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Marketing a Business in Russia

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Marketing a Business in Russia

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Marketing a Business in Russia

The international transition of a business is more than just costs and procedures. It's more cultural acclimatisation than calculatory acumen. It's making sure your product or service fits the inclinations and idiosyncrasies of a nation; finding a way to culturalise your business in order to reap the same results your business has achieved domestically. This is accomplished through one simple step: effective marketing.

Marketing your business on indigenous soil is an art-form in itself; attempting to do it overseas is nigh-on miraculous. Countries may be becoming more heterogeneous, but the foundations of a culture rarely budge for anything: their sensitivities, traditions, humour, discourses, protocols are essentially unchanging and stubbornly unaccommodating. Therefore, the identity of your product or service needs to seamlessly fashion itself upon a nation, not the other way around, shoehorned in, hoping for the best.


Advertising and Sales promotions in Russia

There is room for pioneering. Most major western advertising agencies are active in Russia, domestic agencies are growing and improving; however, telemarketing and fax marketing to business customers is common but not effective and other direct marketing channels (catalogues, e-commerce and regular mail) are still in their infancy.

On the contrary traditional advertising media are well established in Russia and they work well, in particular for consumer goods. Television, print media, outdoor billboards, magazines, point-of-sale promotions and dispays, and free samples are widely used. Person-to-person direct marketing also works well (eg. with health and beauty products).

For industrial goods, trade shows and trade magazines are effective advertising methods.

As Russian advertising regulations are not well developed and advertising may be high. The competition of Russian products is fierce, and you will need to adapt your advertising to suit Russian culture.


Cultural Sensitivity

Cultural sensitivity and understanding of protocol is paramount to effective marketing. The intricacies of a nation its beliefs, even its superstitions can make or break your business. Know the market; immerse yourself in it. Never assume your marketing strategy will be transplantable to a foreign country. There is only a slim chance language will translate well. Anglophonic countries may be susceptible, but if your product or service plays on a quintessentially British characteristic or joke the chances are, it will not be well received.

As for other countries, don't bank on using the same strap-lines or gimmicks. Unless they are perfectly transitional, your product or service could suffer especially if it relies on humour.

Unless you are certain your product or service can sell itself on indigenous merits, it is probably wise to revise its selling-points for a foreign market. As always, however, only your own fastidious research can conclude this.

Marketing in Russia needs a strong cultural adaptation. The basis of the culture is different from the Western culture, in everyday life as in business. Collectivism in Russia takes the place of competition in the Western countries: a strong communal spirit is still reflected in Russian business practices today.

Severe climatic conditions have also meant that co-operation and collaboration, rather than competition, have been vital for survival. This sense of togetherness is one of the traits that distinguish Russians from many Westerners. Everybody's business is also everyone else's .

Russian collectivism dates back to the peasant farmers, who lived in agricultural villages known as 'mirs' or 'obschina' and worked together in an organised and self-managed community. This affinity for the group and the collective spirit remains today. It is seen in everyday life, for example most Russians will join a table of strangers rather than eat alone in a restaurant.

'Egalitarianism' underpins Russian social philosophy: individuals aim to the removal of inequity and promote an equal distribution of benefits. In Russian business terms, this equates to important strategies of equality, reciprocity and mutual advantage. Russians are very status conscious and believe in co-equals. A "deal" is often thought of from the perspective of equally shared benefit.

Russians are also proud people. They are patriotic and strong defender of the reputation of their country. They expect the rest of the world to admire Russia. They accept that their lives are difficult and pride themselves on being able to flourish in conditions that others could not.

Some more bites of cultural training in Russia:

  • It is considered bad luck to shake hands over a threshold and should be done either inside or outside.

  • When taking flowers as a gift you must only take an odd number.

  • If you leave something behind in Russia it means you're coming back.

  • In business negotiations Russians view compromise as a sign of weakness.

  • In Russia, the 'OK' symbol with the thumb and forefinger touching in a circle is considered very rude.

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