Pernod Ricard on switching its focus to ‘consumption moments’ over brands

After restructuring its marketing teams to focus on ‘consumption moments’ instead of categories or brands, Pernod Ricard is shifting towards a ‘consumer-centric’ strategy which will see it embed ‘social responsibility’ messages in its top brands and use data to better understand its consumers.

Speaking at the company’s Capital Markets Day in Paris yesterday (2 June), CEO Alexandre Ricard said: “We’re no longer specifically loyal to one single brand, but to a repertoire of brands linked to a range of drinking occasions.

“All over the world we must place one of our brands at every gathering, at every shared moment where there’s a drink.”

Focusing on occasions

The move has involved a “significant change” on how the company structures its marketing teams, which are now focused on four consumption occasions – night out, premium socialising and luxury, get together and aperitif and meal occasion – rather than on brands.

Global business development director Conor McQuaid told Marketing Week that the company believes the new structure reflects how consumers see the brands.

“One of the things that’s been a great strength to the company over the years is the ability to associate the brand with consumption moments,” he said.

“There is a logic to it, and I think there’s a bit of a lightbulb moment organisationally from an efficiency perspective.”

He said that the structure allows the company to look at consumption occasions on a market-by-market level to “understand and quantify the size of the prize in each” and determine which brands play the best role.

In the UK, for example, the big opportunity is around “easy drinking, relatively low energy” occasions, according to McQuaid.

The company plans to roll out the structure to all markets by the end of 2016.

“It can be served market by market in different ways by different brands,” McQuaid said. “What we don’t want to do is start retrofitting the brand positioning.”

Getting to know the consumer through data

The new strategy will also see Pernod Ricard leverage new technologies in order to develop data allowing it to better understand its consumers.

“Gone are the days of just delivering the big TVC or big campaign,” McQuaid said. “It’s more about being responsive and reactive in real time.”

He said the company is looking to use real-time information to understand the profiles of its customers, such as what interests they have and what they do in their spare time.

“How we quantify that is something we’re working on,” he said. “It’s radically and fundamentally changing how our marketing teams have to react in terms of content delivery and keeping that relationship on an always on basis with the consumer.”

Making a positive difference through brands

Pernod Ricard is also hoping to address the changing ways consumers view brands by placing a “social responsibility message” in all of its top 14 brands by the end of the next fiscal year, according to McQuaid.

The move was driven by a recent Havas survey cited by the company, which showed that 73% of consumers believe brands should make a positive difference in their lives.

McQuaid said that while there were “a lot of things already happening in terms of brand activation” that fit into a social responsibility message within the company, they “got lost in the broader context of what the brand was standing for”.

“What we’re keen on ensuring is that this is seen as credible to the brand,” he said. “It needs to form part of what the communication strategy is. You’ll get called out from the consumer if not.

“Many brands fail to make this jump and are called out accordingly,” McQuaid said. “But it’s inherent to Pernod Ricard’s DNA.”

The company’s “Win The Right Way” campaign with Chivas Regal has seen it provide a $1m entrepreneurial fund through its “The Venture” competition, which has given the company an opportunity to “create brand value and give something back” according to McQuaid.

Its Jameson brand also recently partnered with Kevin Spacey to provide an opportunity for three up and coming filmmakers to have the actor participate in their short films.

“In terms of millennial consumers, there’s a real opportunity for us there to speak a bit more strongly to some of the work that’s ongoing,” McQuaid added.

“Our focus on that consumer opportunity places us in a very good space to pick up the pace and take the challenge that we know exists in the marketplace to the next stage.”

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here