What is the situation on the Russian market?

We asked Pier Paolo Celeste, Director of the Italian Foreign Trade Agency, ICE, in Russia, Belarus and Armenia.

How are Made in Italy products perceived in Russia?
In Russia, Made in Italy products are still very popular in the fashion sector in general and for accessories. According to 2016 data for the optical sector, the majority of optical fairs are concentrated in Moscow and St. Petersburg (40% and 20%, respectively). In Russia’s two main cities Made in Italy products are in great demand.

What values do they convey?
Made in Italy in Russia is synonymous with quality, good taste and elegance.

In the fashion world, and for eyewear in particular, what type of brands are most popular?
The brands that sell the most are the best-known ones in the luxury or mid-high segments for prescription eyewear and sunglasses, such as Billionaire, Boss, Gucci, D&G, Fendi, Prada, Bulgari, Versace, etc. The first six months of 2018 have shown that eyewear sales by famous big brands have declined due to their high cost and poor ruble/euro exchange rate performance. Russian consumers prefer mid-range eyewear of good quality and fit (average price 50-100 euro at optical stores).

What do consumers think about avant-garde eyewear brands?
Russian consumers are always attracted to avant-garde brands and they like to follow the trends in “Western” products.
Currently, in the Russian Federation over 20,000 optical outlets have a department dedicated to the sale of prescription eyewear and sunglasses, which are sold all year round and not just seasonally.
As far as eyewear frames and lenses are concerned, in 2017 Russian consumers tended toward a preference for large frames (round and square, butterfly and cat-eye) and with original shapes (non-proportional frames, color contrasts, combination of special materials, fine frames).
The favorite colors for frames in northern and central areas of Russia are transparent or dark (black and brown), whereas in southern Russia the preference is for bright colors.
Another market trend is the growth of internet sales via two main channels: online and offline.

What concrete actions has ICE taken in the territory to raise awareness about Italy’s excellent products?
In addition to the customary assistance for companies in the sector, last February ICE organized a mission of Russian buyers and sector journalists (6) to MIDO, where they placed numerous orders (160,000 euro).