Russia - Commercial Guide
Selling Factors and Techniques

Identifies common practices to be aware of when selling in this market, e.g., whether all sales material need to be in the local language.

Last published date: 2019-10-13

Adapting sales and marketing strategies to Russia’s business climate is a key factor that determines whether a product or service offering is well-received.  Market research is required to identify opportunities and potential Russian business partners.  The choice of a partner is key and should be done only after conducting sufficient due diligence to determine its reputation and reliability.  The U.S. Commercial Service can provide customized services, which may include market research, promotional events, partner and buyer identification, and due diligence services.

Both before and after launching operations, travel to Russia is strongly recommended to establish and maintain relationships with business partners and to understand the realities of doing business in the market.  Marketing in Russia requires patience, and exporters should maintain a long-term perspective and not expect immediate results.  It can be helpful to network with companies and business organizations, such as the American Chamber of Commerce in Russia (with offices in Moscow and St. Petersburg) or the U.S.-Russia Business Council (headquartered in Washington D.C.), whose members have a track record of success in an array of industries.

Business planning should include advertising and market promotion.  When recruiting personnel or identifying business partners, local talent should be considered, especially for government relations, which can be of critical importance for certain industries. Professional services of all kinds, such as law, accounting, and engineering are readily accessible.  “Absentee” management should be avoided, because it is important to communicate regularly with Russian business partners, customers, and clients to ensure a common understanding of expectations.  Partners can assist with required testing and certification, after-sales service, customs clearance, warehousing and preparation of Russian-language marketing and instruction materials.

Every foreign product intended for sale in Russia needs to have a description in Russian that includes information about its contents, manual/use explanation, manufacturer, importer, certificates, etc.  For more information please refer to the Russian Law “On Protection of Customers’ Rights”.

Business should always be conducted in compliance with all Russian laws and regulations (taxes, customs, labor, etc.), as well as applicable U.S. laws and standard business practices, including corporate governance and accounting practices.
Exporters should avoid selling on open account until they have developed a well-established track record with a given buyer.  Letters of credit and other secure financing vehicles are possible. Exporters should be prepared to adjust prices according to currency fluctuations.

Russian purchasers are generally sophisticated and highly educated.  Russian purchasers may be price sensitive, but are frequently willing to pay for quality, especially for recognizable, reliable imported brands.