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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russians Grab Chance to Launch New Brands

A growing number of Russian companies are launching their new brand names onto a marketplace all but deserted by Western firms.

Studencheskoye beer, Vodka Flagman and Dovgan's D.V.V. textiles are among the new brand names that have been brought onto the market in the months after financial hardship started last August, and marketing experts predict many more will follow as Russian producers fill the void left by foreigners.

One of the first big launches was Studencheskoye, or Student's, beer in September by the Stepan Razin brewery in St. Petersburg.

Stepan Razin marketing director Alexei Lagoisky said sales of the beer have exceeded his wildest dreams and currently stand at 1.8 million bottles a month. The beer was initially priced at 4 rubles a bottle, a few rubles lower than competitors Baltika and Ochakovo.

Lagoisky credits the crisis for the runaway success of the beer. Even though the beer was initially targeted at lower income people like students, he said, cuts in salaries have forced large numbers of Russians to switch to cheaper brands such as Studencheskoye.

The Stepan Razin brewery used a $1 million television advertising campaign to help launch the beer. The ads depict a university professor suffering from a hangover and a smart student saving his day by offering a cure f Studencheskoye

Meanwhile, the Russian Vine and Vodka company was starting the process of unveiling its new line of vodka, Flagman. Julia Blinkova, marketing manager for the new brand, said in an interview that bottling started Sept. 28 in the city of Kaliningrad and the promotional blitz took off in mid-October. Besides Flagman, Russian Vine and Vodka has domestic rights to Ballantine's, Beefeater, Courvoisier and Stolichnaya Kristall.

Blinkova said there was no direct link between the crisis and the company's decision to launch a new brand. "We felt we were able to let out a new, quality and not-too-expensive trademark, and we did it despite the crisis," she said.

Several Russian and foreign advertising agencies including McCann-Erickson and British Taylor design studio put together promotional campaigns using television, in-store promotions and outdoor advertisements for the vodka. November and December spendings reached some $280,000, according to the Russian Public Relations Group Co.

Alcohol is not the only new product hitting the store shelves as Russians respond to the lack of new imports. Another new Russian item getting a lot of ad airtime of late is D.V.V., a new project from Vladimir Dovgan, well-known for his "Dovgan-Protected Quality" ad campaigns. In the middle of the crisis, Dovgan decided to add something new to his stable of approved vodkas, beers and other foods f cloth. The ad drive started in late November.

A spokesman with the company said that D.V.V., standing for Dovgan Vladimir Viktorovich, set his sights on textiles after seeing an opportunity in a land where the remaining rich could no longer get hold of quality imports.

"It is very hard to sell quality cloth here if it doesn't have a strong brand name, so Dovgan put his own trademark," the spokesman said.

Dovgan set up contacts with Italian fabric makers and is selling the cloth to Russian shops. The going appears to be slow. His first shop, which opened in the Manezh Square mall and sold Dovgan shoes and cloth, has been closed. However, the company spokesman said he expects a new shop to be opened in Moscow in a few weeks.

Other Russian companies that cannot afford to initiate costly marketing campaigns are finding more efficient ways to present their new brand to consumers.

Moscow-based trading company Ididgov Product put out a new version of its Belomorkanal filtered cigarette several weeks ago and is relying on name recognition and price f 4.20 rubles a pack (18 cents at Tuesday's official rate) f to sell. The new brand, with an improved tobacco blend, is selling well, said one street trader. "Everybody wants to test it," she said.