Representative survey of the image of German brands in Russia

  • Brand and marketing communication consultancy globeone analyzed the image of German brands in Russia and other emerging markets of China, Brazil and India in the first ever survey of its kind
  • German brands enjoy the highest awareness and positive perception rates amongst consumers in Russia compared to other BRIC countries
  • German brands score highest on “excellent quality”, demonstrating “high performance”, “good reliability” and “trustworthiness”
  • Excellent potential to benefit from the advantage of the German brand origin


Moscow, 26 June 2012 – Over 90% of urban consumers in Russia know a multitude of German brands and show a strong preference for them. German brands are liked among all three social classes represented in the survey – emerging middle class, middle class and upper middle class. It is interesting to point out that German brands are most strongly favored by 94% of the emerging middle class with gross monthly income of RUB 12,000-36,000 (EUR 290-880). This indicates an immense potential for German products and services among the growing urban population in Russia.

These are some of the key insights of the “BRIC Branding Survey”, the first ever representative survey of German brands in the emerging BRIC countries. The survey was commissioned by globeone, marketing and communication consultancy. Findings were based on more than 4,000 interviews with consumers in 20 of the most important cities in Brazil, Russia, India and China, conducted by leading independent market research institutes in 2011. In Russia, a total of 1,000 Russian consumers in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Novosibirsk and Yekaterinburg were interviewed.

Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi are the most well-known German brands in Russia

93% of urban Russian consumers could spontaneously name one or more German brands. This is the highest spontaneous awareness rate among all BRIC countries.

German automotive brands top the ranking in terms of aided awareness, with Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi (all scoring 99%) and Volkswagen (97%). With 96%, Siemens  is the only non-automotive brand on the top 5 list.

In terms of positive image, BMW is the best liked brand in Russia with a positive evaluation of 95% followed by Mercedes-Benz (94%) and Volkswagen (92%).

German brands score highest on product excellence

The findings clearly indicate that Russian consumers rate German brands highest on 12 out of 15 dimensions. With this, Russians clearly hold the most positive perception of German brands in the whole BRIC group. The brands are most strongly associated with traditional values like quality, reliability, and performance. Interestingly, German brands have the highest rate on meeting local customer needs and being good value for money, despite the fact that 73% of Russian respondents considered German brands to be relatively or very expensive.

German country-of-origin can be used to drive purchase intentions

The study has revealed that brand association with Germany is stronger for some industries compared to others. Typically, these are industries where Germany has long had a global stronghold, such as automotive, home appliances, pharmaceuticals and machinery. The brands most strongly associated with German origin include Deutsche Bank, Deutsche Telekom, Mercedes-Benz and BMW.

With brand origin being a relevant purchase driver for 90% of respondents, a stronger emphasis on the German brand origin can further increase overall preference for German brands. Companies can do more to put stronger emphasis on the German origin of the brand.

 “Compared to many other global brands, German brands tend to act very conservatively and are often reluctant to invest in building strong brands in Russia. In local communication, the strength of the ‘Made in Germany’ label should be used more often and more emphatically,” says Dr. Niklas Schaffmeister, Managing Director of globeone.

German brands are perceived as relatively expensive

Despite good reputation and consumer-identified preference for German brands, they are purchased infrequently in many product categories. The main reason is relatively high prices – about 73% of Russian consumers consider German brands to be expensive. Moreover, German brands are mainly positioned in premium and luxury segments. “The potential of the segments below the top premium markets has not always been exploited. However, the development of the middle class in Russia is somewhat less dynamic as compared to China or India”, says Schaffmeister.

Internet is the most popular source of information about brands for consumers

In Russia, similar to China and Brazil, the Internet plays a major role in enabling consumers to obtain information about foreign brands. Shopping centers and television take the second and third spot respectively.

Overall, digital channels may be currently of relatively low relevance, but their future potential cannot be overstated. With constantly improving internet access and bandwidth, digital & social marketing practices are very suitable for a country like Russia with a continental expansion. It is not only more cost-efficient than conventional channels, but the opportunity to target communication to the audience and regions makes it much more effective. The challenge lies in brands carefully integrating such channels into their communication media mix and, more importantly, to continuously listening to and engaging their target audience. Here, German brands have a much better chance to be heared by consumers as compared to American or even Chinese brands.

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