves. We've got to push across our stories and messages as to why it's worth it."

Lanson said getting the message out there was a "long-term plan". "It's around an education piece, you can't use a sledgehammer to crack a nut. You've got to do advertising, tasting and use online - we also have our Little Black Book - we send out 110,000 of those. You've got to create that message and be consistent with it."

Lanson's report uses CGA and Nielsen data as well as collating insights into consumer behaviour from 2,000 respondents to a Futuresight panel.