Russian consumers spend more on food than they do on rent or utilities, and more than half the population is uneasy about purchasing clothes online according to the inaugural Russian Consumer Report 2014, conducted by Landor Associates, which paints a picture of a complex, highly nuanced consumer marketplace.
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. But 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.
Says Emma Beckmann, country director of Landor’s Moscow office, “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. A third (34 percent) of Russians say that they try out new brands most, or all of the time, and are not brand loyal.
According to Landor, 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.
But 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. Eighty-four 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.