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10 things marketers need to know about Russia

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A list of 10 things that marketers should keep in mind when they think about Russia; put together by Konstantin Pinaev, Head of Co-Creation at Thinktank International, London based qualitative …

A list of 10 things that marketers should keep in mind when they think about Russia; put together by Konstantin Pinaev, Head of Co-Creation at Thinktank International, London based qualitative research consultancy.

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  • 1. 10 THINGS MARKETERS NEED TO KNOW ABOUT RUSSIA er 20 years and the pennfor rbusiness for rov er 20 years and the ovRussia hassbeen o pe fo business fo it is often seen as aa been o Russia ha is long gone. But even now it is often seen asironncurtain is long gone. But even now d opaque political iro curtain ry – with its own alphabet an d opaque politicalbit tof aamyste ry – with its own alphabet an bi of mystestructure. structure. e to the differences, , sseasy to turn aablinddey e to thewishfrences ey In this context,t,it’ easy to turndeblin inator and it’ diffe ully In this contex vious common denominator and wishfully nom finddtheemost tob vious common Moscow) is neverthelesssa ob fin th mos sia (and especially Moscow) is nevertheles a thinkkthat Rus sia (and especially thin that Rpe.us ro pe. bit tlikeeEu ro bi lik Eu ead of Co-creation at at ev, ,our rMoscow-bornnH ead of Co-creation H tantin Pina ev ou Moscow-bor ings that marketers Kons tantin Pina Kons a list of 10 th in that marketers Thinktank, put ttogether a list ofthink abgs t Russia. pu together n they 10 Thinktank, in mind whe th ou t Russia. should keep in mind when they think abou should keep
  • 2. #1 Russians are still in a brand new world. #1 Russians are still in a brand new world.Brands in the way we understand them in the West did not exist in Russia Brands in the way we understand them in the West did not exist in Russiauntil the early 1990s. A tranche of consumers still remember the days when until the early 1990s. A tranche of consumers still remember the days whenthere were no ads or brands. there were no ads or brands.That means that the picture has yet to settle; the brand universe is far more That means that the picture has yet to settle; the brand universe is far moredynamic, heritage is often slender and reputations are easily lost and won. dynamic, heritage is often slender and reputations are easily lost and won.What’s more, the consumer is more fickle and harder to hold on to. What’s more, the consumer is more fickle and harder to hold on to.#2 Moscow is another country. #2 Moscow is another country.It’s fair to say that London is not the UK; New York is not the US and Paris It’s fair to say that London is not the UK; New York is not the US and Parisis not France. It would be even fairer to say that Moscow is not Russia. is not France. It would be even fairer to say that Moscow is not Russia.Here the differences really are huge: income levels are multiple times Here the differences really are huge: income levels are multiple timeshigher and habits and media consumption are nothing like the rest of the higher and habits and media consumption are nothing like the rest of thecountry. country.#3 Don’t underestimate local competitors. #3 Don’t underestimate local competitors.You’ll also be surprised by just how strong local champions can be. You’ll also be surprised by just how strong local champions can be.What’s the most popular search engine? It’s Yandex (Google is way What’s the most popular search engine? It’s Yandex (Google is waybehind). behind).What is the most popular social network? It’s ‘VKontakte’ (‘in contact’). What is the most popular social network? It’s ‘VKontakte’ (‘in contact’).Facebook is not even the second –– it is way behind ‘Odnoklassniki’ Facebook is not even the second it is way behind ‘Odnoklassniki’(‘Classmates’). (‘Classmates’).
  • 3. #4 Russians consume conspicuously. #4 Russians consume conspicuously.As in many developing markets, attitudes to consumerism are less As in many developing markets, attitudes to consumerism are lessconflicted than those in the West. It is important to remember that Russians conflicted than those in the West. It is important to remember that Russiansdid not have the pleasures of consumerist societies for over 70 years, so did not have the pleasures of consumerist societies for over 70 years, soaren’t apologetic or self-deprecating about material success and aren’t apologetic or self-deprecating about material success andaspirations: ifif youve got it, flaunt it! So should luxury brands try to be more aspirations: youve got it, flaunt it! So should luxury brands try to be moreunderstated? Of course not! understated? Of course not!#5 Young lifestages are very different. #5 Young lifestages are very different.In Russia, fitting consumers into life stages can be trickier. ‘Gap years’ do In Russia, fitting consumers into life stages can be trickier. ‘Gap years’ donot exist and most students live with their parents when they go to not exist and most students live with their parents when they go touniversity. People tend to move in together, get married and have kids university. People tend to move in together, get married and have kidsmuch earlier than in the West. Meanwhile, in aa booming economy, careers much earlier than in the West. Meanwhile, in booming economy, careerscan progress very rapidly, meaning social standing can be hard to pin can progress very rapidly, meaning social standing can be hard to pindown. So aa 25 year old can be a CFO - and be just as likely to be single as down. So 25 year old can be a CFO - and be just as likely to be single asto have three kids. to have three kids.