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Entry-level brands ‘aren’t improving quality’

The trend towards premiumisation across all consumer categories, including fashion and alcohol, is seeing brands improve their image without improving quality, Cognac Hine’s CEO has said.

Cognac Hine CEO Francois le Grelle
Cognac Hine CEO Francois le Grelle

The luxury sector has been challenged by premiumisation across all price points as entry-level products “appropriate the codes of luxury”, Francois Le Grelle said.

This trend has meant that lower grade brands have been able to “improve their overall perception without improving their quality”, he claimed in an exclusive interview with the drinks business. 

Le Grelle said that he sees the borders between categories as “getting blurrier”, threatening the standing of luxury products.

As a reaction to this, however, “connoisseurs are now seeking products with flawless raw material, of precise provenance and uncompromising quality” in their search for truly premium brands.

“It is not about flaunting a logo anymore,” he argued. “Luxury consumption patterns have switched to acute discernment, and a luxury purchase is almost seen as an investment that one will truly enjoy forever.”

Hine sells a range of ultra-premium expressions, its most expensive being the Talent de Thomas Hine. It is bottled in Baccarat crystal and comes boxed in its own mahogany cigar humidor, and retails for around £5,250.

Francois Le Grelle’s comments will feature in a special luxury spirits focus in the next issue of the drinks business.

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