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Dietary supplements and chips: how the stress of the pandemic has affected the buying habits of Russians

Dietary supplements and chips: how the stress of the pandemic has affected the buying habits of Russians

The feeling of insecurity in a pandemic, restriction of social contacts, inflation and difficult economic situation in the country as a whole have slightly changed the needs of Russians in 2020-2021, INFOLine CEO Ivan Fedyakov and Anastasia Sidorina, head of client group of Romir Holding, told at the online conference "Consumer market in Russia: results of 2021 and key challenges of 2022".

According to them, consumers have become more rational in the way they allocate their money, but at the same time, they more often consume those services and goods that allow them to relax and feel comfortable in the absence of stability.


According to the CEO of INFOLine, an event that at first seemed insignificant, such as the Ever Given stuck in the Suez Canal, triggered a spiral of price increases in 2021 around the world. Amid problems with logistics, the rising cost of transporting materials, raw materials, and end products, suppliers began to raise prices, and now the topic of inflation is number one on the world's agenda.

"For the Russian economy, which is largely export-oriented, which gets its main income from the export of products abroad, the rise in prices solved many economic problems that were looming at the beginning of 2021. In addition, amid such unprecedented rates of growth, additional duties were introduced on the export of metals, food, timber and other raw materials. This allowed to fill the budget," Ivan Fedyakov told the conference.

According to the assessment of the analytical agency, today we can say that the Russian economy has already adapted to the challenges of 2020-2021.

"At the end of 2021, we expect the growth of the key indicator of the industry (retail turnover - ed.) by 7%. This is a very good dynamic, which allows us to say that we are reaching a pre-pandemic level. If we break down this dynamic into components, associated with food and non-food retail, we see that food has shown growth for the year about 2% - this is a very small value ... > In non-food retail, on the contrary, we see a growth of 14% of retail turnover, "- says the expert.

In monetary terms, the increase in food retailing was 11%, and in non-food - almost 20%, which, according to Fedyakov, a phenomenal growth, "which has not been in recent years for a very long time.

Finding themselves in a situation of catastrophic falling incomes, the population began to borrow more often: according to INFOLine, in 10 months of 2021 the volume of mortgage loans, consumer loans have broken absolute records, exceeding the data for 2019 and 2020 combined.

INFOLine notes that the income of Russians may grow by 3-4% at the end of 2021, returning to the level of 2019.


The level of inflation affects how the buyer allocates his ruble, said Anastasia Sidorina, head of the client group of Romir Holding. In 2021, Russians began saving more often on such goods as clothes, shoes, cosmetics, personal care products, household appliances.

"Against this backdrop, we will see a very high level of stress. So, at the end of 2021, we see that the coverage of the stressed population in Russia has decreased and is 72%, but the acuteness of stress shows only an increase," she noted.

At the same time, according to Romir, 75% of Russians still consider themselves happy, linking the concept of happiness primarily with health and only then with wealth and well-being. For young audiences, happiness is more closely tied to comfort and pleasure, she noted.


The surrounding reality has led to a transformation not only in consumer lifestyles, but also in demand.

"For part of the population, dealing with stress is a story of delicious food, buying new things. With the fact that the shopper today is extremely rational. This includes the ability to use dietary supplements, proper nutrition and so on. We observe that there is a transformation of habitual patterns of buying behavior," said Sidorina.

As a consequence, there are certain trends in the purchasing segment in 2021. One of them is active spending on ready-to-eat meals.

"Right now, the ready-to-eat category is closing in on different consumer missions - snacking, pampering, ready-made solutions. <...> The predominant segment is the snack story - pies, pastries, that's what's at the top of the list. In the online market, ready-made food has shown strong growth, and rolls, sushi, ready-made pizza are key here. That is, one of the ways to combat stress is to pamper yourself", - explained the expert.

At the same time, Russians pamper themselves not only with ready-made meals and confectionery, but especially with salty snacks - for example, the most active category in terms of sales were chips, and this trend persists to this day. Also, the spirits segment grew strongly in 2020, and that trend continues in 2021 as well.

"The transformation comes with a change in lifestyle and non-product unit. Because of the remote way of working, Russians began to actively buy goods for home and repair - the trend partly persists. <...> One of the ways to combat stress has been spending time with pets - the number of pet owners has increased in 2020. This has led to the fact that in 2021, pet accessories show active dynamics, "- explained the representative of" Romir ".

As for leisure activities outside the home, fast-food restaurants are particularly popular among Russians.


"If we take absolutely all values in terms of consumption and segment them into four blocks, this is what we get: the basic story, the story of convenience, prices, the value of compliance," said Anastasia Sidorina.

Thus, the consumer of today understands certain standards of quality and convenience: the ability to pay by card, no queues, polite staff and service are becoming a matter of course and commonplace.

Despite the rather unstable and complex macro situation in which the Russian consumer finds himself, and the forced economy, the importance of such value as "a little more than necessary" is growing.

"This is a story of additional value that a retailer or manufacturer can create for the consumer. It's having a unique assortment, fresh baked goods, ready-made solutions, express checkout," the expert explains.

So any market player - whether a retailer or a manufacturer - is at a crossroads today, trying to decide which specific strategy to pursue, which customer desires to pay more attention to: the value of money, time or pleasure.

"A large number of requests from the customer are directed toward the market today," Sidorina noted.

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Author: Karina Kamalova