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.”

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