At first glance, the contradictory demands and expectations of Russian consumers can seem daunting. But winning their trust can reap huge rewards, as Russians are known for their brand loyalty. Here’s how to cultivate a successful brand identity in Russia.

RUSSIAN CONSUMERS AT HOME: KEY CHARACTERISTICS

1. Culture of saving and spending

Russians are not savers. On average, they spend around 80% of their income (source: Santander) and do not trust the bank to look after their hard-earned cash. The more durable and valuable a product is, the more appealing it will be to Russian consumers.

As a result, shopping in Russia is focused on needs rather than desires in a much greater way than in more affluent economies. Spending power is relatively low for many consumers, so the concept of ‘retail therapy’ is often unattainable. Instead, consumers are looking to maximize their investment. Therefore, international brands need to market themselves in terms of reliability and value.

Russian skepticism toward saving also leads to a high number of short-term purchases. They want to exercise their spending power now before any more economic disasters hit and will invest in luxury when possible. Because they’re quality-conscious and think short term, be sure to emphasize the value of your offering.

2. Post-crash economics

After the 2008 crash, the value of the ruble crashed, driving prices up and reducing the emerging middle class’ spending power. As a result, consumers who would previously purchase goods abroad are now focused more on Moscow and St. Petersburg as retail centers. Local brands that offer flexible pricing have an advantage over their global counterparts – they don’t have to balance Russian economic conditions with external pressures, and can, therefore, quickly appeal to current levels of disposable income.

Present your international brand as a wise investment and/or worthwhile luxury lifestyle component, and you’ll appeal to their needs.

3. Brand loyalty

Russians are very loyal to brands once they’ve become customers, such as in the Russian eCommerce market. If you earn a Russian consumer’s trust by having a reliable and valuable brand, they’re likely to keep coming back for more. High scamming rates in Russia have also caused consumers to stick with brands that provide high-quality service, which means you can gain long-term leads.

4. Family values

When marketing to Russians, it’s important to consider the power that family influence has on Russian consumers’ purchasing decisions. Just over 50% of Russian consumers regularly shop for their entire family (8% more than the global average), while just a third shop for only themselves.

That’s why you should tap into this family dynamic using a wider marketing campaign that reaches all household demographics.

5. Personalized service

Russians like to be able to speak to someone when making purchases online to reduce the risk of being scammed. Communication between sellers and buyers in post-sales support is crucial and commonplace in Russia. Thus, contact centers are a must, and providing phone numbers and web chats will grow your customers’ confidence.

Russia has low English proficiency, so customer relations should be in Russian, which means hiring local communications teams. It’s also highly advisable to translate all web pages and product descriptions and display the price in rubles. Minimal consumers are willing and able to interact in English and convert from dollars.

Leveraging various Russian social media platforms can also help you engage with Russian consumers on a personal level, as well as increase communication channels between you and your customers.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Russian consumers can be a hard sell. They’re highly conscious of price, value and brand reputation, and will not readily shift brands just for the sake of novelty. They have limited disposable income and are not optimistic about the economic future of their country.

Once you successfully engage with a Russian consumer, however, it is very likely they will stick with your brand for years and also introduce their family and friends to it.