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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

And the Winners Are ... Consumers

Russians love their own oil, milk and ketchup, but when it comes to pretty much everything else, they choose foreign brands.

Of the 20 categories of consumer goods voted on in this year's People's Mark contest, the only Russian products crowned champion were in the motor oil, vegetable oil, milk and ketchup categories. Elsewhere, big-budget foreign advertisers swept the board.

The fourth annual nationwide survey asked people from across the country to vote, through three national newspapers and the Internet, for their favorite brands. The winners, announced Tuesday, earned the right to use the People's Mark logo -- a white thumbs-up sign on a red background -- on their products for two years.

The People's Choice

Video RecorderSamsung
Video CameraSony
Stereo SystemPanasonic
Photo CameraKodak
Electric IronTefal
Vacuum CleanerLG
Motor OilLUKoil
Sink CleanserComet
MilkDomik v Derevne
Chocolate BarsSnickers
Breath MintsRondo
Vegetable OilZlato
Mineral WaterAqua Minerale

Some 40,000 people participated in the contest this year, 5,000 more than last year, according to organizers, who noted a dramatic change in the consumer market as many more products gained national recognition.

"The situation has changed a lot, the consumer market has grown significantly, information and advertising space has been saturated," said contest organizer Maria Khokhlova.

LUKoil's motor oil, Russkaya Bakaleya's Zlata brand of vegetable oil, Wimm-Bill-Dann's milk, Domik v Derevne, and Baltimor Holding's ketchup, Baltimor, all won their categories.

Zlata, however, had the distinction of being the only Russian product to unseat a foreign-made defending champion, Swiss Oleina, because the other three were all new categories.

People's Mark rotates categories every two years because winners rarely change from year to year.

Since 1998, when the contest was founded, organizers consistently had problems creating categories for products that were well known across the country.

In the first couple of years, in fact, TV program and radio station were categories because there just weren't enough well-known consumer goods.

Another new category, electric iron, could not have been included in the past because so few Russians used name-brand irons, Khokhlova said.

"In the last four years, the consumer market has grown significantly. Not only have new brands appeared, but new categories of goods, which not so long ago were exclusive but are now part of Russian's everyday life," she said.

Khokhlova said next year there will be "significantly more" categories -- as many as 40.

In the first contest in 1998, brands were chosen for two reasons -- Russian products won because of "post-Soviet memory" and foreign products won for huge advertising campaigns. "But now, there is real competition between transnational corporations and Russian companies," Khokhlova said. "We can be sure that Russian companies have learned not only to produce high-quality goods, but also to promote them."

"The fact that Russia is preparing to enter the World Trade Organization forced additional demands on Russian producers. And this is not only the technical characteristics of quality of goods, but, and this is very important, the ability to carry out a successful advertising and promotion campaign," said Anatoly Shuvalov, a department head at the Russian Chamber of Commerce and Trade.

"The costs of brand promotion today are comparable to production expenses," said Vladimir Kismereshkin, president of the Russia Advertising Union. "The success of a brand is impossible without public recognition."