[Author’s Name] [Class] 15 July 2011 Global Marketing Management Positioning, Branding, and Competitive Advantage Russian Standard vodka was initially designed to target middle-class and premium segment consumers. With its price exceeding the average price of other vodka brands in the Russian market, Russian standard had a goal to familiarize Russian consumers with superior quality vodka products and show them that Russian vodka manufacturers could deliver a product, which reflected the continuity of Russian alcoholic traditions, while also looking forward into the future…
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Second, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, a premium and super-premium quality segment was virtually absent in the Russian vodka market; imported brands like Finland and Absolute were simply unaffordable (Grigorian). Consequentially, Russian Standard was positioned to occupy a market segment, which was mostly free of competitors but offered unlimited brand expansion opportunities. Eventually, Russian Standard vodka did not merely rely on its superior quality but sought to sustain a prestigious name and brand image: in this way, Russian Vodka brand would become appealing to both groups of customers – those who respected its quality and those, who were fascinated with its prestige (Grigorian). Unfortunately, brand positioning of Russian Standard vodka in Russia was not without controversy. The numerous attributes of the Russian Standard brand failed to create a complete and comprehensible picture of its most advantageous features. Simply stated, the brand message sent to customers fell short of comprehensibility – customers could not understand what exactly Russian Standard vodka was and would become if they chose to drink it. Furthermore, with the emphasis on the historical traditions and orientation toward the future, the advertising and brand positioning campaign for Russian Standard failed to develop a sense of pride in Russian consumers (Grigorian). Many of them reported difficulties with understanding the Russian Standard brand and its underlying message. Many others felt that, instead of priding the legacy of vodka traditions in Russia, the Russian Standard campaign sacrificed historical traditions for the sake of progress (Grigorian). Finally, Russian Standard brand positioning campaigns failed to communicate a message of prestige; for this reason, most advertising campaigns were prematurely terminated. Nonetheless, Russian Standard vodka remains one of the most competitive brands in the Russian market. Russian Standard demonstrates a number of competitive advantages. First, the quality of its vodka is difficult to overestimate: the product is manufactured in accordance with the premium vodka recipe created by Mendeleev and approved by the Czar’s government in 1894 (Grigorian). Birch charcoal filters are used to distill vodka, whereas only “deluxe grain spirits from Central Russia” are being used in manufacturing (Grigorian). It goes without saying that quality is the main criterion of any brand’s success. The use of pure undistilled water from northern parts of Russia adds value to Russian Standard vodka products; it is because of its premium quality that Russian Standard managed to achieve Russian market excellence without extensive advertising (Grigorian). Second, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Russians have become particularly sensitive to their traditions and heritage. Years of communist pressures denied the Russians their right for self-actualization, self-expression, and historical memory. Russian Standard was one of the first to remind the Russian people of historical values and traditions, immediately creating a strong bond between consumers and the history of
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