Comtesse du Barry To Achieve a Revolution
Brands are living and fragile materials that can die or revive depending on marketing and retail strategies.
Let’s consider Comtesse du Barry, a French foie gras and delicatessen brand that used to dominate the domestic market in the 1990’s, thanks to massive sales on mail order alongside with a strong presence in supermarkets. But, as the internet rose, Comtesse du Barry had progressively faded away and strived to survive economically.
Under the initiative of its new owner, a well established co-operative agricultural group, and the talent of a new managing team, Comtesse du Barry has taken action to start fresh again.
The new main drivers for change are:
- a re-positioning which has turned the brand into a gourmet gift proposition,
- a range of products that are mostly made in the south west of France where the brand is historically deeply rooted,
- a comprehensive overhaul of the recipes to achieve a higher standard of quality,
- new packagings to lure younger generations and new audiences,
- a new store concept.
Let’s explore this new store design and figure out how it has been implemented in two different contexts in Paris. First, in a business district in central Paris, and second in a a busy shopping center under the Louvre museum, where the vast majority of shoppers are tourists from Asia and the Americas. Who barely know what foie gras or “terrines” (a more sophisticated version of “paté”) are actually standing for.
- Right from the outside, we can tell that the brand wants to tell visitors a refined story. The visual merchandising is neat and catchy to encourage people to come in and discover the whole product range.
- Inside the store, customers are immersed in a delicate and high-end environment that refers to the French nobility codes.
- The range of products is wide and deep. Perfectly displayed in white elegant wooden cabinets, the packagings are standing out to encourage impulse buying.
- In case visitors had no clue about what to purchase, the store showcases numerous gift packs that are difficult to resist.
- Comtesse du Barry has undoubtedly achieved greater modernity thanks to the new packagings and a creative decor which includes a few bold graphic designs .
- A “Jouy” pattern (a traditional French pattern for wallpapers) has been specifically designed for the store as an iconic element.
- Even though Comtesse du Barry is famous for canned food products, the brand is also offering fresh foie gras and smoked salmon for more demanding customers. Champagne wines, a number of which are specifically elaborated for Comtesse du Barry, are complementing the product scope.
- Some wines and olive oils are also co-branded. A relevant method to stretch the brand on specific market segments.
- In the Louvre store, original initiatives have been introduced to cater to the tourist audience. Starting with a digital service that allows tourists to access information about recipes and ingredients. They just have to press the cover of the cans that are connected to the screen.
- A candy bar has also been installed in the store as well as exclusive vintage “Armagnac” (a kind of Brandy produced in the south-west of France) to enrich the tourist experience.
- Lastly, a poetic “window” opened on a a traditional landscape of the brand home region gives an extra flavour to the customer journey.
To wrap-up the visit, I would like to highlight the following elements:
- By taking the risk to lose long-standing customers, Comtesse du Barry has initiated an essential revolution. Starting fresh and bold, the brand is now on the verge to start a new cycle of growth and expansion.
- Even though French South-West culinary tradition is mostly seen here as rustic and invigorating, Comtesse du Barry has chosen a disruptive marketing strategy based on refinement and subtlety. The new store concept has been filled with French cultural codes with a twist, which are likely to please both French and tourists.
- In my opinion, I would have suggested the brand to unleash creativity a bit more in order to give the store an even stronger personality. In that perspective, I would have displayed off the scale rabbit and duck portraits on the walls.
- I think that the whole customer experience would have been even more convincing with a solid wooden floor (as we can see the in traditional Parisian apartments) instead of linoleum.
- It is hard to tell if French customers who have known the brand when it was not always synonymous with quality 20 years ago will be attracted by the new Comtesse du Barry. The brand will have to convince them to enter the stores and try again the products. This is not a small issue. I guess the brand will have to take multiple marketing actions in the near future, such as a pop-up restaurants or a dedicated food trucks, to connect directly with the customers and change the game.