Break Time with Christina Hsu, Senior Brand Manager of Cîroc


Very few spirits brands have captured the attention of the public like Cîroc. An iconic design, a roster of celebrity brand advocates and an ultra-premium, world-class vodka made from fine French grapes make Cîroc a powerhouse spirit sought after by a splendor-seeking, multi-cultural customer. In January 2016, Cîroc set sights on the Chicago market, launching a fully-integrated media campaign targeting LDA consumers. In this edition of Break Time, Christina Hsu, Senior Brand Manager for Cîroc explains the method behind the investment in the local market and why the Ultra-Premium vodka is the next great Chicago spirit.

Breakthru Beverage: Cîroc’s brand equity in popular culture is undeniable. From your standpoint, what is it about Cîroc? What surprises you about the brand’s perception in front of consumers?

Christina Hsu: To me, Cîroc is a brand that represents modern luxury; aspirational yet still accessible. I’m always pleasantly surprised by the legions of brand adorers. When I’m out in bars, I often see people order a signature Cîroc cocktail like the Coco Loso (Cîroc Coconut and pineapple juice) unprompted and people love telling me which one of the flavors is their favorite. What’s amazing is that while we are beloved by many, we are only at over 40% awareness indicating huge growth potential. 

BB: How is Cîroc looking to expand to new segments of consumers?

CH: We’ve done a fantastic job of cultivating a core audience and our next big push is to expand our brand to the general market, women in particular. We have the right flavor profiles, the right look, and the right programming –we’re investing more than ever in the female target with media buys on Bravo, NBC and sponsorships of New York Fashion Week and the GRAMMYs.

BB: We’re speaking shortly after the Cîroc Apple launch. What has been the reaction from the bartending and mixology community thus far?

CH: We have national trade ambassadors who have taken the opportunity to introduce Cîroc Apple to bartenders. Their overall impression is that it’s a fantastic spirit with pronounced fruit notes balanced with a touch of tartness that makes it easy to mix. A lot of bartenders and mixologists are making new takes on classic drinks like the apple martini which can be done with just three ingredients: Cîroc Apple, lime juice and simple syrup, shaken over ice.

BB: We can’t talk about Cîroc without discussing the brand’s impressive roster of social media influencers and fans. The conversation online around Cîroc is entertaining and truly one-of-a-kind for a vodka. What does that bring to the brand? What are the challenges there?

CH: The influencers who adore Cîroc are definitely to be envied and represent years of hard work cultivating the right people to speak on behalf of the brand. We feel privileged to have Sean Combs behind the brand, amplifying our messaging and ensuring people understand the quality of our liquid.  The downside of that is that we have other influencers such as our Master Distiller, Jean-Sebastian Robicquet, who are equally persuasive and charming but might get over-shadowed. But I will say that, Jean-Sebastian and Sean are a fantastic team and there is huge opportunity for them both to speak about the brand.

BB: Currently, Cîroc is launching a major, integrated advertising campaign in the Chicago market. From a national point of view, what’s the opportunity in the local market?

CH: We feel that a critical part of really growing Cîroc organically is finding places around the country where we have the right pieces in place to fuel the brand. Chicago is a perfect example of this – we have a fantastic distributor partner, a great local marketing team and strong growth but lots of runway. On top of that the timing couldn’t be more perfect. We have so much going on in H2: a multi-million media buy, with a significant amount targeted to local media campaigns along with national press surrounding our sponsorships of the GRAMMY Awards and the NBA All Star Game.

BB: Chicago is the second largest Spirits market in the U.S., according to Census data. Beyond that, what is the chief opportunity in the market? Why is an investment of this kind being made in Chicago during such a high-impact fiscal quarter?

CH: What’s not to love about Chicago? It’s such a great city. It’s cosmopolitan, incredibly diverse, there’s so many things to do, places to go, and such great food and dining. Cîroc is about living that ultimate lifestyle and Chicagoans are one of the same.

Harness the power of Cîroc’s investment in your market; contact your Breakthru Beverage Sales Consultant to stock-up on the Cîroc Collection including the new Cîroc Apple. 


Read Next Article See all Illinois news