Propelled by a new generation of highly aspirational consumers, Champagne is on a strong upswing in the U.S. market. Depletions have accelerated each of the past two years, advancing by 5% in 2016 to surpass 1.4 million cases, according to Impact Databank. Meanwhile, shipment value has exploded. Since 2010, Champagne shipments to the U.S. have grown by two-thirds—or about 11% annually—to reach €540 million ($607m) in 2016. Last year, the pace of value expansion slowed slightly, to 5%, and Champagne shipments’ per-case value dipped about 1%—but that marginal correction followed a breakout 2015 during which value had surged by 28%.
Champagne marketers are bullish on the category’s future prospects. “Whether it’s with Prosecco or another sparkler, younger consumers are starting to enjoy sparkling wines on more occasions,” says Bill Terlato, president and CEO of Terlato Wine Group, which markets the Piper-Heidsieck and Duval-Leroy Champagne brands. “If we get them involved with sparkling wine, eventually they’re going to start to want Champagne, which is the ultimate sparkling wine.
Veuve Clicquot and Moët & Chandon, both imported by Moët Hennessy USA, continued to dominate the category in 2016, comprising 51% of the total U.S. Champagne market. Together, Moët Hennessy’s dynamic duo has expanded by more than 20% over the past three years, and is poised to break the 900,000-case threshold in combined volume this year. Two sweeter line extensions—Moët & Chandon Ice Imperial and Veuve Clicquot Rich—are appealing to younger consumers, according to Rodney Williams, CMO at Moët Hennessy USA. “Moët Ice was the first Champagne to launch at a higher dosage level, specifically to accommodate ice,” he says, noting that reception has been strong. Veuve Clicquot Rich ($63) is aimed at injecting Champagne into the mixology movement. “We believe these two innovations can take hold and create a whole new segment in the Champagne category,” Williams says. Moët Hennessy USA’s higher-end bubbly stable is also on the rise. Dom Perignon, ranked fifth in the market by volume despite a price point of above $160 a bottle, grew 4.3% to 61,000 cases last year.
Pernod Ricard’s Perrier-Jouët was the only top-five brand to register a consumption decline in 2016. The third-ranked Champagne brand slipped 3.6% to 77,000 cases in 2016, a drop that came on the heels of a 12% gain the year before. Nicolas Feuillatte, at number four, registered a 7.9% increase to 62,000 cases, regaining half the volume it had lost in 2015, when depletions slumped 16.2%. Overall, 12 of the top 20 Champagne brands in the U.S. market posted volume increases last year.
Aygline Pechdo, brand director, Champagne and sparkling at Pernod Ricard USA, says millennials are becoming key drivers of category volume. “The consumer base has diversified over the years and the consumption of Champagne is no longer reserved to the elite or older demographics,” Pechdo says. “In fact, most of the volume today is driven by ‘high-energy’ occasions, very much in line with millennials’ lifestyle and their desire to celebrate each day to its fullest—not just special occasions.”
Top 6 Champagne Brands in the U.S.
(thousands of nine-liter case depletions)
1 Veuve Clicquot Moet-Hennessy USA (LVMH)
2 Moet & Chandon Moet-Hennessy USA (LVMH)
3 Perrier-Jouet Pernod Ricard USA
4 Nicolas Feuillatte Ste. Michelle Wine Estates
5 Dom Perignon Moet-Hennessy USA (LVMH)
6 Piper Heidsieck Terlato Wines International
Sources: Shanken News; Impact Databank