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Our new Russia Digital Market Landscape Report is the third in a series of trends briefings on the BRIC markets.

Like the Brazil and China editions released in 2012, this new report offers an overview for marketers and investors looking to Russia for new opportunities by bringing together direct input from those with knowledge of the market as well as a range of secondary sources.

There is much in this emerging market which is sure to appeal to marketers and investors…

With more than 60m internet users, Russia is the biggest internet market in Europe as well as one of the fastest growing. Mobile devices are massive, but the smartphone – and the online connectivity it affords – is yet to become as much a major player as it is soon likely to be. 

Online, Russians are social zealots. Consequently, the Social Media market thrives with domestic successes such as VKontakte and Odnoklassniki, while US imports such as Twitter, Facebook and LiveJournal also prove popular.

In economic terms, the country has been comparatively resilient in light of the Eurozone’s tumultuous climate in recent years. Russia also boasts an impressively low unemployment rate (5.2% in March 2013) and a public debt of less than 10% of its GDP.

But there is much to watch out for…

For many outside of the country, the Russian digital landscape is at once familiar and altogether quite different. It is an arena where brazen imitation and skilled innovation collides, with Facebook, Amazon, Groupon and Pinterest all boasting Cyrillic lookalikes.

In the ecommerce sector, many consumers are sceptical about whether they will even receive the products they order, and if they do that they will be of the quality promised by the store.

Consequently, a diverse range of payment options – from Cash-on-delivery, to mobile payments – is emerging to give customers more options and better piece-of-mind. And the ecommerce market is due some significant growth.

Additionally, Russia’s reputation for heavy state involvement in business, as well as past corruption and the thriving black market is something that can’t help be noticed by those interested in the country.

Yet, it seems the Russian government and the private sector are keen to change the dated notion that the market is unfriendly to innovation and start-ups, with a number of initiatives working to help new businesses.

A unique market

The Russian digital landscape is as complex as it is exciting. Its vast number of internet users and social media fans together with its massive domestic names such as Yandex and VKontakte make it seem as advanced as its European neighbours.

While the comparatively slow growth of ecommerce and smartphones in the region aligns it more closely to its BRIC peers.

As the country turns a corner in its digital history, it will be interesting to see whether its pros outweigh its cons to those who are considering approaching the market and what it has to offer.

Luke Richards

Published 29 July, 2013 by Luke Richards

Luke Richards is a freelance writer and a guest blogger on Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or check out his blog

58 more posts from this author

Comments (5)



An interesting and rare glimpse into Russian digital landscape. I can't help but wonder, it seems to share some similarities with China in many ways (its own search engine, copycat of social media sites and concern over e-commerce...), is this unique or common to most emerging markets?

about 3 years ago


Denis Bavykin, Owner / Consultant at Ars Numeralis

Hey, Luke, do you really trust this figure — «Russia also boasts an impressively low unemployment rate (5.2% in March 2013)»? There are too few unemployed people who register themselves officially.

about 3 years ago

Luke Richards

Luke Richards, Writer at FreelanceEnterprise

Hi AZ, I'd say Russia and China are pretty unique for having massive domestic search engines and social networks - sharing aspects of their landscape with both mature markets and emerging ones. Hi Denis, just checked the 5.2% unemployment rate (think I was originally going off a Russia Today article). This Trading Economics (http://www.tradingeconomics.com/russia/unemployment-rate) data shows the unemployment rate hovering between 5.2% and 6% over the past year - just wanted to offer it as a comparison to the UK (currently officially at 7.8%). Of course, I'd agree official numbers in both countries may be a little conservative.

about 3 years ago


Anna Oshkalo

Very nice summary Luke! I think it is also worth mentioning delivery issues in "But there is much to watch out for…" section. The country is huge, and, to be honest, there is no reliable and cost-effective way to ship orders to places outside St. Petersburg and Moscow. Russian companies are well aware of it, but I a lot of Western newcomers don't take it into consideration and, as a result, face a lot of problems with customers.

about 3 years ago

Nikita Yampolski

Nikita Yampolski, Internation Sales at Yandex

If you are interested in discovering more possibilities with Yandex for your PPC/SEM - you can contact our office in Switzerland http://econsultancy.com/uk/account/supplier-profile and will be happy to answer your questions, advise on reaching Russian audience for your business, using another Yandex service.

almost 3 years ago

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