Belvedere Vodka from the house of Moet Hennessy recently launched its new platform ‘Belvedere Studio B’ in India, focused on promoting the collective spirit of creative geniuses across the fields of art, fashion and music. Stephane de Meurville, Managing Director, Moët Hennessy India who joined his new assignment in India in November 2016 is all geared up to making a difference. With ‘Studio B’ he aims to bring Belvedere’s distinctive character and uncompromising integrity to create exciting experiences and cement Belvedere’s position as the most desired vodka brand in India. He talked about this most innovative platform and also other issues in this free-wheeling conversation with Bishan Kumar.


Belvedere Vodka

Tell us about Belvedere’s new property in India, involving creative spirits. What is the philosophy behind this initiative?

Studio B is a celebration of the beauty of art and the coming together of a collective spirit. Belvedere Studio B positions Belvedere as a brand that celebrates ‘collaborative spirit’—a source of inspiration for creative minds to come together and share their collective creativity with a larger audience. Belvedere believes beauty in its truest form is talent and dedication of inspired spirits, the coming together of pioneers to create unique unrepeatable, unforgettable expressions of their artistry.

Studio B is a place where India’s elite can let loose; celebrate all the hard work that goes into mastering their art inspired by the hazy magic of Art with Lekha Washington, Fashion with Nikhil Thampi and Music with Lost Stories. With its creative minds and master curator Sidharth Malhotra the platform seeks to transform an unknown urban space into a creative wonderland.

How were artists of different genre selected and what do they bring to the table?

Belvedere delivers a vodka of true character: a fusion of two pure ingredients, rye and water. The mingling of these two elements creates a beautiful spirit. Studio B aims to translate this distinctive, uncompromising spirit into an exciting experience, reflecting the belief of the brand, its unrivalled quality and rich heritage.

We have identified inspiring and talented individuals, wedded to popular culture and yet drawn by the edgy. This year we have thrown open a challenge to three influencers Nikhil Thampi (fashion), Lost Stories (music), and Lekha Washington (art) to create an experience – Belvedere Studio B.

Nikhil Thampi is among the most popular young contemporary designers. He has pushed the boundaries of fashion, loves to experiment and has become a major celebrity favourite too. Lost Stories, the DJ/Producer duo of Prayag Mehta and Rishab Joshi are making waves in the global electronica industry, with their groundbreaking musical creations. From running a successful product design company, creating sculptures and contemporary art installations, to being a talented performer, Lekha Washington’s sculptures and larger than life installation present an interesting dichotomy. We are excited to work with these creative people to launch the collective spirit of Belvedere Studio B.

Nikhil Thampi, Rishab Joshi & Prayag Mehta, Lekha Washington and Sidharth Malhotra
Nikhil Thampi, Rishab Joshi & Prayag Mehta, Lekha Washington and Sidharth Malhotra

When, where & how will this new property be rolled out?

Belvedere Studio B was unveiled on March 23 at the Famous Studios in Mumbai. The venue was transformed into a creative, urban wonderland. And Studio B came to life amidst an immersive experience marked by the innovative interpretations of the artistes, all inspired by Belvedere. The multi-sensory event included a futuristic fashion statement by Nikhil Thampi combined with the aesthetics of Lekha Washington’s beautiful art installation and Lost Story’s evocative music.

Will this be an on-going exercise and what new elements are expected to be added in the future?

This is just the beginning. Belvedere Studio B will keep evolving with time, enriching the consumer’s experience around Belvedere. Consumer demand is shifting towards more luxurious products, which demonstrate heritage, provenance and authenticity. A perfect follow-up would include Belvedere Studio B nights at bars near you. It will see artists from many different genres perform together. The platform will continue to evolve in the coming years.

What are the tangible & not-so-tangible advantages of this exercise for Belvedere as a brand?

Belvedere Vodka is the original and true expression of luxury vodka, created from 600 years of Polish vodka-making tradition. It is a vodka with a natural character, a statement of style, substance and confidence, a luxury vodka for the connoisseurs. This creative platform reflects the beliefs of the brand and its unrivalled quality and rich heritage. Belvedere Studio Bis our biggest collaboration till date in India.

In a market of conscious consumers looking for authentic products and true and amazing experiences, we have delivered successfully.

You have a glittering brand portfolio, Moët, Hennessy,Dom Pérignon, Glenmorangie, and Chandon. Which of these will be your main focus this year and what is your action plan for them?

Moët, Hennessy

Moët Hennessy India is focusing on all its different brands in the current year. All our brands are unique in their own way and target a different audience. Apart from Belvedere, our big focus this year is Glenmorangie, Hennessy and Chandon which is not to say that we aren’t focusing on other brands. The main pillars for all brands are education, product making, history, partner training, increasing awareness with digital marketing and delivering truly amazing experiences to our consumers.
What new experiential branding ideas can we expect in 2018?
As a company Moët Hennessy is pushing the boundaries and experimenting with new forms of consumer engagement. We are using virtual reality, direct consumer interface through pop-up stores, Champagne vending machines and new creative collaborations such as Belvedere Studio B in addition to virtual reality at airports.
When you joined in 2016, you had said that India is a big market and you don’t have a full understanding of it. Now, after almost one and half years, how do you rate potential of your brands and what are the major challenges before you?
As an economy lifts it creates a larger middle-class and increases the potential for us. Within the luxury vodka segment, Belvedere has grown very steadily over the past few years. The growth of a brand is mirrored by the rising class of people who are aspiring to make high-end, luxury brands a part of their lives — not just with the tangible goods that they can touch and feel but also with experiences. The Indian consumer is up-trading across segments and categories and these are exciting times to further evolve the existing Belvedere experiences available to the Indian consumer. Thanks to education, we have been growing our base, which means more responsible consumption!

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