Russian culture, Russians and the country itself interest me a lot and partly for that reason I have visited Russia several times: as a tourist, as a gymnast, as a student. My latest visit was in January 2013 when I took part to an intensive exchange program held in Saint Petersburg. Length of this exchange trip was only one week but nevertheless I learned a lot new things about Russia and Russians during that week. That inspired me to write about culture and buying behavior differences.
Our lecturer told us lots of examples about differences between Finns and Russians in business life, in consumption habits, in dressing etc. One of those cases handled luxury watch brand Rolex.
For clarification in Russia watches, mobile phones, cars, dressing, shoes etc. are huge status symbols especially in business life. Of course all the mentioned products are symbols almost in everywhere in Western countries but perhaps not so significantly as in Russia. People spend lots of money and take even bank loans so that they are able get all the things which makes them to look successful and wealthy human beings. It’s not unusual that person who earns about 1500 euro per month takes 5000 euro loan just because (s)he just has to get the newest and the most expensive mobile phone, bike or TV. Cheap, normal or average product would be totally OK in Finland but in Russia it must be the luxurious one. In Finland we are usually given the possibility to pay in parts if we are making expensive purchases. In Russia they have this same possibility but it’s offered not only for expensive but also for inexpensive purchases too. And rates in Russia are much higher than in Finland – 12-13 %. Russians seems not to be afraid of consuming!
Back to Rolex. Its basic idea of getting customers hooked is very simple: If one is willing to buy one expensive watch he or she will be willing to buy another better and more expensive one! Naturally the money can become a problem but in Russia they have solved or reduced the monetary problems by offering compensation. Practically it goes like this: If your very first Rolex has cost 5000 euro you will receive 2000 euro compensation if you wish to buy 7000 euro Rolex. I don’t know for sure but I doubt that this wouldn’t be possible in Finland…
In Russia modesty is not a virtue in contrast to Finland. If Russian has money (s)he is not afraid to show it and it is not considered as a bad thing or boasting as it would be in Finland. On the other hand you are not allowed to show if you don’t have currency, you just need to act like you have! Offering food and drinks and cigarettes is a normal habit in Russia. Whereas in Finland the restaurant check is very usually divided and everyone in the company pays exactly only that amount what (s)he has spent. In Russia this would never happen. Waiters don’t even understand the question “Could we have separate bills?”
Could we learn some nice habits from Russians? How about providing after-work drinks to your friends on next Friday evening? I’m in!
Laurén, Anna-Lena. Hulluja nuo venäläiset. Teos Helsinki, 2008.