Identity and Individuality: Marketing in Russia’s New Urban Coffee Culture

As a vibrant, urban coffee culture emerges in cities like Moscow and St. Petersburg, brands and corporations need to adapt with evermore creative approaches to resonate with consumers’ values of identity and individuality. This article is about more than just coffee! It’s about coffee culture!

Since the 16th century, coffee has made early mornings, long days, and often long nights, all the more palatable. Some prefer a creamy latte, others like their coffee black and strong. The truth is that we all have our individual preferences, resulting in a very specific concept of the perfect cup of coffee.

Looking at the right device to produce the perfect brew however, one thing becomes immediately apparent: in today’s market, the options are vast and diverse! Everything is possible. From a $10 stove-top caffettiera to a $5,000 fully automatic bean-to-cup machine that comes with an app for your smartphone. The reason for this extensive consumer choice is a growing market.

By 2020, the global market for electric household appliances as a whole is projected to reach 1.5 billion units. A growth driven by factors such as technological innovations and the resulting demand in replacing obsolescent units as well as a rising affluence of middle class populations in growing markets.

The New Urban Coffee Culture in Russia

So, what is so special about Russia? In the 144 mio. strong federation, two important aspects, one of economic the other of cultural significance, coincide. Firstly, the fact that amongst the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China), Russia has the most prosperous urban middle class; despite recent political and economic isolation. About 73% of its population lives in urban settings and accounts for 85% of the purchasing power.

Secondly, there is a new urban coffee culture emerging in the cities of the world’s largest nation. Especially in vibrant metropolises like Moscow or St. Petersburg, an increasing number of specialised shops for freshly roasted coffee beans pop up.

Why? Russians are advocates of basing coffee on espresso. The Italian way. Instead of having pre-defined blends of ready ground coffee or pods, consumers want to have the individuality to choose the best blend of loose beans, then freshly ground them and create the perfect espresso base.

Expressing Identity

Cultured Russian Coffee DrinkerWithin the category of espresso machines, there is one type that resonates with the new urban coffee culture more than others. Bean-to-cup machines enable the consumer to get hands on with the coffee-making process. A premium product for individualists. Consumers can shop around for their perfect individual blend of loose coffee. No need to comply with a pre-made coffee pod off the shelve. Here we can see consumer choice as a cultural declaration of identity.

What, if anything, has marketing to do with culture though? The answer is: everything! For too long, marketers have merely relied on the science part of their discipline. Simplifying a complex world by disregarding cultural context and changes over time is not cutting it anymore. It is impossible for brands to directly speak to their consumers. It is always through the medium of culture.

In the Harvard Business Review, Gartner analysts Jake Sorofman and Andrew Frank recently stated: “Marketing leaders must remember that true brand intelligence lives at the intersection of head and heart, where the emotional self meets the analytical self”. Corporations cannot ignore what is going on outside the company walls.

Manufacturers such as the Italian major market player De’Longhi take this into account and show how it is possible to cash in on both the emerging urban coffee culture in Russia as well as the interconnected market growth of premium range coffee machines. How? By offering the same appeal of culture when incentivising their products; with a travel incentive that resonates with the consumer’s culture of individuality and identity.

Travel Incentives in Russia

De’Longhi’s Russia branch partnered up with UK based marketing agency Inspire to deliver an effective and powerful free-flight campaign for the Russian market. If a consumer buys one of De’Longhi’s selected bean-to-cup machines in participating retail stores, the purchase is rewarded with a free return flight to a wide range of destinations across Russia, Europe and Asia.

The collaboration with Inspire makes sense. The agency has a proven track record of running a whole range of successful free-flight sales promotion campaigns in Russia. In the past, it already helped Phillips to sell top-of-the-range TVs to Russian consumers. The campaign turned into the most successful sales promotion for Phillips Russia until then. All promotional TV units in retail were sold out. A similar campaign for Samsung’s Galaxy S6 effected a sales increase of 61%.

The bottom line is: free-flight campaigns work for businesses! Why? Because they work for consumers and meet them at the intersection of head and heart!

Have a look at the full case study on the Fly away with De’Longhi campaign and get in touch to learn more about how Inspire can help your business grow. Get your piece of the cake now!

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