#6 Young Russians rarely watch TV. #6 Young Russians rarely watch TV.IfIf you think it is tricky to target youth in the UK – it’s even harder in Russia. you think it is tricky to target youth in the UK – it’s even harder in Russia.Local terrestrial schedules there are heavily dominated by government Local terrestrial schedules there are heavily dominated by governmentpropaganda, TV remains analogue and is widely pitched at an older, propaganda, TV remains analogue and is widely pitched at an older,mainstream audience. This means that to not have a TV is now a hip mainstream audience. This means that to not have a TV is now a hiplifestyle choice, and young Russians (especially the affluent and educated lifestyle choice, and young Russians (especially the affluent and educatedurban audience) tend to say goodbye to their TV sets willingly. Besides, urban audience) tend to say goodbye to their TV sets willingly. Besides,with piracy being far more prevalent and monetized than itit is in the West, with piracy being far more prevalent and monetized than is in the West,the most popular TV shows and films are easily accessed online. the most popular TV shows and films are easily accessed online.
  • 4. #7 Fair trade? Never even heard of it! #7 Fair trade? Never even heard of it!Russia is also unusual in having had an imperial, but no obvious colonial Russia is also unusual in having had an imperial, but no obvious colonialpast. So the whole concept of Fair Trade and concerns or ‘liberal guilt’ past. So the whole concept of Fair Trade and concerns or ‘liberal guilt’about conditions in the developing world are often quite muted. This means about conditions in the developing world are often quite muted. This meansthat ethical or environmental claims tend to be missed or even that ethical or environmental claims tend to be missed or evenmisunderstood by many consumers. misunderstood by many consumers.#8 Russians buy in different ways. #8 Russians buy in different ways.ItIt would be easy to assume that living in a G8 country with a fairly high GDP would be easy to assume that living in a G8 country with a fairly high GDPper capita income would mean that people had bank accounts and be used per capita income would mean that people had bank accounts and be usedto online payments, but... as always Russia has its own way. The financially to online payments, but... as always Russia has its own way. The financiallyunstable 1990s and a number of bank collapses long undermined peoples unstable 1990s and a number of bank collapses long undermined peoplestrust in financial institutions. Even in 2012 Russia remains a cash or digital trust in financial institutions. Even in 2012 Russia remains a cash or digitalcash economy on a day-to-day basis. cash economy on a day-to-day basis.People can pay cash for anything - - including property and luxury cars. People can pay cash for anything including property and luxury cars.Online transactions are still more of an exception rather than a rule. Online Online transactions are still more of an exception rather than a rule. Onlineshops will deliver products by courier, who collect the cash from customers. shops will deliver products by courier, who collect the cash from customers.#9 Money on the other hand is more mobile. #9 Money on the other hand is more mobile.The underdeveloped banking system also means that mobile payments (by The underdeveloped banking system also means that mobile payments (bytexting and using stored value cards) are more common and more texting and using stored value cards) are more common and moresophisticated than they are in many Western markets. sophisticated than they are in many Western markets.Strong WiMax networks and free WiFi in most places also mean that the Strong WiMax networks and free WiFi in most places also mean that themobile Internet and mobile marketing are more advanced. mobile Internet and mobile marketing are more advanced.
  • 5. #10 Not the easiest consumer to study. #10 Not the easiest consumer to study.Russians - - culturally - were never asked for their opinion. Russia is still not Russians culturally - were never asked for their opinion. Russia is still nota market where consumers will easily ‘play the game’ and speak effortlessly a market where consumers will easily ‘play the game’ and speak effortlesslyabout their feelings about products or brands, setting aside the rational about their feelings about products or brands, setting aside the rationalanswers that can sometimes frustrate research buyers. answers that can sometimes frustrate research buyers.For this reason, marketers need to be mindful of how they approach For this reason, marketers need to be mindful of how they approachresearch, whom they target and what the best format for exploring a brand research, whom they target and what the best format for exploring a brandor campaign idea is. That’s where we come in. or campaign idea is. That’s where we come in.A few words about us. A few words about us.Thinktank is an international qualitative research Thinktank is an international qualitative researchconsultancy based in London. We pride ourselves on consultancy based in London. We pride ourselves onmarketing thinking inspired by real people and have marketing thinking inspired by real people and haveextensive knowledge of emerging markets (among extensive knowledge of emerging markets (amongthem, Russia!). them, Russia!).If you’d like to find out more about how we help our If you’d like to find out more about how we help ourclients in international markets, contact clients in international markets, contactkonstantin@thinktank.uk.com or find us at: konstantin@thinktank.uk.com or find us at:http://www.thinktank.uk.com/ http://www.thinktank.uk.com/http://www.thinktank-international.blogspot.co.uk/ http://www.thinktank-international.blogspot.co.uk/https://twitter.com/thinktank_int https://twitter.com/thinktank_int