Kodak in Russia
In the early 1990s, Kodak entered Russia. At the time, the country was deep in the middle of a turbulent transition from a Communist-run command economy to a fledgling democracy that was committed to pushing through the privatization of state-owned enterprises and economic reforms designed to establish competitive markets. Kodak’s entry into this market posed a number of challenges. Russian consumers had little knowledge of Kodak’s products, and the consumer market for photography was very underdeveloped. Moreover, apart from state-run stores that were generally poorly run, there was little or no infrastructure in place for distributing photographic equipment and films and for processing film. To compound matters, Russian consumers were poor and unlikely to be able to afford all but the most inexpensive cameras and films.
A decade later, Kodak’s entry into Russia is widely regarded as a major success. Russia accounts for a significant proportion of the $2.59 billion in international sales in emerging markets that Kodak registered in 2004; and with a growth rate of 26 percent over the prior year,
Russia is the fastest-growing emerging market for Kodak, outstripping even China. How did Kodak do it?
First, Kodak had a clear and consistent marketing message that it communicated to Russian consumers through a number of media, including radio, television, and print advertising. The marketing message was based upon the idea of “saving memories” by taking pictures in a quick and easy way. “You press the button and we will do the rest” the ads stated. As it turned out, this was the perfect message for a consumer market that was not used to photography. To complement the core marketing message, Kodak spent heavily on promotional campaigns, exhibitions, conventions, sponsored events, and the like, in an attempt to educate consumers and raise awareness of the Kodak brand name. For example, in addition to standard media