The blockade of Russia by transnational brands is something no any other country have experienced before. Many brands, from luxury to mass market, halt their sales in Russia ‘due to growing concerns regarding Ukrainian situation’. Major brands like IKEA, Adidas, Estée Lauder, H&M, Nike, Richemont, Prada, Hermès and many others (you can check the full list in this article) are stopping their operations and sales in Russia.
Is this decision related to their moral standards or logistical issues, as Russian sky is now closed for European and American aircrafts? Are these brands really taking a position or simply adjusting? We’ll never know for sure.
What I know already, is that marketers of brands that are boycotting Russian population will have a huge difficulty to gain customers’ trust when they’ll come back. To come back is what they’re planning to do, as the closure of shops is announced as ‘temporary’. We can hardly imagine how brands, for example, of Kering group, can agree to miss out on the Russian luxury goods market, the size of which is estimated at 5.5 billion euros.
As a Russian, I feel deeply offended by brands attitude towards simple citizens, who never asked for war and who are now suffering the consequences. In my life, I have never taken a civil position. But here I am now – cancelling my Vogue subscription and ceasing my Starbucks consumption. I am also no longer dreaming of new pair of Prada shoes, even if I was fascinated by this brand before. And I am ready to switch from Visa to Chinese UnionPay.
Russian customers are now punished for the actions of the dictator, and I believe that this dramatically breaks connections between people and brands. As a rare example of this, I want to refer to Starbucks once again.
In 2003, Starbucks got into a political scandal because of statements of top managers in support of the Palestinian resistance. This was disapproved by company’s clients in Israel, which forced American coffeeshop to exit the country’s market.
Since, Starbucks was never able to successfully return to the Israeli market and regain the trust of customers. The last time Starbucks even tried to pour free coffee to Israelis, but this marketing operation didn’t help either. You can listen about Starbucks failure in Israel in this short podcast that I am happy to share.
I am not approving violence that is currently happening in Ukraine. Certainly, inconveniences that Russians are facing are incomparable to those that Ukrainians do.
What I wanted to share in this post, is that brands are being duplicitous, which may lead to complex implications in their marketing strategy later. I rate their actions as rash and thoughtless.
I feel hesitant to post my probably unpopular opinion, so if you want to comment, please, try to do it with respect and tolerance to everyone 🙂