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Online and mobile usage in Russia

Technological penetration

Number of internet users 2014: 79 million (nearly 55%)

In early 2014, 59% of the Russian adult population had access to the internet and Russia was Europe’s number one in terms of internet users. However, the growth of the Russian internet audience had slowed in recent years, boasting only 4% growth when compared with 2013. Internet penetration and usage rates also differ across the regions of Russia, with monthly internet usage rates much higher in Moscow, St Petersburg and other cities with one million + inhabitants, when compared with Russia’s smaller towns and villages.

Mobile penetration 2013: Up to 230 million active SIM cards (160% penetration rate)

Broadband penetration 2013: In the Russian Federation the most popular method of accessing the internet is still broadband (fixed and wireless).

In the fourth quarter of 2013, it was estimated that there were 23.1 million fixed broadband subscribers in the Russian Federation, with an annual growth rate of 13.27%. This penetration growth rate has been slowing in recent years, and Moscow, the Novosibirsk Region and St Petersburg had much higher penetration rates than the national figure. In 2013, fixed broadband penetration in the general population reached 16.21%.

IHS forecasts that this growth in broadband penetration will continue, reaching 28.1 million fixed broadband connected households in 2018.

Overall adoption of broadband (fixed and wireless) in Russia stood at 77% in 2014. Broadband penetration rates are continuing to grow at an impressive rate, with annual growth rates above the global average at around 27%. 56 million Russians (48% of population) are now accessing the internet every day.

Tablet penetration 2013: 14%

Smartphone penetration 2014: 43% (over 61 million people)

In contrast to Brazil, China and many Western territories where smartphones have become much more popular than traditional mobile phones, roughly half of mobile internet users in Russia connect to the internet via ‘feature phones’, or, mobile devices with no touchscreen, QWERTY keypad or operating system.

It is important to note, however, that in 2012 high speed cellular bandwidth became more widely available in the Russian Federation, resulting in a vastly increased annual user growth rate for smartphones. eMarketer thus predicts that the next four years will continue to produce double digit growth rates for the smartphone industry in Russia.

Therefore, though Russia has been a relatively slow adopter of mobile internet and smartphones when compared with its European neighbours, it is now placed amongst the top five fastest-growing countries in terms of smart device penetration. Indeed, smartphone sales made up approximately half of all mobile sales in the third and fourth quarters of 2013.

According to Yandex, in 2013 the number of Russians using the internet on a mobile device (smartphone or tablet) increased by 1.5x to 25.5 million users. By 2017, PwC predicts Russia will have 100 million mobile internet users, or roughly 70% of the population as it currently stands.

How did Russian consumers access the internet?

As is the case with most territories across the globe, within Russia the growth rate of desktop internet usage is slowing down whilst mobile internet usage (including feature phones, smartphones and tablets) is on the rise.

The below chart depicts Russian usage rates by device in 2013:

Accessing the Internet

Internet users in Russia lead Europe in time spent online, with users spending an average of 4.8 hours on the internet every day.

When an individual in Russia owns a desktop/laptop/notebook computer and two or more mobile devices, 50% of their time online is spent on a mobile device as depicted below. E-Retailers looking to target Russian consumers should take this into account when developing their digital strategies.

Methods of accessing the internet in Russia also vary according to geographic region. For example, mobile internet users in this location are most likely to be residents of economically advanced regions. Indeed inhabitants of Moscow and St. Petersburg, are 2 to 3 times more active in their online presence than the country average, and are more likely to use smartphones than their counterparts in less advanced areas of Russia.

National website domains:

The below table displays popular Russian domain names, together with some general information on the circumstances in which they are most commonly used.

Importantly for an e-Retailer looking to set up a website in Russia, .com.ru and other second-level domain names are ranked lower on search engines than top-level alternatives. What’s more, second-level domain names became popular in Russia 10 years ago when hosting was very expensive. Now, however, the price of hosting on top-level domains is negligible both for individuals and businesses, and second-level domain names have become less and less popular as a result.

By far the most popular domain names in Russia are .ru and .com, and where available these will almost certainly be the best choice for your e-Shop in this location. All other zone names will sound exotic and strange to Russian consumers, though .net and .org are certainly acceptable alternatives for IT or non-commercial organizations.

The .рф domain is growing in popularity in Russia but its usefulness is limited as it is very inconvenient when it comes to organic search results. The SEO rule-of-thumb is that if you plan to promote your website, don’t use .рф - go for .ru.

Administrative control and technical support of the .ru/.рф domain has been assigned to the Coordination Centre for TLD RU/ рф. The Coordination Centre for TLD RU/ рф, does not, however, perform a registrar’s functions. Registration of second-level domain names in .RU/. рф is available only through accredited registrars, a list of which is displayed at http://www.cctld.ru/en/registrators/.

All geographical regions of Russia have their own second-level domains, as do many specific sectors, and there are a number of pre-set second-level domains designated for third-level domain registration (some of the most popular of which are included in the previous table). There are currently 133 active second-level domains available for registration in Russia.

Domain names are registered for a period of one year. To keep an allocated domain name for an additional year, the registrant must go through a re-registration procedure.

Popular search engines:

Yandex is the leading search engine in Russia, with Google in second place trailing quite significantly behind in terms of market share. Yandex has long maintained its dominance in this area of the market, and is forecasted to continue to do so into the future.

When it comes to broaching the Russian ecommerce market, it is clear that an e-Retailer should not ignore Yandex as a means of establishing a presence amongst Russian consumers. Yandex is a tool that is reputed to be unparalleled when it comes to digital marketing strategies.

Other popular search engines in the Russian Federation include Search.Mail.ru (depicted as ‘Mail’, right), Rambler and Bing. The latter two search engines do not play a significant role in Russian search behaviour.

Social media:

As with search engines, Russian consumers tend to prefer homegrown social media platforms to otherwise popular global alternatives, with domestic social networking site VKontakte the most popular with a 28% penetration rate. Odnoklassniki.ru follows closely behind, and is particularly popular with Russian students that want to connect and share data.

In the fourth quarter of 2014, it was reported that 46% of the Russian population had an active account with any social network and 34.5 million Russians were visiting at least one social network every day. These statistics go a long way in explaining why social media platforms are being considered an increasingly important marketing and advertising tool within the Russian Federation.

 

 

 

 

Demographics

Political, social and economic environment

Online shopping behaviour

Marketing

Payment methods

Taxation

Legal framework

Logistics and communications

Customs clearence procedures

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