How to Win With the Russian Shopper

How to Win With the Russian Shopper

By Maciej Przybysz, Vice President, Nielsen Russia and Northeast Europe

Brands and marketers have considered the Russian consumer goods market a major growth opportunity for years, but they have yet to fully realize it. The opportunity remains slightly elusive, partly because of the unique shopping behavior of Russian consumers. But understanding what drives this uniqueness is key in securing the loyalty of the Russian consumer.

A recent Nielsen study explored shopping habits and preferences in 12 countries across 17 fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) categories, and its results offer some actionable insights into how to win with Russian shoppers.

Keep it New, Assorted and Close to Home

While there is a perception that Russia is a conservative place, Russian shoppers actually love new products and innovations. More than three-fourths of Russian consumers (76%) in a recent Nielsen online survey report interest in trying new products. And they keep their eyes open for them. Thirty-eight percent of Russian respondents frequently notice new products on store shelves, well above the global average of 29 percent. In fact, 23 percent of Russians indicate that product variety is the most important factor in determining where to shop. FMCG manufacturers and retailers responded by launching almost 7,000 new products in 2012.

Even in this seemingly chaotic and dynamic environment, shoppers love their tried-and-true brands and exhibit strong brand loyalty. Many Russians know which brands they will purchase before they enter a store, and 43 percent are brand loyalists in most categories. Private-label store brands have had less success in Russia than many other markets—73 percent of respondents still don’t buy them. Marketers should capitalize on these habits by continuing to cultivate a sense of quality among their products. Retailers with store brands, meanwhile, should build their products into a coherent alternative brand rather than simply generic offerings.

Family remains important in Russian life, and it affects shopping habits. More than half (53%) of Russian consumers shop regularly for the whole family (compared with 45% globally). Comparatively, one-third (32%) of Russians shop only for themselves. Cultivating loyalty among all ages and generations should be a strategic priority for FMCG brands.

Think Short Term

The vast majority of Russians shop for products they intend to use in the short term. Only 5 percent shop with future buying intentions in mind—half the global average rate. One quarter of Russians shop to satisfy an immediate need, and half (47%) shop to buy things to use that day. Manufacturers should consider offering smaller package sizes and ready-to-eat options. Retailers should increase their express and to-go formats.

Make it Fun, Fast and Convenient

Russians largely see shopping as an unavoidable chore: 65 percent call it routine, compared with 53 percent globally. Only 16 percent of Russians consider shopping enjoyable, compared with 26 percent globally.

Improving the in-store experience could dramatically improve these perceptions. It could also drive more rubles at check-out (currently, in-store factors drive fewer sales in Russian than in other markets).

Creative and appealing store displays can soothe the stress of shopping and appeal to Russians’ positive feelings about new products. Of course, informative and friendly customer service is always a key to success. Shopper loyalty programs are gaining favor among Russian retailers, and for good reason. Consumers who don’t enjoy shopping may equate spending money as a pain point, but loyalty program rewards can win over some consumer hesitancy.

For more insights into the Russian consumer, click here.