Pierre-Louis Araud is the Global Brand Ambassador for Moët & Chandon, and a connoisseur of luxury and celebration. In his second official trip to Nigeria last week, he talks about the brand’s efforts at deepening its presence in the Nigerian market through new product offerings and what makes Nigeria a destination for such a luxury drink. In this interview with FEMI ADEKOYA, he says Moët & Chandon has been a pioneer and an innovator in the art of celebration, a reality he describes as, resonating with Nigerians’ passion for celebrations.
What brings you to Nigeria at this moment? Is this your first visit?
I am to here to share the magic of Moët & Chandon with Nigerian people. I am not sure they need me to enjoy their wine because Moët & Chandon is very hot in Nigeria, and that makes it easier to share the values of Moët & Chandon, and to explain the story behind this company.
I also learnt Moët & Chandon is coming with new products into the market. Can you tell us about the product?
Moët & Chandon is in Nigeria with a range of products of MOËT IMPÉRIAL, MOËT Nectar Rose IMPÉRIAL, and MOËT NECTAR IMPÉRIAL, which are working very well. We noticed the demand for the high end products and top range products; hence these are the reasons why we chose to propose them as well the new comer in our range of products that we call MCIII. MC stands for Moët & Chandon, while the Roman numeral III reflects the three centuries that span this maison’s existence; it actually symbolises three different techniques, or as the company refers to them, “stratums”—of this wine’s creation. MCIII is the result of aging and combining a number of Moët’s best Grand Vintage wines into what results in an ultra-luxurious, non-vintage Champagne. The maturation of these various vintages has been divided into a trilogy of aging vessels encompassing wood, glass, and metal. This innovative process took Moët’s Chef de Cave Benoît Gouez and his team of winemakers more than 20 years to perfect.
The quintessence of richly diverse forms of wine maturation, MCIII is an assemblage of fine vintage wines aged in stainless steel vats and oak casks combined with more mature vintage champagne aged on lees in glass bottles.
It is champagne that enjoyed a net return in the space of three months. It is cutting-edge champagne and as Nigeria being the most important market for us here in Africa, we really want to be there.
What do you think might be responsible for the huge sales of the drink in the market despite being a luxury product?
I think in Nigeria, you have people who love to enjoy life. We love to party, we love to stay bright and Moët & Chandon is the ultimate brand for celebrations. The drink is at the heart of all the celebrations in life. It goes beyond a spray of champagne. We see that Nigerian people are successful and the drink resonates with them. Moët & Chandon is a product of success and glamour. Either during the day or at night you will see that Nigerians like to party and enjoy life. Nigeria is really a market for our products.
Why the interest in just three markets in Africa – Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa?
Our interest is not limited to just three markets. For instance, just before coming to Nigeria, I was in Abidjan, where I spent a few days but it is also important that we go to our main markets in Africa. There’s a whole lot of deep interest in African market.
Beyond sports celebrations where the effervescence of the champagne is felt. Are you exploring other areas where your products can actually be also experienced?
Beyond parties, we have weddings. Weddings are big in Nigeria. There is also a business of having Moët & Chandon for lunch or dinner, for people who appreciate it. Moët & Chandon is champagne; it means it is not just sparkling wine. There is a big difference between champagne and sparkling wine, as it is very exclusive and demanding while making them. You can only make champagne only in Champagne. It is not produced widely as it is produced in a very specific region at the heart of France. In this region, all these have to come from this small region. A lot of exclusivity and details go into the production of champagne.
What are our expectations for the new product in the Nigerian market and how would you assess the performance of other products in the market?
In terms of what we want for our products in Nigeria, our products should be the brand of choice for the Nigerian people. We really want to be on this side of the Nigerian people, and we want to continue to be on their side. We know the market and that is why we are going deeply into it. Of course we have competitors.
In terms of the market share, where would you put yourself in Nigeria?
At the highest point. Nigerian people love our brands. Being at the highest point is a proof of that. We will continue to share our values and showcase that our product is really for them.
Beyond the premium market are you looking at anything to cater to the mass market?
In fact, we are looking at a situation where more Nigerians are able to afford our products. We really expect that the economy will continue to improve because it will be good for people. At the end, it will be good for our business. You know most of the players in terms of sparkling wines, spirits and champagnes sometimes, have not been able to produce wines this way. Moët & Chandon before being wine, it is champagne, and champagne is a luxury product. We are always there to make people dream, have high desires and purchasing ability. We hope that with a better economy, the purchasing power of consumers will rise.
In essence your brand is meant to make people become aspirational in their endeavours?
Exactly! To make people dream and to share good moments with them.
Having gone through your profile on LinkedIn, seen your experience, what would you say is different about this market compared to other markets?
How has it been selling champagne?
I used to do a short type of job before that. I was a contractor working for marketing but to me what is paramount is to share good moments with people. Yesterday, we had dinner with some guests from Lagos, to a launch of the new Moët & Chandon, and it was a great experience. I see what really pays us in my position since a few years now is to share moments with people, and beyond these products and beyond many things, you have got in touch with your people in a way and that makes my job very straight. In a way, I think the dinner with some people in Nigeria or in Kenya, South Africa, or in Adbijan or in the Paris, Germany, or Malaysia, all these people are very different. But in front of the wine, they all have the same reaction. You can be a millionaire of just want to celebrate a good moment with your family and friends, or a big moment in your life. It is the same behavior in front of the bottle, and the atmosphere after the taste of the drink. The ice is broken and everyone becomes friendly.
Among the markets; Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, which would you say is the biggest market for your products?
Nigeria! Nigeria because you know you have the largest economy in Africa, and have the biggest population if not stronger, and above all you love to enjoy life. Nigeria is the trade centre for Africa.