What marketers should know about Russia
Russia has been ‘open for business’ for over 20 years but is still often seen as a bit of a mystery, complete with its own alphabet and an opaque political structure. That has spurred Konstantin Pinaev, Moscow-born head of co-creation at Thinktank, to compile a list of 10 things marketers really ought to bear in mind when they think about Russia.
Well, for one thing, he says, brands in the way we understand them in the West did not exist in Russia until the early 1990s. That means the brand universe is very 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.
And he adds that many people will be surprised by just how strong local champions can be. The most popular search engine? Yandex (Google is way behind). Most popular social network? It’s VKontakte (‘in contact’). Facebook is not even the second and is way behind Odnoklassniki (‘Classmates’).
In Russia, fitting consumers into life stages can be tricky. ‘Gap years’ do not exist and most students live with their parents when they go to university. People tend to move in together, get married and have kids much earlier than in the West. And, in a booming economy, careers can progress very rapidly, meaning social standing can be hard to pin down. So a 25-year-old can be a CFO – and is just as likely to be single as to have three kids.
It’s also pretty tricky to target youth in Russia. Local terrestrial schedules are heavily dominated by government propaganda, television remains analogue and is widely pitched at an older, mainstream audience. Now owning a TV is now a hip lifestyle choice, and young Russians (especially the affluent and educated urban audience) tend to say goodbye to their TV sets willingly. Besides, with piracy being far more prevalent and monetised than it is in the West, the most popular TV shows and films are easily accessed online.