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European J. Cross-Cultural Competence and Management, Vol. 2, Nos.

3/4, 2012


Perception of luxury: idiosyncratic Russian consumer

culture and identity
Hans Ruediger Kaufmann*,
Demetris Vrontis and Yulia Manakova
School of Business,
University of Nicosia,
46, Makedonitissas Ave, 1700 Nicosia, Cyprus
*Corresponding author
Abstract: Russia becomes the prime mover of the luxury world market.
Whereas most of the studies on luxury consumption focus on the context of
Western countries, studies of the topic in Eastern European transition countries
are still rare. This paper increases understanding as to the factors that explain
luxury consumption of Russian consumers. As in transition countries, the
identity of consumers is generally accepted to be in a state of flux, the research
question refers to the extent Russian identity influences consumption of luxury.
This paper applies a mixed quantitative and qualitative methodology approach
and reveals that Russian luxury consumption differs from that of Western
societies. Positive relationships between identity, status consumption, perceived
quality, symbolic/status consumption and uniqueness were found and identity
turned out to have a significant bearing on consumption of luxury goods in
Keywords: luxury; consumer behaviour; symbolic consumption; Russia;
Reference to this paper should be made as follows: Kaufmann, H.R.,
Vrontis, D. and Manakova, Y. (2012) Perception of luxury: idiosyncratic
Russian consumer culture and identity, European J. Cross-Cultural
Competence and Management, Vol. 2, Nos. 3/4, pp.209235.
Biographical notes: Hans Ruediger Kaufmann, after extensive experience in
German Bank Management, worked in various academic and consulting
functions for Manchester Metropolitan University/UK and several European
academic institutions in Budapest and Liechtenstein. Since October 2006, he is
an Associate Professor at the University of Nicosia/Cyprus, was a launching
member and President (2007 to 2009) of CIRCLE and Vice-President of the
EuroMed Research Business Institute, two research networks on consumer
behaviour and management, respectively. He is Associate Editor of the World
Review of Entrepreneurship, Management and Sustainable Development.
Demetris Vrontis is a Professor of Marketing and the Dean of the School of
Business, at the University of Nicosia in Cyprus (EU). He is the Editor-in-Chief
of the EuroMed Journal of Business (EMJB) and the President of the EuroMed
Research Business Institute (EMRBI). His prime research interests are in
strategic marketing planning, branding and marketing communications; areas in
which he has widely published in over 70 refereed journals and 16 books and
Copyright 2012 Inderscience Enterprises Ltd.


H.R. Kaufmann et al.

gave numerous presentations in conferences around the globe. He is a Fellow
Member and certified Chartered Marketer of the Chartered Institute of
Marketing and a Chartered Business and Chartered Marketing Consultant
certified by the Chartered Association of Business Administrators. He also
serves as a Consultant and member of Board of Directors to a number of
international companies.
Yulia Manakova received her Tourism and Hospitality Management at the
State University of Management Moscow in 2007. During this time period, she
also received her BA in Tourism and Hospitality Management at the College of
Tourism and Hotel Management in Nicosia, Cyprus. At 2007, she started an
MBA of the University of Nicosia focusing on marketing and graduated in
2010. Currently, she is working for a company that provides consulting
services in the field of corporate and tax planning.


By a study of Bain & Company, in 2011, the luxury world market is predicted to grow
by 8% to 124 billion euro ( According to Reuters (2011), the share of global
shares of the Russian luxury market is 3%.
Today, the concentration of millionaires in Moscow is considerably higher than, for
example, in Paris. As portrayed by magazines such as Forbes or Fortune, Businessmen
from Russia and their companies take high rankings in the list of the richest people and
the most successful corporations of the world.
In the previous Soviet societies, the aspiration to luxury and moneymaking was
officially condemned. Luxury was considered to be bourgeois redundancy, therefore, it
was restricted to public architectural monuments such us palaces, museums and pieces of
art. Only the emerging soviet elite could access luxury goods. The products offered to the
ordinary Soviet citizen were primarily intended to meeting functional needs. With the
collapse of the Soviet Union the changing trading system made a considerable amount of
luxury products accessible to the Russian market and also appeal to the emotional,
experiential and symbolic (status) needs.
To delineate the luxury market in terms of product categories or price range is quite
difficult, as the definition of luxury is related to the respective market segment. For a
millionaire, a car costing $90,000 might just be a routine consumption whereas for the
manager of a major company such a car represents luxury. However, both segments are
targeted for luxury products without any conspicuous difference. Luxury products
typically refer to tangible product categories such as transportation, real estate, household
items, artwork, clothing accessories, food, healthcare products as well as intangible
services such as a private club membership, sports leisure projects, or professional
An interesting aspect of consumer behaviour has always been to investigate the
factors that drive people to spend a considerably high amount of money for luxury goods,
and the topic is well researched. However, most of the studies on luxury consumption
focus on the context of Western countries. In-depth studies on the motivation and
perception of consumers in Eastern European transition countries such as Russia still are

