Today, Veuve Clicquot is the second highest selling champagne in the world. But things weren’t always so rosy (or should I say, rose?) for them, and if it weren’t for some key brand strategies, we would have never even known this brand existed.
Veuve Clicquot was founded in 1772 as a textile business, but the owner, Phillippe Clicquot, also dabbled in wine, basically just selling it as an afterthought to his textile clients. When his son, Francois took over the business in 1798, he decided to focus only on the wine business and was met with disapproval from his father, who felt it was not a profitable move for the company.
Brand Strategy #1: Have one clear message for only one market
Francois didn’t listen to his father and doubled down on the opportunity he saw in the wine market, particularly on a new type of wine called Champagne. He and his wife, Barbe-Nicole, worked together to learn everything they could about the champagne market. However, six years after their start, the brand was struggling and almost at the brink of collapse.
To make matters worse, Francois suddenly became ill and died, leaving Barbe-Nicole a widow (translated in French as veuve) and a struggling business. But she was just as feisty and resilient as her late husband, refusing to listen to Phillippe, who wanted to shut down the business. Instead, she bet everything on her instinct and their growing brand.
She told Phillippe, “I want to risk my inheritance and I’d like you to invest (today’s equivalent) of one million dollars for this business.” To which, he agreed.
Brand Strategy #2: You must have a strong purpose
She became a true student and spent all her time analyzing the markets, the competition, and potential opportunities for their small business. She found the Russian aristocrats were wine enthusiasts, particularly for sweet wines, and at the time, Veuve Clicquot was an extremely sweet champagne containing over 300 grams of sugar per bottle. This was unusual and something that easily separated her brand from the competition. She also made the bold decision to distinguish her bottles with (the now) classic mustard yellow label, something the exact opposite of what her competitors were doing.
Brand Strategy #3: Study the competitors to find key advantages
She knew she could corner the market, stand out, and sell, if only she could get her product into the hands of the Russians. She worked her magic despite the odds in her way and her efforts were successful. Tsar Alexander declared “This is the only wine I will drink”. Soon demand for her champagne boomed, almost exceeding her ability to fulfill orders and permanently cementing her brand status as a luxury brand unlike any others on the market.
Brand Strategy #4: Always keep improving and growing brand awareness
Barbe-Nicole not only was an amazing brand strategist, but she also cared deeply for the product development and research. During her time as CEO, she also developed new inventions to help produce better product quality, created new types of champagne (like rose!), and created an amazing team culture with her employees. By the time of her death, she had created a global empire, bringing champagne from the upper class markets to the middle class homes all across the world.
Had you heard the story of Veuve Clicquot? How can you apply her brilliant brand strategies to your business?
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