A new generation of Russians changing the workplace

You must have noticed them if you take the subway: Aged between 20-30, white earphones on, boys with ruffled hair stylishly laid over forehead with occasional stubble, or well-groomed girls with multi-color nail polish on each finger wearing work-like outfit New generatbut standing out with an accessory, backpack or a hairpin. From outside you wouldn’t even understand that they are going to work, however these young people make up the new generation that is changing the Russian business world as we know it.

Who are they? The new generation of Russians. Those who were born after the 1980’s, are now filling up the desks, not shy to put a personal mark to workplace with their individuality. Even though they are more friendly than their committed and serious parents, unfortunately hard work is not always a virtue for them. Continue reading

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How to lead Russian organizations to peak performance

The Russian business is made up of complete mosaic with its short history of only 20 years. A new generation of promising young Russians are joining an older workforce whose adult working life was marked by the fall of communism. In addition to this, Russia continues to attract foreign investment due to its huge economy, growing consumer markets and highly trained work force. As a result, many foreign executives (expats) are still flocking to the country. Here is a questionperformance that many of them struggle with: How can I lead the Russian organizations to peak performance? It is no secret that it is often a challenge for expats to adapt to Russian business and organizational culture, even in multi-national companies. So is it possible to rally a Russian organization to success, despite being an expat? After 8 years of working with Russian people, my answer is a definitive “Yes”. However, to accomplish this, one must understand the values of Russians that were shaped by their unique history.

Many people generalize the challenge of understanding the Russian business culture to the outlasting effects of communism. While this is not untrue, it is an overly simplified explanation and offers no insights to the solution.  Continue reading

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Why do Russians buy luxury?

Russia is among the biggest markets in terms of luxury consumption. Explaining this phenomenon with the number of billionaires would be an oversimplification. Although it appeared with capitalism, one needs to study the history of Russia to understand the reasons.

Luxury consumption actually started in Soviet Union (SU). While everyone had to buy the same products, a limited group of people, connected to the communist party (nomenclature) who were “more even” than the others, could access luxury products. While the norm was to be modest and avoid show-off, this minority wore expensive fur  coats, jewelry and drove expensive cars. In contrast, furaverage citizens were struggling with the deficit on one-type consumer products, due to centrally run economy. In 1991, with the collapse of the SU and the wild transition to capitalism, income inequality, number of ultra rich and poor exploded, while the western products flooded the country. After years of deficit, the rich and the ultra rich, who emerged out of privatization chaos, heavily spent on luxury to differentiate themselves from the others. The country, where the modesty was a national virtue, turned into motherland of show-off culture. Continue reading

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How to win with the Russian consumers?

Despite its 1.86 Trillion dollar GDP and 9th ranking in world economy, Russian market continues to be a challenge for many brands. Russia caught the hyper growth after 2000 thanks to political stability and increasing oil prices. As a result, consumers, rewarded the first Western brands such as McDonalds, Nike, Microsoft, after years of limited choice. Despite the fact that the economy slowed down after 2008, Russian market still continues to offer big opportunities for brands. Here are some recommendations for Expat Brand Managers who want to win in Russia:

Do not forget the fact that Russians are extremely sophisticated: Russians, of whose population’s 60% are university graduates, yearned for even the simplest consumer products before 2001’s when the BRIC terminology came into agenda.  However, fast entrance of the multinational companies in the past 20 years, have closed this gap. Today, being a brand is “necessary” yet not “sufficient” condition. Brand managers have to do extensive research to understand the fast changing Russian consumers and find out the most important aspects of their brands to convince them. Continue reading

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How to lead experts when you are not one?

So you’ve got the dream Brand Manager role or just been assigned to lead the coolest multi-functional marketing project. It is high profile and rich in resource, be it funding or manpower. But there is one problem. You have to work with the most notorious sales guy involved in this project. He is also Leading expertsinvolved because this is his area of expertise thanks to his long years in the company. And…. let’s say he is not the biggest fan of your type: marketing hotshot in mid twenties. How will you lead him to achieve outstanding results? In other words, how will you lead the experts when you are not one of them?

The situation is common for most of us who go through the ranks of brand management, who are expected display leadership early on in their career. To cope with these responsibilities, Brand Managers are chosen among high profile marketing talent and put through a competitive and meritocratic system to develop in “up or out” career systems. Yet, not all departments have the same fast track and junior leader – senior functional partner tension is almost unavoidable. Moreover, it is seen as a test by top management for Brand Managers to overcome these barriers, so learning them early in your career is key. Here are few tips to lead experts, when you are not one of them:       

Don’t be intimidated by experts: Respect the expertise Continue reading

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What is Real Time marketing?

Real time marketing is a new concept driven mainly by the expansion of social media and the opportunity to interact with consumers individually real time. While the concept is self explanatory, it is not clear how to do it. Here is a great story to learn about real time marketing and activate it for your brand.

On March 31st, 2008, Canadian folk musician Dave Carroll was on a United Real Time Marketing - Star Brand ManagerAirlines (UA) plane waiting to take off, when he got startled because of another passenger sitting few rows behind him: “Oh my god, they are throwing guitars”. He immediately knew it belonged to him and looked through the window only to confirm this fact. It was true. Ground crew was throwing expensive guitars to place them in the plane. He immediately complained to the plane crew, yet they directed him to the ground crew who directed him to the final destination ground crew as it was a connected flight. When he finally received his Taylor brand guitar, it was damaged. Continue reading

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Digital tips for Brand Managers

Brand Managers (BM) continue to be the key engines of the marketing world. However, are these single-brand focused, TV and print advertising driven, one sided communication masters, ready to face the digital earthquake happening today?Digital Tips Star Brand Manager
Neil McElroy (26), the bright marketer working in Procter & Gamble, probably did not know that he would change the marketing world in the following 80 years when he was proposing the establishment of the BM in 1931. Until recent history, BM’s demonstrated to be active, dynamic, passionate young people who fell in love with their brand even if it was soap, knew every number of their brand by heart, tested the patience of their advertising agency by commenting on every single word of the TV advertising and displayed obsessive behaviors checking their friends’ bathroom only to understand which brands they use. Continue reading

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