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rare. However, researching the theme of luxury consumption in Russia is necessitated by

the changing social processes which occurred in Russia in recent years. In modern
Russian society, exponentially increasing wealth of certain social groups and, in its wave,
rapidly increasing luxury consumption became the most salient social phenomenon. Also,
the subject of this study is fascinating due to the seemingly paradox development of a
booming marketplace of luxury in spite of a still ongoing national and global economic
crisis. A higher level of social stratification can be observed with an expanding middle
and upper class causing an explosion in consumerism (Belton, 2002).
By this paper, the authors try to further understanding as to the factors that constitute
a luxury product in the perception of a Russian consumer and the motives to purchase
luxury goods and services. As in transition countries, the identity of consumers is
generally accepted to be in a state of flux, the research question as to what extent Russian
identity influences consumption of luxury seemed to be most intriguing. Secondly,
Russia was under the Communist regime for a longer period of time than other countries,
and as a result, a centrally-planned economy was deeply entrenched in the society which
might have far ranging implications on consumer behaviour. The topic might also prove
very interesting for international, global or Multi National Companies intending to export
to Russia being one of the international.
This paper is organised as follows: In the first section, the authors define the concept
of luxury with the objective to elicit luxury scale measurements. Also, a concise
discussion of the theories concerning motivation of consuming luxury goods is presented
referring to symbolic consumption as well as to consumers brand and quality
perceptions. Based on selected theories of identity and culture hypothetical assumptions
are derived on how Russian identity and perception of luxury impacts their buying
behaviour. In the following sections, these assumptions are validated by a blend of
qualitative and quantitative research methods and techniques. The findings of an SPSS
analysis (factor, correlation and regression analysis) of questionnaires in Russian
language distributed in the research setting of Moscow to consumers in shopping malls
and boutiques are presented. In addition, the results of a content analysis of interview
findings with experts perceived to be able to comment on Russian luxury consumer
behaviour are presented to cross-validate the quantitative findings. Finally, conclusions,
managerial implications, research limitations and suggestions for further research are

1.1 Defining the luxury brand

The label luxury good has a dichotomous meaning: What is luxurious for some people
might be ordinary for others; while some brands are qualified as luxury brands by one
half of the public opinion, the other half simply considers it as major brands. Not all
luxury goods possess the same degree of distinctiveness and exclusivity. For instance, a
Cadillac and a Rolls-Royce may be both perceived as luxury cars, but one compared with
the other would be considered more luxurious [Vigneron and Johnson, (2004), p.485].
Furthermore, while luxury products have traditionally included items such as expensive
homes, cars, vacations and jewellery, many consumers might now classify lower priced
consumer goods such as shower heads, lipsticks, kitchen appliances or foodstuffs as
luxury items. Thus, as a result of the democratisation of luxury, nearly any product can


H.R. Kaufmann et al.

