What to consider when entering the Russian market

As one of the largest in the world, the Russian build and interiors market is full of opportunities for international manufacturers and suppliers of products and materials.

Following the recent financial crisis, new major investments and modernisation programmes are on course to return the sector to growth.

Demand for new housing and infrastructure in Russia is high nationwide as the population grows and the need to replace Soviet-era housing blocks intensifies. This is where international suppliers of building and finishing materials come in. Not only is there high demand for innovative materials, but the quality of foreign brands, particularly European, is highly valued and sought after in Russia.

Russia presents both significant opportunities and challenges for international suppliers and exporters, and entering a new market can be a daunting prospect. Many international firms are thriving in Russia but they all had to start somewhere. Here we offer guidance on some of the key aspects to bear in mind when entering the Russian market.

Find the right partner

There are many well-established international firms on the Russian market that have representative offices and localised production. But the first stage is to start exporting your products to Russia to test the waters.

Key to this is finding a trusted local distributor or dealer to handle the logistics. Spanning 11 time zones, Russia’s geography is not something to be taken lightly, which is why working with an experienced distributor with local knowledge is vital.

Andrew Christopher, Director of Construction and Forestry Equipment in Russia and the CIS for agricultural and construction machinery manufacturers John Deere, attributes much of the firm’s success to its dealer network. Finding reliable business contacts has enabled the company to expand as it’s given them a solid base on which to build, he told Stroitelstvo.ru.

Network face-to-face

Meeting face-to-face is an important part of business in Russia. It is the best way to forge strong relationships to help your business grow and mitigate any problems.

Speaking to Forbes, Spanish bathrooms company Roca said strong relationships were “very important for us when we first arrived ten years ago.”

The best way to meet partners is at trade exhibitions. International surface finishes manufacturer Armourcoat told us; “Our products are best demonstrated at trade shows. Whilst we place great emphasis on our web presence, with the world economy rapidly improving, exhibitions are gaining momentum again. You can’t beat meeting personally and directly with your target audience. People buy from people. From an international perspective, meeting principals from the organisation and discussing creative projects and design concepts provides added assurance and customer confidence.”

Focus on quality and innovations

Competing on quality is paramount on the Russian market. International brands are highly-valued for their premium quality and respected for their cutting-edge innovations. Good-quality building materials are often preferred over those at a lower price point, particularly those that can withstand Russia’s winter weather.

Window profile manufacturer Profine, which produces the brands KBE, KÖMMERLING and TROCAL, has been operating on the Russian market for many years. Speaking to Stroitelstvo.ru, General Director Jan-Gerd Vos said the company has its own principles, the most important of which is a high level of product quality. “Our profiles not only comply with GOST Russian State Standards, they are manufactured according to European standards, including German standards.”

Think long-term 

Russia is not a market for quick and easy wins. It has experienced an economic downturn in recent years, but currency fluctuations are nothing new to the country.

French firm Alstom has long been operating in Russia and one of the aspects helping them succeed is patience, according to Philippe Pegorier in a recent interview in the Moscow Times. He mentioned the fact that Russia has seen off harder times than these and that the short-term difficulties would pass. In fact, Russia’s economic state has allowed the company to succeed: “Thanks to the growth of the middle class, modernisation of infrastructure and so on, it is clear that Russia is developing.”

So give it time, it may take at least a couple of years to settle in to the market.

Enter the market with MosBuild 2019

One of the most valuable ways to get a head start in entering the Russian build and interiors market is at MosBuild. Russia’s largest exhibition of building and finishing materials, it’s where the entire industry gathers each year to discover new products, make connections, and share industry insight.

MosBuild is a key tool in finding local distributors. With a visitor audience from 83 regions of Russia, it means you only have to be in one place to meet regional distributors.

It’s also the best place to present your products to a professional audience looking for new and innovative materials. Test demand and get honest feedback from over 65,000 professionals who really know the market.

Last year, exhibitor Eurodecor told us; “The show was busy, even better than last year – we couldn’t even accommodate all the visitors interested in us. We over-achieved on what we planned and we’ll be bigger at MosBuild 2019 at Crocus Expo.”

Looking to enter the Russian market?

Contact us today to find out how MosBuild 2019 can help your business succeed in Russia.