Luc Belaire is not your average brand.
Started in late 2012, Luc Belaire was the brainchild of Brett Berish, CEO of Sovereign Brands. Despite being nothing more than an idea just three years ago, their Belaire Rosé is now the third best-selling rosé among all sparkling and Champagne in U.S. retail chains (with only 1% distribution), according to recent Nielsen numbers.
All this with no formal advertising and just a five-person marketing team.
Brett and his team have been refining their sales and marketing strategies since the inception of Sovereign Brands 15 years ago. In 2014 they sold off Armand de Brignac -- better known as "Ace of Spades" -- to Jay-Z, and also created partial interest in the famous D'USSÉ Cognac brand and sold that to Bacardi.
So what's their formula for success?
According to Daniel Mazier, Brand Marketing & Communications Manager for Luc Belaire, it boils down social media and support from celebrities. "We have a lot of momentum behind the brand on social," he says. Instagram has played an especially important role.
"It's been a great tool for us to communicate with our fans. Not just being able to share product news directly with our audience, but to have unofficial spin off accounts that are fan-managed. They amplify our content," he says.
Some of these accounts, which have thousands of followers, re-post and also create their own original content around the brand. "It's been somewhat of an informal market research tool that helps us get a sense directly from our fans on what they're most excited about," Mazier continued.
But Instagram hasn't only been useful as a marketing tool. It's also been a key sales tool for Belaire. The sales team tracks where people request product globally, and then leverage that demand to drive distribution.
By putting their efforts into strategic marketing, Belaire is able to get customers to ask for the product, versus pitching directly. This puts the terms in their favor when in talks with re-sellers and distributors.
If customers want it, they'll need to buy it. It's that simple.
"One of our sales reps posted a photo of a product delivery at one of our account partners in Southern California, and within minutes the retailer was receiving phone calls from customers wanting to come in and buy," says Mazier.
This grassroots approach to sales marketing is working, with Luc Belaire going from only a concept in late 2012 to the fastest-growing premium sparkling wine brand currently. Celebrity and influencer marketing has also played a large part in the brand's success.
"Celebrities, pro athletes and music talent have always embraced luxury goods and the aspirational lifestyle that sparkling wine and Champagne represents. I think they also naturally gravitate to brands and organizations that feel like an extension of their brand, or that they have an authentic connection with," Mazier continues.
Celebrity fans who post about the brand drive engagement online. But, according to Daniel, these are not your typical endorsement deals. Reason being? They aren't paid for.
"We are not buying relationships, or paying to sponsor events. We simply support our friends and those who support us. We are there to help these influencers celebrate career achievements, and they know that our doors are always open to them and their extended network with no strings attached other than the expectation that the loyalty and love we show them is returned."
But of course, all of this savvy marketing would be for naught if the drink was subpar.
Lucky for Luc Belaire, their drinks are far from it.
Daniel shipped me several bottles to try for this story in exchange for an unbiased review. I was impressed. Their new Brut is my favorite. I drank several glasses after a slow roasted garlic and lemon poultry dish.
Considering I just had a garlic dish -albeit mellower in pungency because it was cooked- my first reaction was how drinkable it was. "This could pair with anything!" I thought. The taste was refreshing, with a modest fruit undertone. In the mouth, it is dry and light, with a crisp finish. Not too sweet but not too dry. Again, very drinkable, and given the affordable price point (just under thirty dollars), it's perfect to have around for that occasional indulgence.
Go get a bottle.. or ten.
Brian Roberts is a writer, entrepreneur and guest lecturer from New Jersey. The author has no material connection or financial interest in the companies mentioned in this story. Subscribe to his free email newsletter here.