CMO Q&A: Andy Glaser, CMO, Hennessy

Hennessy's Andy Glaser speaks with Alexandra Bruell about where the company is increasing marketing spend and its latest product launch.

You're trying to expand your consumer base with new cognac product Hennessy Black. Why now?

AG: Over the past 10 years or so, we've seen a strong growth of high-end premium white spirit brands. We think there's a major opportunity for us to attack that space and really extend the brand into these incremental consumption occasions.

What's the target audience?

AG: A younger, 21- to 29-year-old multicultural consumer who is now drinking more of these premium white spirit brands when socializing. Historically, Hennessy and cognac has been an urban category. For 100-plus years, it's been part of the African-American community here. We're widening to a more multicultural standpoint - Hispanic and general market as well.

How do you plan to reach this audience?

AG: Operating in the digital space is key. One market-ing platform we've created to position Hennessy Black is through [tie-ins with] dance and club DJs. We created this social media hub through Hennessyblack.com called the "world's largest dance floor." When we take this to clubs across the US, we have cameras to get people to upload their performances to our site.

Has there been any sort of shift in focus across marketing disciplines?

AG: I wouldn't say we're investing more in digital and social media than our traditional marketing, but we're shifting more dollars into the social media space. That's part of a clearly defined strategy.

What external trends are impacting your sector?

AG: Years ago, we'd all talk about trading up. Right now, we've seen a little hiatus from that. People are leaving a category, or more traditionally expensive products like Hennessy, and moving into more domestic brands or out of category to things like cheap vodka.

The good news is we have 50-plus years of data to show that once we move through the recession and times get easier, people don't forget the good things in their lives or things they've enjoyed in the past. In the coming year, we expect a strong bounceback.

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