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Behind the brand: Talking sparkling wine with Sophia Sinha of Chandon India

By LLM Reporters  |  June 7, 2021
Grapes Leaves In A Vineyard. Vineyards At Sunset, Closeup

Words by Roshna Chandran

After expanding to its recent location in Dindori, Nashik, Maharashtra seven years ago, Chandon India has been consistently innovating new experiences and this time with a new identity. Sophia Sinha, marketing head at Moët Hennessy and the driving force behind the successful launch of Chandon India, talks to LLM – Luxury Lifestyle Magazine. 

Tell us about Chandon India’s unique selling point

The Chandon you know and love was right for its time; the Chandon you see now is the future – of the brand and also our consumer. We are confident that the sparkling wine segment will only grow further and therefore, we have ensured we evolve in accordance. 

Sophia Sinha
Sophia Sinha, marketing head at Moët Hennessy and the driving force behind the successful launch

How has Covid-19 pandemic affected Chandon sales this year? 

We have been impacted just as much by the current pandemic situation as anyone else. Our brand is a domestic premium sparkling wine created especially for the domestic (greater India) market. It is hard to comment on the sales patterns given the ever-changing market dynamics. However, what we need to think of is the future and what that means for Chandon in India. Studies show that the Indian consumer is spending a premium on the product that exhibits a certain quality and are willing to support brands that have a purpose – our endeavor is to be a brand with a purpose in everything we do – as a brand or as a winery. 

How do you educate consumers? 

India is a dark market and hence, that completely rules out advertising in its traditional format. We do have presence on digital and we ensure that whatever we do is in accordance with guidelines given by regulatory bodies. 

Bottle of Chandon India
Studies show that the Indian consumer is spending a premium on the product that exhibits a certain quality and are willing to support brands that have a purpose

With Chandon being a sparkling wine, in a dark spirits market, where advertising without a proper and validated brand extension is prohibited, we do the best we can with educating – both our customers and our consumers. We do this through our brand and wine ambassadors who train the members of the trade and consumers alike. We also ensure to incorporate informative digital posts on our Instagram handle – @chandonindia, while having developed a strong influencer marketing strategy throughout the years in line with guidelines provided.

How would you describe consumer behaviour?

We will continue to target what we define as the Indian Ecoist. These are consumers between the ages of 25 to 40 years, living across tier 1 and 2 cities in India. These consumers have evolved along with us too; they are courageous, independent, bold, young, urban consumers looking for brands that have a purpose and those that are eco-friendly/sustainable. At Chandon, we stand for all of these values because at Moët Hennessy we don’t sell products or bottles, we craft experiences.

I think every consumer is different because no two people can be alike, however, behaviours and consumption patterns are what make consumers similar. We do see some difference in the consumption of sparkling wine and its occasions between north, west, south and east, but we also see commonalities. The beauty of being a marketeer is to find these and create programmes that address the sameness and the differences. That’s what we do when we activate any programme.

People enjoying wine
The brand inform customers via their Instagram handle, @chandonindia

Tell us about the people who are behind this venture in India

I head marketing for Moët Hennessy India, an organisation that is one of the pioneers in the industry when it comes to women in leadership positions and holding a key role in an alco-bev space. With over 15 years of experience in brand building and marketing in India (and Europe), I have been one of the driving forces behind the successful launch of Chandon India (I was brought to MH India to helm Chandon’s birth in India). 

Our head winemaker, Kaushal Khairnar, manages every aspect of winemaking at Chandon – right from the grape harvest to the final disgorgement of bottles – Kaushal’s role extends to the brand’s overall winemaking strategy and leading essential winery operations.

We also have Ipsita Das, managing director of Moët Hennessy India. She is a visionary with a passion to chart out memorable journeys for brands and has a great understanding of the Indian subcontinent market place.

Team picking grapes
The team is hands on and have a passion for producing quality-products

Rajesh Dixit is the estate director. He believes that wine culture is growing fast, and people are excited about a good high-quality product that’s made in India but global in every way, including winning international awards.

What are your expansion plans?

Chandon India will continue to grow in the direction the market dynamics shape us. Today, at home consumption is a key ‘consumption opportunity’ and I regard it as a separate channel in itself. When India does open e-commerce, that would mean another new dimension to reaching consumers. We will keep our hand on the pulse and be agile. For now, it’s to be where our consumers are.