Bold and the beautiful: superbrand St-Rémy

3 July 2018

Super-premium brand St-Rémy recently sought to revitalise its identity and celebrate the brand’s historical standing as an esteemed, iconic product. Beverage Packaging Innovation was given the opportunity to learn more about the background to the rebranding through an interview with Hervé Buzon, global brand director at Rémy Cointreau.

In the super-premium category of French brandy, the market has assumed a hyper-conservative feel and look to preserve the nostalgia of the brand and assure consumers of the craft implemented in creating the drink. However, as consumer tastes and shopping habits change and a new market of millennial drinkers develops, the leading companies are looking at how to move with the times without losing sight of their heritage.

King of the jungle

St-Rémy is a world leader of French Brandy, and was established in 1886 in the village of Machecoul, Loire Valley, by Paul-Emile Rémy Martin. St-Rémy prides itself on being French – from the grapes to the bottling process. Available in over 40 countries worldwide, the St-Rémy brand is known for its quality and craftsmanship, and the new packaging has been designed to pay homage to heritage and market leadership, without losing connection with its fundamental roots and quality.

One element of this new design is a ‘walking lion’ symbol that demonstrates the brand’s strong position as the apex manufacturer of brandies. The new icon is taken from a heraldic lion discovered in the company’s archives. As explained by Jean-Denis Voin, CEO of liqueurs and spirits at Rémy Cointreau, “the new designs for 2018 of the VSOP and XO support the St-Rémy strategy to create value within the brandy market. This major design uplift aims to reinforce St-Rémy’s quality leadership and shelf appeal, and moreover the opportunity to implement a full brand relaunch.” The St-Rémy brand relaunch includes key visuals of the bottles surrounded by golden halos. This is to emphasise the brand’s regal history, associated with its namesake, Saint Remegius, a bishop who baptised Clovis, the very first King of France.

It is important that the feel of the packaging is in line with the luxury market, from taste to touch the brand’s values must shine through.

The decision to change the packaging design, according to global brand director Hervé Buzon, was “the packaging design had not been refreshed for a long time and it was felt it was no longer supporting our value strategy. We wanted to express more quality, authenticity and reinforce our uniqueness as French brandy. The brandy industry is flat in many established markets. With St-Rémy, we want to take initiative and not only drive growth in our established markets but also find a way to introduce our expertise and brand to a wider global audience.”

“The black bottle is iconic and we did not want to change it. In key markets where the brand is very strong, it is part of our DNA and integral to brand recognition. For those markets, the brief was largely for the labels and gift box presentation to better reflect our key messages. We wanted to highlight the French origin with status and confidence. This has been achieved with the use of the black colour and the reintroduction of the ‘walking lion’, an expression of quiet strength.” It had been a symbol since the creation of the brand but disappeared in over the decades. We have now reintroduced it to bring the design in line with our brand values – authenticity, confidence and care. It allows us to link a symbol from the very birth of our brand and resulting heritage while also connecting to the modern world.”

The black bottle is iconic and we did not want to change it. In key markets where the brand is very strong, it is part of our DNA and integral to brand recognition.

With regard to connectivity, engagement and their place in packaging design, Buzon explains, “We want the images of the brand to resonate with the consumer and evoke strong emotions of power, stability and trust. We have chosen these heraldic images and royal colours to instil those messages further.

This new design was created with the requirement that it would easily translate across multiple media and could resonate whether through active or smart packaging. The packaging has to be a reflection of this story but cannot work alone. Clients now refuse to pay a high price for a nice bottle just for the bottle. The liquid and the story behind it have to be bold and intriguing. St-Rémy has 130 years of history and has always capitalised on the French provenance.”

On brandy

No company works in isolation, and St-Rémy is no exception, crediting Desdoigts & Associés design agency with its support and application of its experience to help launch the newlook product. When it comes to how to define the success of a new campaign, Buzon reflects, “If we are successful – particularly in terms of packaging design – we should see an impact on sales figures quickly. So far, all markets have been very positive when we presented the project. It is clearly what the brandy category needs. Now the new designs are on the shelves in most of the market, our business trajectory is firmly above global category trends.

“Our hope is to build on this initial success and interest, and turn this into consistent and growing sales,” he continues. In discussing the success of a campaign there was also mention of the importance of the materials used to pack the new bottles: “It is important that the feel of the packaging is in-line with the luxury market, from taste to touch the brand’s values must shine through. In this case, glass remains the main material to use in order to evoke these feelings and there is therefore no change in materials for primary packaging from what we had used previously, as it was the fit-forpurpose, inconic material.”

Looking to the future, Buzon is excited at the possibilities and developments on the horizon, “A new logo and a redesign of our packaging, as well as new merchandising designs to showcase at airports and we are launching a new and modern website.” The company priority this year is to activate St-Rémy in-store, in off-trade with seasonal designs and in on-trade with a new range of drinks and cocktails. A suggestion of an impending take on an iconic favourite. There may be a limited edition or two – so keep your eyes open.

Roots steeped in tradition

In 1886, the Rémy Martin vineyards in the Charente region of France were badly damaged. In search of raw materials, the entrepreneurial Paul-Emile Rémy Martin II identified Machecoul. The same year, he set up a distillery to produce high-quality brandy and St-Rémy was born.

The most prestigious french brandy
St-Rémy is the world’s favourite French brandy, prized by connoisseurs and critics alike since 1886. With 130 years of brand history, the recipe is passed down from generation to generation. It remains a closely guarded secret known only to dedicated master blenders, protected and encased in an iconic black bottle.

Cécile Roudaut, the master blender
Cécile joined Rémy Cointreau in the summer of 1997. After almost two decades, having helped with the creation of limited editions of St-Rémy, she was appointed master blender by her retiring predecessor Martine Pain.

Cécile Roudaut defines her role as “selecting eaux-de-vies and nurturing them as they mature in Limousin oak barrels. I then evaluate them and create blends that will ultimately become St-Rémy.” Roudaut is aware of the expectations of her work, “St-Rémy is an elegant brandy combining tradition, history and a unique smoothness. I see it as my role to ensure our brandy retains authenticity and is enjoyed by consumers from age 30 and above.”

Timeline of a brand

The distillery is established in Machecoul, France.

The creation of finest St-Rémy.

The creation of the unique St-Rémy bottle.

St-Rémy is first exported outside of France.

St-Rémy launches St-Rémy ‘Napoléon’ VOSP.

Martine Pain, cellar master at St-Rémy, creates St-Rémy XO.

Martine Pain creates St-Rémy ‘Réserve Privée’, the brand’s first high-end limited edition.

St-Rémy ‘Small Batch Réserve’ is launched with a limited release.

Martine Pain retires after 35 years at the service of the house.

The ‘Inspired by History’ campaign begins.

St-Rémy is celebrating its history – marrying classical elegance with a modern twist.

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