One of the biggest takeaways from our recent Social Platforms report was that, even though social media may not generate significant site traffic or revenue for brands, their presence on these platforms is still very valuable. Deciding on which platform(s) a brand directs the most resources isn’t always easy, and their final decisions don’t always make sense. For prestige brands, this is particularly true. With large global audiences that are growing especially fast in emerging markets in Asia and South America, investing in the usual social suspects like Facebook or YouTube isn’t always the most effective way of reaching fans. In our newly-released Digital IQ Index: Russia | Prestige, this same issue came to the fore when it was revealed that the majority of the 84 brands included in our study invest equally in Facebook and Russia’s largest platform, VK, when it comes to creating and sharing Russia-focused content. Despite having more than three times the number of unique monthly visitors and significantly higher engagement with Russian fans, brands, on the whole, don’t favor the network where there are clearly more Russian fans–and buyers.
With apps, it’s more of the same curious investment patterns. For example, when it comes to iOS vs. Android, prestige brands offer six times more apps in the Russian iTunes Store than Android apps in the Google Play Store, despite Android owning an overwhelming 70.9 percent of Russia’s smartphone market. Earlier this summer, Russia’s top three telecom companies withdrew support for the iPhone, a move that will only widen this divide. Of the few Android apps available, just half show up in the first five pages of top Russian search engine Yandex’s app search results. More surprising, not a single branded app is available through its recently-launched Yandex Mobile App store. Of the 84 brands in our Index, only three (Bare Escentuals, Lancôme, and Vacheron Constantin) have apps in the Russian Windows App Store, though none of these feature Russian language. The result of all of this is that Russian consumers have no choice but to choose from a too small selection of English-only luxury brand apps. Despite no Russian-language support, the highest-rated app of the group is Gucci’s GUCCI STYLE iOS app, which now has more than 1,700 Russian-user reviews–an impressive figure when compared to the 75 reviews its peer apps average. But even with its limited popularity, the app still isn’t as consumer-friendly as it should be: though end to end m-commerce enabled, it does not offer local RUB price conversion, nor does it provide shipping to Russian addresses.