Hennessy has a long history in Latin America; the Cognac was first introduced in Mexico in 1860. The brand is now trying to reach out to bicultural Hispanic consumers in the U.S., according to Manny Gonzalez, Hennessy’s senior director of multicultural.
One strategy is employing six Latino influencers in major target markets to help promote the brand; another is reaching the audience at events related to sports popular in the Hispanic community, such as baseball and soccer. For instance, Hennessy this past summer created specialty cocktails for clubs hosting World Cup viewing parties.
The key with signature cocktails for Hispanic-centric events is incorporating ingredients from the home countries, Gonzalez says, like the Hennessey Mojito, which uses the Cognac as a base spirit instead of rum. Aguas frescas, light, non alcoholic beverages popular in Mexico, Central America and the Carribean, offer several flavor profiles for that appeal to Latino consumers, Gonzalez says.
Popular flavors for aguas frescas include taramind, hibiscus and watermelon, as well as horchata–a beverage made with ground almonds, rice, cinnamon and other ingredients. In fact, the Henchata, a cocktail that mixes traditional horchata with Hennessy, has been a huge success for the brand, Gonzalez says. It was created at Chacho’s restaurant in San Jose, CA.
“We have to be careful with what we blend [Hennessy] with,” Gonzales says of the brand’s efforts to appeal to the Hispanic demographic. “Authenticity is the only way we are going to be credible.”
Before the current whisky craze took hold, Hennessy commissioned a research study in 2009 “to see where brown spirits sat with the Hispanic community,” Gonzales says. It found that brown spirits were already over-indexing with Latinos back then, “so they were in some ways leading the trend,” he notes. “That gave us the confidence to further our investment and commitment to the market.”