Meet the booze king behind Absolut and Jameson

Pernod Ricard CEO Alexandre Ricard talks luxury alcohol and why he's using social media to attract today's drinkers.

Meet the Booze King Behind Absolut and Jameson

By Lifestyle and Budget

He was born into the booze business. And, now at 44 years of age, Alexandre Ricard is the youngest CEO to control the second largest wine and spirits company in the world.

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“I’ve been getting up in the morning with a big smile on my face,” Ricard tells

He’s the grandson of distiller and Pernod Ricard founder, Paul Ricard, who founded the company in 1974. Today, the Paris-based company has a market cap value of $28.7 billion dollars, according to Fortune.

And, with only one year at the helm and over 18,000 employees worldwide, Ricard is already eying to beat the industry leader, Diageo (DEO), the British multinational alcoholic company that is currently the world’s largest producer of spirits and beer.

“The goal is to place one of our brands in the heart of every gathering and celebration around the world and help turn these moments into experiences,” he says.

Pernod Ricard is known internationally for their iconic brands like Absolut, Jameson, Ballantine's, Chivas Regal, Martell and Royal Salute. Ricard says he is now calling upon his employees all around the world to help get the message out as brand ambassadors on social media.

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“I’m a strong believer of word of mouth. Who do you trust most? It’s your friends, your relatives, and your colleagues. And, when they come to you and say you know what, I know this brand because I work for this brand. I know the integrity behind the brand. I think that is much more powerful than any given ad you can see.”

Ricard is also joining in on the action himself by signing up for his own personal social media accounts.

“I’m on Instagram, Facebook (FB), and Linkedin (LNKD). I’m not on Twitter (TWTR). I couldn’t manage all four at the same time,” he jokes. “Consumers today are on social media and we started our digital revolution internally at Pernod Ricard some four years ago and now I would like to say it is part of our daily lives in terms of working both internally and externally.”

Pernod Ricard is currently the world’s leader in the premium spirits category. It operates in more than 85 affiliates and 100 production sites in four regions around the world.

“The U.S. is by far our largest market with half of the total value of the spirits industry,” he says. “Today’s drinkers want to drink better and better with high quality ingredients. Premiumization is one of the biggest underlying trends right now but that's not new at all.”

Pernod's U.S. sales continue to be driven by Jameson, which account for 23% of its total sales last year. The company has also seen an uptick in upscale brands like The Glenlivet (+9%), Martell (+25%) as well as Malibu (+2%).

While Ricard says running a massive company takes “a lot of energy,” he stills thinks of it as a small company his grandfather built.

“When you mention brands like Jameson, I know the master distiller personally. He is fifth generation, using the same tools his great-great-great-great grandfather used. So when I say this to my friends, well let’s try it. I think that is much more powerful than any given ad you will see.”

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