transform into a luxury one depending on the mood, experience, culture and location of
the individual consumer (Vickers and Renand, 2003).
The concept of luxury is the main factor that distinguishes a brand in a product
category (Kapferer, 1997) and is regarded a central driver of consumer preference and
usage (Dubois and Duquesne, 1993). Definitions connote luxury brands with high levels
of quality or excellence, popularity, recognition, exclusivity, awareness, customer
patronage, price (Phau and Prendergast, 2001; Dubois and Czellar, 2002; Dubois and
Laurent, 2003, in Tartaglia and Marinozzi, 2007), psychological and prestigious
(symbolic and hedonic) rather than economical or functional value (Nueno and Quelch,
1998; Vigneron and Johnson, 1999; Dubois and Laurent, 2003, in Tartaglia and
Marinozzi, 2007), international reputation, elements of fantasy and desire (Kapferer,
2001). Based on early influential writers in the field (Mason, 1981; Leibenstein, 1950, in
Vigneron and Johnson, 1999; Veblen, 1899, in Rozmarinskiy and Holodilin, 2006),
Vigneron and Johnson (1999) combine five values of prestige with the five value and
motivations for prestige seeking behaviour (Table 1). Veblens Snob and Bandwagon
factors applied by Mason (1981) to the business discipline are non-functional, and rely on
external effects for utility (Leibenstein, 1950 in Vigneron and Johnson, 1999). Snob
buyers are motivated to buy luxury products because their high costs and relative rarity
make luxury products inaccessible to the average consumer, hence, allowing them to feel
superior and unique. Bandwagon, on the other hand, refers to a pattern according to
which consumers buy luxury products in order to be accepted or belong to a certain social
group. Bandwagons are followers of snobs, which are the trendsetters, whilst snobs
abandon trends that become mass-adopted by bandwagons (Mason, 1981, 1995;
Leibenstein, 1950, in Vigneron and Johnson, 1999; Heinemann, 2008). The concepts of
Veblen, Snob and Bandwagon were developed further by Vigneron and Johnson
(1999) believing that there are motivations and behaviours of an alternative personal
nature, from within the consumer. Thus, hedonic and perfectionist luxury purchase
motivations were proposed: hedonic, where a consumer is motivated to purchase a
luxury product because it produces positive emotions and perfectionist where the
consumer is motivated for the safety a luxury product will bring in its quality or design
(Vigneron and Johnson, 1999).
Prestige values and motivations of prestige-seeking behaviour

Table 1










Source: Vigneron and Johnson (1999)

Although not being considered as exhaustive (Moore and Birtwistle, 2005), Beverland
(2004, in Moore and Birtwistle, 2005) interrelates six of previously mentioned
dimensions consisting of brand heritage (history culture), product quality, credibility
and excellence (product integrity), personality and consumer group support
(endorsements) as well as brand image investments (marketing).

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In addition to the aforementioned factors, Dubois and Laurent in their research (op
cit) mention the brand characteristics of uselessness and futility with the product having
no real function. Although the preference of hedonic compared to functional values has
been acknowledged, a total lack of functionality of luxury products might be debatable
referring to factors such as quality or product integrity. Contradictory research findings
are concerning the effect of perceived quality on purchase intention. Some researchers
support a positive direct effect of perceived quality on purchase intentions, others report
only an indirect effect through satisfaction and yet others argue that both relationships
exist (Tsiotsou, 2005).
Inspired by the work of authors such as Dubois and Laurent (1994), Kapferer (1997),
Eastman et al. (1999), Phau and Prendergast (2001) on the evaluation of luxury brands,
Vigneron and Johnson (2004) have developed a brand luxury index for measuring the
amount of luxury that is contained in a particular brand. Implying an effect of identity,
these authors propose that the luxury-seeking consumers decision-making process can be
explained by five main factors that form a semantic network including personal
perceptions (perceived extended self, perceived hedonism) as well as the more usual
non-personal perceptions (perceived conspicuousness, perceived uniqueness, perceived
Stegemann et al. (2007) confirmed that adequate measures of brand luxury exist [i.e.,
the Brand Luxury Index of Vigneron and Johnson (2004)], however, argued that the
extant measure of consumers attitudes to luxury is inadequate and suggested new items to
be required to provide adequate coverage of the concept. In addition to the factors already
mentioned, Berrys (1994), Rolf-Seringhaus (2002), Hauck and Stanforths (2007) as
well as Wards and Chiaris (2008) findings suggest to differentiate luxury consumers as
to gender, age and cultural background. Whereas motivations have been tested for Asian
and Western societies, they have not been validated yet for the Russian market.

