Exports from Russia consist mostly of natural resources — oil, gas, wood, gems, uranium. Russian consumer goods such as apparel, jewelry, and electronics do not have strong positions on the international market. But things are changing slowly. Supported by the government and private investors, Russian manufacturers are seeking foreign customers.
In this post, I’ll discuss consumer brands that are popular in Russia and that could appeal to cross-border buyers.
There are hundreds of apparel manufacturers in Russia. It’s difficult to select only two of them for this article. I’ve chosen Kotofei and Forward due to their prominence across the entire country.
Kotofei is the most popular brand of children’s shoes in the Russian Federation. The company started in 1936 in a small town near Moscow. Today it has three production sites with over 1,500 employees and 120 branded stores across Russia. Kotofei sells over 2 million pairs of children’s shoes, boots, moccasins, and sneakers every year.
Kotofei focuses on the quality and safety of its products, with numerous certificates from International Standards Organization (ISO), as well as other awards.
Forward is the first national sportswear brand. It’s the official supplier of the Russian Olympic team and 200 other national teams in 60 sports. Forward is the only sportswear brand granted an exclusive right to display the official emblem of Russia on its products. The brand is highly valued by President Vladimir Putin and is endorsed by Fedor Emelianenko, the mixed martial arts legend.
Forward’s apparel emphasizes high performance and is routinely tested by professional athletes.
Travelers to Russia often purchase souvenirs as mementos of their trip. What follows are souvenirs that could appeal to consumers outside of the country.
Hermitage Museum. The Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg was founded in 1764 by Empress Catherine. It contains over 3 million pieces of art: paintings, sculptures, decorations, accessories, jewelry, books, and other items.
The museum offers high-quality reproductions and replicas of famous works. The museum collaborates with worldwide resellers who value history and art.
Kalashnikov. I was surprised to learn that Kalashnikov produces goods other than weapons! Its t-shirts, hats, jackets, camping and hunting equipment, bags, and umbrellas are popular around the world.
One could argue that Kalashnikov is the pride of the Russian nation. Offering Kalashnikov branded apparel, souvenirs, and accessories in your online store could attract new visitors. The company doesn’t publicly sell actual weapons. But it does offer full-size replicas. They look and feel like real guns, but never fire.
Russian manufacturers historically have strong expertise in producing luxurious accessories using precious metals, natural materials, and gems. This tradition is still active.
Amberhall provides a full range of jewelry and accessories made of natural amber, the traditional gemstone of Russian nobility, aristocracy, and, in fact, all Russians. Amberhall was founded in 1995 by enthusiasts, artisans, and amber lovers. Its production facility is in Kaliningrad.
Bahmetev. The first Bahmetev crystal and glass factory was founded in 1764. Since then, it has produced art, luxury, and tableware products for Empress Catherine, the aristocracy, and the church. Due to its elegance and quality, Bahmetev was the first luxury manufacturer granted the right to affix the state emblem of Russian on its products.
The brand is not as popular as it used to be, but it still produces luxurious tableware, vases, chandeliers, lamps, and other souvenirs. All are made of silver, crystal, or glass in the traditional style of the nineteenth century.
Beauty and wellness
Russian beauty brands are not well known outside of the country. The industry has never been strong in Russia. It has typically copied European brands. But some beauty and wellness manufacturers have thrived. Here are two of them.
Natura Siberica is among the leading brands of high-quality organic cosmetics in Russia. The company uses herbs and berries grown in natural conditions in, mainly, Siberia.
The brand is expanding gradually. It uses brick-and-mortar resellers in Montenegro, Serbia, Denmark, Spain, Japan, and Hong Kong.
Karelia Berries produces organic food products made of wild berries — lingonberries, bilberries, blueberries, cloudberries, and cranberries. All are gathered in Karelia, a Russian region bordering Finland. Along with frozen raw berries, the company offers natural juices, nectars, syrups, jams, and candies.
Karelia Berries has received numerous certificates attesting to the quality of its products, which are also used by other nutritional brands producing sweets and dairy items in Russia and Europe. The company benefits from the popularity in Russia of natural products. It is a successful “green” brand loved by consumers and friendly to distributors.