Dr Jean-Noel Dollet (pictured left), Global Brand Owner of Bisquit Dubouche & Co is an expert in Luxury Marketing, Operations & Supply Chain. Here, he shares with us his thoughts on how millennials, who are moving into their prime spending years, are set to disrupt luxury markets across the globe. Pictured above is Maiketso Kgantsi, the South African Bisquit Cognac Brand Ambassador who represents the brand at various events and conducts tastings.

While luxury purchasing across the globe has predominantly been in the hands of the older, baby boomer generation, millennials are coming to the fore armed with buying power and discerning taste.

Dr Jean-Noel Dollet, Global Brand Owner of Bisquit Dubouche & Co. (a Cognac brand), is an expert in Luxury Marketing, Operations & Supply Chain, takes a closer look at what this new generation of consumers want, and what this shift means for luxury consumer markets.

Objects of desire

What makes someone buy an expensive perfume or bespoke piece of jewellery? Why would you choose authentic Champagne or Cognac, over a reproduction from another part of the world?

The choice to buy a luxurious product is not a decision based on need, but rather, on desire. For someone to make this choice, the product will need to resonate with an individual and be an expression their unique tastes and preference.

Other than enjoying the taste of the Champagne or Cognac, a special bottle will be opened to signify a momentous occasion, or presented as a gift to show gratitude to a host. In the same way, a carefully selected perfume might become your signature scent, and an intricately-crafted gold bracelet will be cherished for generations.

Understanding what triggers the desire to buy more expensive, exclusive products has been key to the successful production and marketing of luxurious brands.

While manufacturers and marketers might have understood what drives the baby boomers to choose luxury, a new approach is needed when attracting the millennial shopper.

The consumer transition

Luxury purchasing is moving swiftly from the older, ultra-rich to the upwardly mobile middle class consumers.

The millennials (born between 1980 and 2000) are taking the baton from the baby boomers (born 1946 to 1964), and in the next two decades, as the boomers move into retirement, the millennials will be an even more dominant force within the luxury consumer market.

This transition is estimated to start around 2018/2019 and will be firmly entrenched by about 2029, which will be the optimum period to capture the market share of millennials.

What makes this transition that much more significant, is that as millennials are one of the largest generations in history, they are set to become the biggest spending generation that the world has ever encountered.

The millennial mindset

Millennials have grown up under social, political, economic and environmental crises. Whether they experienced these crises directly, or viewed other people’s experiences via online media, television or social media, the world’s vast problems have been widely shared and are a part of this generation’s psyche.

As digital natives, millennials are completely at ease with technology and always connected; receiving global and local information daily, to their mobile devices. They have no faith in the ‘system’, are concerned about society and the environment, and they want the freedom to create their own future.

This generation of adults are rule breakers, digital addicts, egocentrics, while also being truth seekers, engaged citizens, active do-gooders, craft lovers and art collectors.

Authentic, considered luxury

Marketing to millennials will not be like marketing to their parents or grandparents’ generations. Typically, a millennial’s idea of status is not shaped by exclusive possessions, but rather by an alignment to freedom of expression, storytelling, experience and service.

Luxury, for this generation, is not defined by how much money is spent, but rather how priceless the experience is.

Today’s young adults will be less likely to splurge on a top-of-the-range watch, and would rather use that money for a once-in-a-lifetime travel experience, which will be treasured with loved ones, and, of course, documented on social media.

Technology is another important factor for the new generation consumer. From e-commerce to wearable fashion, a luxury brand needs to have a strong, dynamic digital presence for millennial buyers to fully engage with it. The physical product is just one component of the experience; technology takes the experience that much further.

The brand story is also a big luxury purchase driver. Millennials want to hear the ‘behind the scenes’ anecdotes, learn about where a brand originates from and see their preferred brands brought to life.

In this digital age, consumers can find out everything they want to know about a brand through videos, images. Through social media, a brand can tell its stories in a beautiful, shareable ways.

Luxury products need to have strong sentimental values for millennials, which includes an ethical, eco-conscious, craft-oriented brand story that offers consumers a deeper level of emotional connection with the product.

The Bisquit difference

By way of example, Bisquit Cognac’s origin and hand-crafted distillation technique that has been passed down over nearly 200 years through each Maître de Chai, offers consumers a point of difference when comparing it to other cognac brands.

Alexandre Bisquit, a Frenchman from Cognac, founded the House of Bisquit Cognacs in 1819 when he was just 20 years old. He was the son of a family of respected producers whose history in Cognac’s wine trade has roots traceable back to 1692.

In the early 1800s, the world was a vast and evolving place, and Alexandre’s curiosity and spirit was an equal match for it. He travelled from an early age, across China, Europe and Russia, gifting the taste of his unique cognac to artisans and admirers.

The longer distillation process that Bisquit employs makes it stand apart from competitors, who rely on machine-driven manufacturing processes to produce their cognac. The Bisquit method requires more time than the competitors’ process and the permanent attention of the Maître de Chai.

By constantly nosing and tasting, he slows the flow of the heart during distillation to achieve the most precise and preferred selection of the key elements. By the end of this additional time (heating during the critical second distillation), the aromatic notes of Bisquit eaux-de-vie are smoother, softer and more generous: This is what makes Bisquit Cognac a hand-crafted cognac.

Final thoughts

Millennials are poised to shape the global economy in significant ways. They are the key purchasers of the next two decades, and for luxury markets to succeed, brands need to tap into the millennial generations’ reasons for purchasing to create and market their products in a way that resonates with them.