New survey reveals purchasing behaviors of complex Russian consumers
16 December, 2013
Preference for domestic brands and high esteem for Western products, Russians want value for their money but don’t like “budget” products
Many Russian consumers don’t care for luxury products, spend lots on food, and 84 percent believe service in Russia is worse than the Western world
— Findings from a new consumer survey fielded in Russia paint the picture of a very complex, highly nuanced consumer marketplace — one where consumers spend more on food than they do on rent or utilities, and where more than half the population is uneasy about purchasing clothes online. Released today, results of the inaugural Russian Consumer Report 2014 conducted by Landor Associates, one of the world’s leading strategic branding and design firms, uncovers dynamic and instructive traits and behaviors of a previously shrouded population.
As the world prepares to train its eyes on the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, the faces in the stands and on the streets may seem different—and they will be. The report reveals that Russian consumers prefer to buy Russian, but that domestic companies are failing to deliver. Almost half (45 percent) believe that Russian brands understand what’s right for Russians better than Western brands do. While Russians feel that native brands are better placed to meet many of their needs, international brands continue to outperform on key metrics like innovation, prestige, style, and quality.
Emma Beckmann, country director of Landor’s Moscow office, said, “We launched the Russian Insights Program in order to better understand the dynamics of the Russian market and the results we have found are illuminating. The stereotypes of Russians, ravenous for Rolexes, formed during the 1990s have long since receded. Today, the Russian consumer is a far more complex proposition. Our respondents have demonstrated that Russia remains a land of contrast and contradiction, where brand building is now more important than ever.”
Russian companies understand marketing well, but the idea of a brand — and by extension, loyalty to one — remains relatively new. Thirty-four percent of Russians say that they try out new brands most, or all of the time, and are not brand loyal. This doesn't mean brand loyalty doesn’t exist; it’s just higher in some categories than others, with electronic goods, cosmetics, and health and beauty — particularly with Western products — proving “sticky” for over half of Russians. There’s more testing, trying, and switching with fast-moving consumer goods; less than a third of consumers claim loyalty to a soft drink brand, and only a quarter stay with the same snack brands. When asked which categories Russians were most likely to choose other labels for, groceries, clothing, health and beauty, cleaning, snacks, and soft drinks came out on top.
Other findings from the survey include:
- When purchasing food, Russians prefer high-quality products to processed foods; 76 percent of respondents say they are willing to pay more for quality, while 90 percent say they prefer to purchase domestic food and dairy products.
- Thirty-seven percent of Russians make an online purchase at least once a month, but Internet spending is still lagging behind Western nations, with only 45 percent of Russians preferring to buy at physical stores.
- Russian service has long been the butt of jokes, and yet, 54 percent of Russians think service is improving, although it still lags behind Western standards. Eightyfour percent think that service in their country is worse than in Western Europe, and 37 percent consider Russian service “much worse.”
- Russians have an aversion to the words “cheap” and “budget” when shopping. Consumers’ reaction to questions concerning how comfortable they felt buying a budget brand was overwhelmingly negative; fewer than 20 percent of respondents gave low-cost brands a “yes” in most cases. Products for children, cosmetics, and shoes, among others, performed poorly.
- Contrary to the perceptions that Russians love premium and luxury brands, only 17.5 percent of respondents have a preference for them.
Landor Associates conducted the Russian Consumer Report 2014 from 1 October 2013 to 1 November 2013 with 2,000 respondents representative of the population. The survey probes into aspects of service, brand advocacy, spending and purchasing, e-commerce, brand loyalty, and even social values, among other topics. For a copy of the report, please direct your readers to RussianInsights@landor.com
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Landor is a strategic brand consulting and design firm, employing 800 professionals in 25 offices in 19 countries. Founded in San Francisco by Walter Landor in 1941, Landor Associates is a pioneer in integrated development and management of brands. For more than 70 years Landor has been an inspiring global innovator in the areas of brand strategy, brand design, and brand communications, and has worked with a number of leading international brands and companies like BlackBerry, Citibank, Citroën, Diageo, Ernst &Young, FedEx, Microsoft, and PepsiCo. Landor is part of WPP, the world’s largest communications services group. You can find more information about Landor at Landor.com