Fabien Levieux, Ambassadeur de la Maison reveals how he likes his drink and what’s inside the Hennessy bottle that has got the world hooked
Business Insider SSA had a chat with the global Ambassador in a bid to learn what’s inside the Hennessy bottle that the whole world can’t get enough off.
Available across five continents and selling more than 50 million bottles worldwide annually, Hennessy is the world's best selling cognac.
BISSA: So how long have you been in this space and how did you end up being the brand ambassador of the world’s bestselling cognac?
Fabien:“It has been 20yrs now in the wine and spirits industry, I started back in 1998 fresh from college. I started in sales and then I quickly realized I wasn’t that good at it but I was a little better when I was talking about education, talking about what is in the bottle, the wine making, the distillation process and the like so logically I moved towards the education part of the business which is very enjoyable and I love it, I have been with Hennessy six and half years now.”
BISSA: Apart from teaching people about Hennessy what would say you love the most about your work?
Fabien: “Well, there is something about Hennessy that we call the art of blending, meaning that we take different ingredients and blend them together just like a painter if you want, taking different colours and bringing them together to create something beautiful, that is exactly what we do. But I do believe blending is not limited to cognac alone I believe blending is also a matter of cultures as well and that is why I love about my work, they gave me the opportunity to travel as well, Kenya is officially the 40th country I have been to so I have experienced Chinese, French, American, Nigerian cultures etc. it allows me to discover the different cultures, now I can talk about the Kenyan traffic too (laughs) there is so much about Kenya apart from the mountains and the Lions, there are people, there is food and that I what I love about my work.”
BISSA: The African market is still evolving and lacks enough knowledge about the Hennessy brand, is that a challenge to you and how do you intend to solve it?
Fabien: “It is a challenge for sure but like I love to say appreciation grows, the more you know about Hennessy the more you like it. We have been enjoying Cognac in Europe for 250 years now so of course, we have a little bit more background information about the brand than you guys in Africa but the African market is quicker than Europe in growing, in developing, in welcoming new knowledge and new modes of consumption, you are much quicker. This is also the 21st century and things happen quicker thanks to social media and everything know , within a flash about say something which happened in the US while you yourself are here at home so we are confident in the next 25years, that is when I will be retiring, that the African and Kenyan market will be completely different and Hennessy will be big here.”
BISSA: Before you call it quits and retire what would love to see in the African markets in terms of its consumption of Hennessey?
Fabien: “I would love to see the African markets be as strong as the other markets, what we want as Hennessy is to evenly split our risks across all our markets. We want to be strong in America, Asia, Europe and in Africa, you know we started shipping to America in 1794, started shipping to China in 1859 and of course over Europe way before that, slowly we got to Africa and Africa is quickly gaining there and before I retire I am sure Africa will be contributing about 25% of our world sales.”
BISSA: Who is your Target audience in Kenya?
Fabien: “Everybody who loves life is our target audience, our art of blending goes hand in hand with the art of living, Hennessy is about good people who are about to enjoy a good moment, good food, good drink and great company, that is the perfect cocktail.”
BISSA: Would you say it is your art of blending that put Hennessy on a league of its own or it is a combination of factors?
Fabien: “We are good at many things so it is a combination of many different factors, usually you are good at something and not everything, like for instance my stuff is training, selling I cannot do that, I am really bad at it but as far as Hennessy is concerned we are good at creating a beautiful spirit , we are also good at marketing, communication, we really have a good solid team of people taking care of communications, it means that people who buy a bottle of Hennessy for the first time have heard about it, the brand name and everything but they will buy it the second time because of what inside the bottle so like I said it is a combination of many different factors ranging from the art of blending, having good distribution channels, making smart decisions at the right time like joining forces with Moët & Chandon in 1971 etc.”
BISSA: After a hard day at work, how do you like to cool off?
Fabien: “It depends, if it is a hard day in the middle of July or August when the weather is super-hot you might wanna cool off with a little Hennessy V.S.O.P and ginger ale, lime or ice and that would be great, maybe it is winter day then you might want to relax with Hennessy X.O on the rocks that would be good or maybe have Hennessy V.S.O.P classic cocktails, I make my own classic cocktails by the way if you want.”
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