Domestic or Foreign? Product Preferences in Russia

Russian internet users differ significantly from any other country and this along with other factors makes Russia a difficult market to define. When it comes to goods searched for and bought by Russians, the contradictory nature of opinions on both domestic and foreign products makes them notoriously difficult to target.

Foreign Products

At a first look, Russians tend to be more attracted to foreign products. The biggest reason for this is that they perceive foreign products to be of higher quality than comparable domestic products. The online market for foreign products may, therefore, be a desirable one for new entrants. However, there are stark contradictions in Russian opinions; although many perceive foreign products to be of higher quality, there is also some belief that foreign businesses offload inferior goods to Russians.

Domestic Products

Due to problems in the lack of quality of domestic products, Russians have often preferred to purchase foreign goods. However, a recent study of Russian consumers found that 45 percent believe that domestic brands understand Russians better. In particular, Russians favor home grown products within the food and drinks markets. This is believed to be for two reasons: firstly, they know where the products come from and believe home grown food and drink is more authentic; and secondly, it gives them a sense of loyalty to home grown products. Despite this preference in domestic products within these industries, there is still however some doubt in the perceived quality of these products.

Foreign Luxury Items

One thing is clear though, when it comes to luxury items, Russians prefer Western brands. As well as desiring imported goods, Russians tend to categorize products differently depending on the country of origin. For example, Italian products are viewed as fashionable, products made in Germany are thought to be more reliable and French products are often linked with romance. This highlights Russia’s preference for other European products, as the most searched luxury items are French or Italian, and the UK comes in fourth place.

Luxury items are the most successful foreign products in Russia. From watches or cars, to clothing or beauty products, the high perceived quality of these items has helped them gain popularity in the Russian market over their domestic counterparts.

New Entrants

Due to the apparent popularity of foreign products, some Russian brands have adopted Western sounding names to give them the same perceived value as the foreign equivalent. This has proven to be successful in both the fashion and technology industries. Interestingly, however, Western brands have entered the Russian food and drink industries through local traders with no clear association to the parent company. This highlights the importance of understanding Russian consumer preferences for domestic and foreign products, as these can vary greatly across different industries.

Russians can be difficult to target due to the inconsistency in their product preferences, however, for foreign entrants looking to penetrate the Russian market, they are likely to find success with luxury products. In contrast, home grown brands are most likely to have success in industries where the authenticity of the product is essential. With such a vast online audience and huge growth potential, understanding Russian purchasing habits may have enormous financial gains for current and prospective new businesses.