The billionaire owner of Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, Bernard Arnault, believes that Dom Perignon Champagne has more chance of staying relevant to the next generation of consumers than other luxury goods such as Apple's iPhone.
Speaking on the CNBC business channel in Paris this week, Arnault said that he is not concerned about fragile economic conditions around the world having an effect on demand for luxury products.
Specifically, he pointed to luxury Champagne brands as an example of how companies can marry heritage and innovation to maintain a high-end cache among consumers that can span several generations.
This, he said, is harder to achieve in some other sectors. ‘For instance, I have great admiration for the iPhone. I have an iPhone. But can you say that in 20 years people will still use an iPhone? Maybe not.
‘What I can say is that 20 years from now, I’m quite convinced that people will still drink Dom Perignon.’
Champagne endured a sluggish year in 2013, with global sales down by 1.5% in volume versus 2012, to 304m bottles, and 2% in value, to €4.3bn, according to figures from industry body CIVC.
LVMH, also owner of Krug, Ruinart and Moet & Chandon, saw Champagne volume sales fall by 1% over the same period. However, Arnault reported ‘strong demand for prestige cuvees’, as have several rivals, which appears to support his assertion this week that consumers have not lost their appetite for luxury goods in leaner economic times.
Forbes magazine estimates the Arnault family’s fortune at US$35.7bn.
Written by Chris Mercer