Moscow Domodedovo airport, Departure Lounge….
The notion that good quality comes at a higher price is deeply entrenched in the Russian mind. The bargain coat may not seem such a bargain any more if it leaves you with frostbite. It is the more expensive one that’s going to keep you snug and warm through decades of harsh Russian winters.
Having enjoyed observing Russian consumers in action and listening to their lively discussions for the last couple of days, I’m – once again – fascinated by the uniqueness and richness of the Russian culture and more than ever convinced of the risks of translating “emerging market” into “market for lower cost products”.
Of course, Russian consumers want good value for money (don’t we all?). And of course, despite a strong and growing middle class, the buying power of many consumers is still limited, at least by Western standards. But, they certainly do not want cheap products. In fact, a low price immediately raises fears: Fears about quality and that paying little up-front means pay-back time later on.
Past experiences of queuing for poorly finished, undeserving products has – if anything – only reinforced the desire for good quality that lasts. Fortunately for Western brands, this is what they still are generally associated with.
Brands lucky enough to have earned Russian consumers’ trust should be watchful not to jeopardise this perception with specifically designed lower-end versions of their original products. At least not if lower-end means – or can be understood to mean – lower quality and less durability.
Instead, attractive offers as well as new product ideas that deliver affordable value – i.e. quality that lasts – play much more nicely to Russian desires.
Still, I didn’t buy a fur (as tempting as it may have been in the icy Moscovite winds even though it’s only just October). To me, no fur is a good one, not even an expensive one.
Author: Karin Heath