Cut-price Champagne concerns makers

28 September, 2012 by

By James Atkinson

The Australian trade must educate consumers that Champagne prices are currently at an all-time low in this country and the trend may not last, according to a Champagne industry representative.

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In Australia for this week's Vin de Champagne Awards, Comite Champagne communications director Thibaut Le Mailloux (pictured) told TheShout that Champagne is now "extremely cheap" in Australia.

"When you find a Champagne bottle at less than $50, suddenly it clashes with the right perception that people should have of Champagne: limited production from a strictly limited area, of an imported product that is complicated and expensive to produce, that is delicate and extremely high in quality," he said.

Le Mailloux acknowledged that the unprecedentedly low prices have recruited many more Australian consumers to the category, with a massive 4.9 million bottles imported into the country last year.

"In the short-term it helps us grow volume, which is great for the business, but we have to make sure that those consumers are paying the right price," he said.

"If some day the economic situation changes or the Australian dollar weakens, then the price will rise automatically. The danger would be to lose some of the consumers that we have recruited in the meantime."

Le Mailloux stressed that Champagne is "not a fast moving consumer good".

"We are super premium wine – Champagne shouldn't be promoted like shampoo," he said.

He said the trade should educate consumers that Champagne has a value, so that those consumers understand that the cost they are paying now is very cheap by global standards.

"It's good to know if what you are buying is actually cheap or expensive at the moment, because then you are in a better mindset to be prepared to pay more in case of inflation," he said.

"This is to the mutual benefit of both the trade and Champagne producers – we should be very careful about price elasticity and not go too far below a certain limit, not be too heavy on promotions because exchange rates are not forever, and inflation rates aren't either," Le Mailloux said.

"We shouldn't give them bad habits and at the same time we need to educate them on what they are buying and why they are buying it at this cost."