Consumer Research

Almost all companies conduct consumer and competitor research programs in some form or other; however, in most cases they do not provide sufficient information for creating a communications strategy, i.e. do not include an analysis of consumer stereotypes, prejudices, taboos and myths. To fill this information void we conduct the necessary research programs.

We implement a wide range of sociological and psychological methods of research. Company has also created a methodological center for new methods of marketing information collection and analysis.


In the framework of the research stage the following methods can be suggested: 

  • research of secondary information (overview or specific analysis of the market), 
  • a focus group with loyal clients, 
  • a focus group with clients of the competitors,
  • a focus group with potential clients,
  • expert and in-depth interviews, 
  • psycho-semantic research, 
  • eye-tracking.


Our Perspective on Market Research in Russia.

Kontakt-Expert specialists use generally accepted international methods of consumer study. However, market research experience in Russia shows that standard methods must be significantly adapted to ensure detailed research and psychological validity of studies.

In spite of the fact that western values and educational standards are quickly penetrating Russian society, the majority of the country’s population still perpetuates old-fashioned values. Corrupt traditional social institutes retain their influence, too, and even partially infect western businesses working in Russia.

Some traits of the Russian mentality including reticence, suspiciousness, reluctance to discuss political and economic issues, fatalistic attitudes (“nothing could ever be changed”), and a general prevalence of impulsive brand choices, create insurmountable obstacles for utilizing traditional marketing methods. As a result of uneven economic development and information dissemination, Russian consumers still retain a significant number of myths, stereotypes, prejudices and taboos.

Here are some examples obtained from in-depth methods of study.


In-depth interviews

The development of some market sectors in Russia, particularly for metal doors, plastic windows and air conditioners, significantly lagged behind the effective demand. At first glance, these products are united by their connection to home and making one’s home more secure and comfortable. However, in fact, for some time these products were primarily considered outward signs of wealth that would only invite burglars. Questionnaires indicated there were a certain number of people with sufficient income who would like to have these products; however, the reason they refused to buy them was a mystery.


Focus Groups

Note: The accounting profession in Russia involves far more competencies and responsibilities than in most western countries. This is a product of legislative instability in Russia.

A focus group comprised of accountants replied in their questionnaires that creativity and recognition is what they value most in their work, rather than salary or responsibility. At first glance such replies may seem odd, but the accountants do think that their work is creative because every day they must solve intricate problems associated with accounting transactions. The respondents took offence if their managers or other colleagues considered the accounting department to be a service function. Of course, this information is not a good basis for administrative decision making; however, it’s good groundwork for communications targeting products to this professional group.


Expert Interviews

Any person with plenty of experience in a given field can be a market expert. Sometimes waiters can tell you more than restaurant managers, sales assistants more than store owners, and consumers more than producers. We often start analyzing a situation from long talks with sales assistants and front-line personnel.



Russian consumers are reluctant to disclose information about their income since quite often they have unreported income to avoid taxes. For example, in order to estimate consumer demand and the price category for a new store to be built in a given district, analysts must photograph residents’ houses to determine their social status and general well-being based on the number of newly installed windows and split air conditioners.


Quantitative Methods

Quantitative methods practically do not work in Russia. Quantitative research is primarily requested by large western corporations that use results as a management tool to support their positions or to comply with internal standards.

In most cases, Russian interviewers have minimal professional qualifications, and respondents, as previously noted, tend to evade many important issues or refuse to participate in a survey altogether.

Even media surveys fail to produce reliable results. As for media advertising budgets, one should not trust this information at all.


Mystery Shopping

In one of our projects, mystery shoppers were evaluating service quality for ophthalmologists at eyeglass chain stores. Some doctors did not give clients cash register checks for the eye examination while others failed to notify customers of their charges. It is unfair to blame doctors who dutifully render diagnostic services, however their lack of sales skills is damaging the business. We recommended product sales training for the ophthalmologists.

Sometimes, however, mystery shopping may involve criminal issues. As a rule mystery shopping is used to evaluate personnel sales skills, however some other “skills” may also be also revealed in the process such as stealing (e.g. salespeople stealing products) or illegal practice (e.g. doctors servicing hospital patients outside the hospital and misappropriating the money).



In one of our wine branding projects we conducted a “blind” hall-test. Respondents evaluated several brands of wine, the price of which varied from 80 to 700 rubles per bottle. A flavored wine (for which production is currently prohibited) was the most preferred. The hall-test shows that most consumers know very little about wines and choose them by price or brand; had they chosen by taste, they would have picked a cheaper drink.