Russian consumer behavior and online trends during winter holidays

Part 1: ringing in the New Year

How consumer behavior changes in Russia before the New Year celebrations

We wrote about New Year’s significance for Russians previously, monitoring the changes in consumer behavior and gift-giving trends. This year, we’ll publish a 2-part article on winter holidays consumer behavior in Russia, encompassing both consumer behavior before the New Year’s Eve celebrations, and consumer behavior during the holiday period following New Year’s Eve.

In the first article of the series, we’ll compare data gathered by Nielsen Russia on retail behavior (read in Russian here) to Yandex survey results on gift preferences for 2019 (available in Russian here), as well as present an overview of retail spending trends leading up to New Year’s Eve.


Winter holidays consumer behavior in Russia in 2019: gift-giving

For a primer on how Russians celebrate New Year’s Eve and Christmas, you can refer to this article.

Nielsen survey results on customer behavior show that generous gift-giving traditions remain alive and well:

  • 71% of respondents plan to buy a gift for their significant other
  • 68% will gift their parents
  • 52% plan to buy gifts for their friends

The most popular gift categories are as follows:

  • boxed chocolate candy (15% of respondents)
  • clothing, shoes, and accessories (14% of respondents)
  • toys (11% of respondents)
  • interior decorations and household items (9% of respondents)

Interestingly, 38% of the respondents also plan to buy something for themselves, spending a significant part of their New Year’s celebration budget on this treat (almost twice as much as in 2018, ₽10,000). Here are the most popular gift categories:

  • clothing, shoes, and accessories (26%)
  • gadgets (14%)
  • household electronics (10%)
  • interior decorations and household items (10%), and
  • jewelry (9%)

According to a recent Yandex survey on gift preferences and holiday behavior (available in Russian here), men and women prefer different types of holiday gifts.

For men, the top 3 answers are:

  • money (38% in 2017, 34% in 2018)
  • large presents (18% in 2017, 16% in 2018)
  • don’t know (20% in 2017, 19% in 2018)

Women appear to be more specific in their preferences for gifts:

  • jewelry (42% in 2017, 37% in 2018)
  • money (33% in 2017, 34% in 2018)
  • gift certificates (29% in 2017) or perfume (26% in 2018)


You can take a look at which gifts were popular in 2017 in this Russian Search Marketing article.

Read about the 2018 gifts in this post. Plus, the latter article contains some suggestions on optimizing your ad campaigns for the holiday season.


Changes in consumer behavior for FMCG purchases during winter holidays

According to the Nielsen survey, 68% of the survey participants plan to celebrate the holidays with their families. In a Yandex survey on New Year’s Eve plans, the numbers of Russian respondents preferring to celebrate at home was more modest at 49%.

At any rate, New Year’s Eve celebrations in Russia are an occasion to ring in the new year in style. According to the Nielsen report referenced above, budgets for food and beverages for the New Year’s Eve celebration are also quite high: most respondents plan to spend ₽10,000 on food and beverages.

According to Marina Volkova, analytics and consulting director at Nielsen Russia,

“[i]n the period before the New Year’s holidays consumer habits change across multiple categories. Each of those changes creates many lucrative advertising opportunities. Demand grows, retailers stock up on popular items, and price elasticity decreases. … Respondents claim that they are ready to spend more to make their nearest and dearest happy, even though 69% of Russian consumers try to save money throughout the rest of the year.”

Here’s the breakdown of the most popular product categories during the period leading up to the New Year’s Eve celebrations, according to the Nielsen Russia report:

  • fruit and vegetables (93% of respondents)
  • cheese (89% of respondents)
  • fresh meat, fish, and poultry (87% of respondents)
  • processed meat products (81% of respondents)

Demand increases during the last week of December, with most of the purchases made between 12/24 and 12/28.

December is also a great month for alcohol sales: 30% of yearly champagne sales (by volume) and 22% of yearly sparkling wine sales (by volume).

According to the Nielsen Russia report, 84% of respondents plan to greet the new year with either champagne or sparkling wine. Wine and vodka also stay strong: 59% and 40% of respondents plan to buy those beverages, respectively.

As far as non-alcoholic beverages are concerned, the top 3 are:

  • fruit juices – 77%
  • carbonated beverages – 50%
  • mineral water – 44%


Online searches and online behavior before the New Year’s holidays: Yandex research

According to Yandex online user behavior research, the following “holiday-themed” searches leading up to New Year’s Eve have been the most popular in 2019:

  • Games
  • Recipes
  • Movies
  • Movie theaters
  • “Where to go…?”
  • Lotteries
  • Fitness
  • Travel tours
  • Horoscopes
  • Dating sites
  • Taxi
  • Cartoons
  • Concerts
  • Museums
  • Food delivery from restaurants


In the month leading up to the winter holidays, the following topics are of interest to Russian internet users:

  • New Year celebrations for kids
  • Toys
  • Kitchen textiles
  • Gift shops
  • Layaway cards
  • Recipes
  • Banks
  • Household appliance stores
  • Supermarkets
  • Taxi



In our next article we’ll see how online search queries change during and after the January holidays.