Russia is the largest country in the world with a total population of 143 billion and areas stretching over Europe and Asia. Formerly the dominant public of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), Russia now is an independent country and the most influential member of the Commonwealth of the Independent States (CIS). Several governmental policies have been launched in the last few years aiming to transform the country to be more democratic with a market-oriented economy. From 2002 to 2006, Russia's economic growth has been improving with the average of 6.1% annually. Its real personal incomes and consumer expenditure has also been rising dramatically. Poverty has declined steadily and the middle class has continued to expand. The country's economy has been expanding with a rapid rate due to high oil prices, stabilized rubles, rise in exports, and increasing production and industrial output. In addition, Russia is full of an educated and skilled labor force. With a strategic location, providing the speedy and effective access to the countries of the CIS, the large number of population and increasing in consumer's purchasing power, Russian market is a profitable area that should not be overlooked at all.
According to the research from Euromonitor International (October, 2005), Russian coffee market is dominated by an instant coffee with a significant 90% share of the market in value terms. The fresh coffee market is still in the introductory phase compared to the instant coffee; however, as shown in Exhibit 1, the market is growing at the rate of 10 percents in 2004 with the value of approximately 200 million dollars. Sales from coffee shops had risen to account for 8% of foodservice distribution in 2004, three percent higher than the previous year. Such significant growth is fostered by the current boom in foodservice, an increase in consumer awareness and a thriving coffee culture. In addition, Euromonitor found that one third of those who drink coffee regularly admit that they would drink it more frequently if they could afford it. All the above-mentioned information indicates that there is a high possibility for the coffee market to expand largely in Russia, with more numbers of Russian consumers turning to consume a freshly brewed coffee instead of an instant one. The rising Western influence and increasing level of consumer's disposable income means that more consumers are able to afford premium coffee in the future. Furthermore, the low penetration rate of filter coffee machines in Russian households, which discourages consumers from buying fresh coffee for the home, is also another driving force.
Starbucks will primarily face competitors from substitute products such as instant beverage goods, bottled drinks and local coffee shops. Some multinational corporations which already established their entities in Russia are Nestle, Kraft and Unilever. There are also 30 local companies working on this market, 80% of which held by Zolotye Kupola, Kuplo, Orimi trade, Product-Service and Pauling (Drujinina, 2006). However, those companies are focusing on a ready-to-drink coffee while Starbucks is focusing on different sector, natural coffee. Regarding threats from existing local coffee shops, they do not post significant influence since, as mentioned earlier, the Russian market of freshly-brewed coffee is still in an introductory phase. Only a few stores offer a premium coffee and have a lot of experiences (Restcon, 2005). Starbucks which has already established a reputation worldwide in offering premium coffee should quickly enter the Russian market to reap benefits from being a first mover and acquire the market share of premium beverage and coffee-making equipment. The company can avoid a direct competition in Russian coffee market by differentiating to offer superior products and services in a feel-like-home atmosphere and by letting customers experience with a unique...