International Synergies: Monin syrup’s global strategy

While some companies may adapt and mould their product offerings to different markets, Cedric Clouzeau, Managing Director Asia for Monin, says the French syrup company has purposefully taken the opposite approach. When introducing a new flavoured syrup – which Monin does four to eight times a year – the company makes a point of promoting the new product across the 120 countries in which it has a presence worldwide. While the inspiration for the flavour may have been local, Clouzeau says Monin goes out of its way not to limit specific flavours to certain markets. “The flavours’ potential is not defined by a market, it’s defined by its applications… We launch flavours all over the world, we make no distinction between markets. But, we make sure that applications, such as smoothies, frappes, teas and so on, are in total accordance with what local consumers like to order,” he tells GCR. “While it’s important to find the right application, in the end we are creating our own potential.” The inspiration and creative process behind the makings of such a diverse and creative range of products, Clouzeau says, is the result of being so broadly spread around the world, with every market benefitting from the company’s globalisation. Every year, Monin does a survey speaking with local baristas and bartenders, asking them what flavours they would like to see introduced. They bring ideas to one of Monin’s development offices spread around the world for product development. The choice of office depends on the flavours in question, Clouzeau explains. As the company continues to maintain a strong focus on natural ingredients, the product development phase of the flavour will take place where the best local ingredients are available. For instance, if Monin is working on a vanilla-based flavour, it may develop the product with suppliers from Madagascar. Or, if Monin is looking for red berries, it may turn to its Italian counterparts. In increasing its global presence, Monin has been able to not only use local contacts for inspiration and market reach, but right back through to the research and development phases. “Naturally the more countries we work with, the more demand we receive,” says Clouzeau. “But also there is a lot more synergy in the company.” Compared to the century-old history of Monin, the role of syrups in the coffee industry is relatively new. Following the company’s founding in Bourges, France in 1912 by George Monin, it wasn’t until the 1970s that some clever baristas in the United States started adding syrups into the mix to launch the flavoured coffee phenomenon. “It’s a very American trend at its origins,” says Clouzeau. “And it’s one we saw catapult forward thanks to Starbucks. I can say that Monin clearly benefitted from this development, as the demand for syrups skyrocketed following this new trend.” In the past 15 years, he says flavoured coffees have spread in popularity in more established coffee drinking markets of the United Kingdom and Australia. As new coffee drinking countries have emerged on the market, every one, says Clouzeau, has taken a liking to the flavoured coffee trend.  “I don’t think there’s a country in the world where you can’t find a caramel latte,” he says. To support its global presence, Monin has gradually grown its international operations over the years, with that expansion speeding up in the past three decades. The start of its major international expansion was marked when the third and most recent generation of Monins, Olivier Monin, took control of the company in 1992. The following year, the company opened its Americas division, and in 1996 opened its first international manufacturing plant in the United States. In 2005, Monin opened an Asia office in Singapore, and in 2007 Monin MEI in Dubai. The year 2009 saw its fourth international plant open up in Kuala Lumpur, where Clouzeau is currently based. Today, export sales represent an impressive 80 per cent of the company’s total sales. Monin’s most recent partnership will see the company make a strong move into the Australian market, teaming up with Stuart Alexander as soon as 1 August. The two companies have worked together since 2010 in New Zealand. Clouzeau says the choice of where and when to set up an international office is all about supporting its distributors. Throughout its expansion, he says Monin has maintained its own focus on marketing and product development, and turned to partners to manage better distribution. Monin has maintained an international policy that in every market, they work only with partners who are granted exclusive distribution rights for their respective country. In seeking local businesses its can trust with good distribution networks, Clouzeau says that employing exclusivity arrangements helps the company concentrate on representing its branding. With the brand the ultimate key to success, Clouzeau says that limiting the number of distributors helps to concentrate its efforts in individual countries, which is important for a company spread so broadly around the world. This way, Monin can focus on product development to maintain the premium quality and creativity of its product. “Our expertise is not in distribution,” he says. “We only look to support our distributors. We believe that the key to success is in starting with the right flavours and applications, finding the right and motivated partner, and working in the right market.” 

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