Moet & Chandon's champagne 'caves' in Epehnay
That India’s maharajas lived lavish lives is very well documented. They ordered jewels from Cartier and custom-made cars from Rolls Royce; and champagne from Moet & Chandon. The luxury champagne brand unearthed documents earlier this year, which show that the first cases of Moet champagne came to India as far back as 1839.
Gaurav Bhatia, marketing director for Moët Hennessy India, says most of Moët & Chandon’s early shipments to India were to fulfill demand requests from Indian nobility and British expats. Moet’s first shipment to the Indian subcontinent went to a European firm in Calcutta called Becher Chapman and Co.
A shipment bill for Becher Chapman and Co.
Moet in India
The Moet & Chandon Maison was established in 1743 and was introduced in India under the British Raj almost a century later. And the type of drink has always been popular among the country’s jet set. Talking about the evolution of India’s champagne tastes, Bhatia explains that marketplace dynamics today are very different even from a couple of decades ago.
“I will tend to agree that champagne was positioned for and consumed by the old-money, elite in India until about the early 1990s. But, the story of post-liberalisation India has been completely different. There’s more disposable income doing the rounds today; aspirations have steadily charted an upward course in urban India. The very definition of luxury has undergone a massive change here – what was once about ‘status symbols’ is now a lifestyle,” said Bhatia.
Today, said Bhatia, Indians know the difference between champagne and sparkling wine; something Moët Hennessy India had to educate Indians about while talking about Moët & Chandon in the early 2000s. But now Moet & Chandon is gearing up to appeal to the next generation. “The first few years of the product cycle did go into tapping our ‘evangelists’ in the market – those who had the ability and willingness to buy Moët & Chandon. [And] yes, champagne is still a celebratory drink, a permanent fixation at weddings in Mumbai and Delhi. But, it’s what’s happening in the nightclubs and in smaller towns that is catching our eye – that’s where the next bottle of Moët is going!” said Bhatia.
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