Innovation Inspiration: Russia Beyond Sochi

25 Jan 2014|jhall

This month we revisit Russia, the land of mushroom hunters, car dash cams and of course hosts to next month’s Winter Olympics. Brand Russia suffers from mixed perceptions, but what of Russia as a source of opportunity?

Getting its innovation mojo back
It’s amazing how Russian inventions have transformed the world. And yet, for a country of such scientific prowess, it’s now a laggard among the world’s most innovative nations. Whether it’s a fear of failing, problems translating research into commercial products or a mistrust of business dealings, homegrown innovation needs a shot in the arm.

The times, they are a-changing
On cue, Russia is making a big bet on a new Silicon Valley called Skolkovo. Like Shenzhen in China, Skolkovo will be a Special Economic Zone, and the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology will have a curriculum designed by MIT. All of this geared to increase opportunities for entrepreneurs, but also more favorable conditions for outside investors.

A quick word about Sochi
In a week’s time, the eyes of the world will be on Russia: and many brands will be showcasing their latest innovations. The Games are being promoted through, well… gamification. And following on from the first social media Games in 2012, engaging Russian sports fans will be all about Vkontakte, or VK for short.

Brand new world
Landor, a sister company, recently shared their findings on the complex, highly nuanced Russian consumer. Interestingly, “Russian companies understand marketing well, but the idea of a brand — and by extension, loyalty to one — remains relatively new.” That hasn’t stopped brands like Marks & Spencer from targeting Russia as their next big growth opportunity.

Russian millennials
In its report, ‘Meet the BRICs Millennials’, sister company JWT talks about Russian Millennials as the “least connected to outside cultures due to a lack of well-established patterns of studying, traveling and working abroad.” This may go some way to explaining why some unexpected brands are popular among this prized segment.

Russian beauty
Not only is Russia’s beauty market growing, Russians are becoming more familiar with its products and making smarter purchases. In December we blogged about the discerning Russian customer and the need for “brands to make sure their image is fresh and current to win in the retail environment.”

Retail revolution
Can you imagine checking out of a store and receiving a coupon based on your mood? Russian firm, Syngera, is behind this concept and others, like offering Amazon–like recommendations to in-store patrons. The “Amazonization of physical shops” is helping drive customers back into the store.

Top 10 & 20 lists
From social networks to travel to oil, here are the top 10 innovative companies in Russia. And here are 20 hot new start-ups that are leveraging big data, mobile and social networks to transform customer experiences.

Top 5 ways to win in Russia
Olga Menshikova, Deputy Managing Director of Added Value Russia, shares her top tips on how brands can win in this ever-changing market.

Ernst & Young’s attractiveness survey
“Shaping Russia’s Future”, Ernst & Young’s third Russia attractiveness survey, finds that, although it still faces some challenges, Russia remains an attractive destination for FDI.

Get in touch if you’d like to hear how Added Value can help you with disruptive innovation.

Written by Jonathan Hall, President, North America Consulting, Added Value

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