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Monday, November 05, 2012

10 things marketers need to know about Russia: fair trade, cash, mobile and market research

This is the last blog post in our '10 things about Russia' series. To read the previous 6 insights, please click here.

#7 Fair trade? Never even heard of it!
Russia is also unusual in having had an imperial, but no obvious colonial 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 that ethical or environmental claims tend to be missed or even misunderstood by many consumers.

#8 Russians buy in different ways.
It would be easy to assume that living in a G8 country with a fairly high GDP per capita income would mean that people had bank accounts and be used to online payments, but... as always Russia has its own way. The financially unstable 1990s and a number of bank collapses long undermined people's trust in financial institutions. Even in 2012 Russia remains a cash or digital cash economy on a day-to-day basis.

People can pay cash for anything - including property and luxury cars. Online transactions are still more of an exception rather than a rule. Online shops will deliver products by courier, who collect the cash from customers.

#9 Money on the other hand is more mobile.
The underdeveloped banking system also means that mobile payments (by texting and using stored value cards) are more common and more sophisticated than they are in many Western markets.

Strong WiMax networks and free WiFi in most places also mean that the mobile Internet and mobile marketing are more advanced.

#10 Not the easiest consumer to study.
Russians - culturally - were never asked for their opinion. Russia is still not a market where consumers will easily ‘play the game’ and speak effortlessly about their feelings about products or brands, setting aside the rational answers that can sometimes frustrate research buyers.

For this reason, marketers need to be mindful of how they approach research, whom they target and what the best format for exploring a brand or campaign idea is. That’s where we come in.

We hope you enjoyed our 10 things that marketers should know about Russia. Hopefully it is no longer a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.

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