1.2 Symbolic consumption and need for uniqueness

In the current global forest of symbols and logos, the meaning attached to any situation or
object is determined by the interpretations of these symbols (Elliot and Wattanasuwan,
1998). The concept of symbolic consumption describes consumers to be driven by the
desire for status in their lives reflected by status symbols. Inherently, the more a
consumer seeks status, the more he/she will engage in behaviors, such as the
consumption of status symbols, that increase their status [Eastman et al., (1999), p.43].
Concordantly, Onkvisit and Shaw (1987, in OCass and Frost, 2002) stated that
consumers evaluate a brands image in terms of its symbolic meaning. By using status
goods as symbols, individuals communicate meaning about themselves to their reference
groups. Such communication causes a desired response and has an impact on the
interaction process, thus reinforcing and enhancing self-concept.
Related to symbolic consumer motives, Tian et al. [2001, in Ruvio et al., (2007),
p.35] related the need for uniqueness to the acquisition, utilisation, and disposition of
consumer goods for the purpose of developing and enhancing ones self-image and social
image. Knight and Kim (2007) defined three types of consumer behaviour where
consumers need for uniqueness is demonstrated:


H.R. Kaufmann et al.

creative choice counter-conformity

unpopular choice counter-conformity

avoidance of similarity.

The All-Russian Public Opinion Research Centre held an opinion poll of Russians, trying
to reveal symbols that most of the population considered as indicators of luxury resulting
in luxury cars, big apartments and travelling abroad as being mostly highly ranked.
Later, the Institute of Socioeconomic Problems for the population of the Russian
Academy of Science ( interviewed experts
(1,130 entrepreneurs, clerks, deputies, lawyers, etc.) that are mostly addicted to status
consumption. According to the interview results, the main indicator of wealth and luxury
is a bodyguard (77%) followed by symbols such as a country house (76%), prestige
apartments (76%), luxury cars (71%), deposits in international banks, helicopter or
aeroplane. Only one-third part of the respondents mentioned luxury apparel as the
indicator of wealth ( translated by the
Conclusively, the symbolic meaning of products and brand images are used by
consumers in their search of identity through consumption (Elliot and Wattanasuwan,
1998; Vickers and Renand, 2003).

1.3 Culture and identity

Culture is widely discussed as a complex phenomenon. Moran and Harris (1987) suggest
that unanimously accepted and patterned ideas, habits, attitudes, customs and traditions
are used by particular groups to meet their particular needs and uniquely adapt to their
respective environment. Putting these aspects into a nutshell, Hofstede (1980, p.25)
concisely defines culture as an interactive aggregate of common characteristics that
influence a group's response to its environment, or as the collective programming of
the mind which distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from
another (p.5). More specifically, Hofstede and Hofstede (2005) suggest five cultural
dimensions which influence the respective peoples behaviour: individualism vs.
collectivism, masculinity vs. femininity, power distance, uncertainty avoidance,
long-term vs. short-term orientation. Lustig and Koester (1999), however, reason cultural
differences primarily by the individualism vs. collectivism category which emphasises
conflicting views on the nature of relationships between humans and society.
Many studies have succeeded in establishing links between culture and consumer
behaviour (see McCracken, 1986 in Kau and Jung, 2004) in the sense that cultural factors
govern consumer behaviour of members of a particular society (Schiffman and Kanuk,
Culture is also associated with what society members consider to be necessity and
what they view as a luxury. For example, 55% of US adults consider a microwave to be a
necessity, and 36% consider remote control for a TV to be a necessity (Schiffman and
Kanuk, 2004). As Chanel ( said: Luxury is
the necessity that begins where necessity ends. As discretionary income increases, and
as the prevailing media culture promotes immediate self-indulgence and gratification, i.e.,
the ego society, it may be the case that the wish to seek status and recognition, whether

Perception of luxury


to impress others or to impress oneself, becomes more important than the ability to do so
(Dubois and Duquesne, 1993).
Due to the shaping implications of globalisation leading to an increased mix of people
with diverse linguistic, national cultural, educational or professional backgrounds, the
traditional definition of culture focusing on national cultures is increasingly challenged
(Holden, 2002). This view as well as current research increasingly applying the identity
concept to explaining consumer behaviour, led the authors to focus on the identity
concept rather than on the culture concept. The concept of identity has become ubiquitous
within the social and behavioural sciences in recent years, spreading across disciplines
such as psychology, political science and sociology. A chronological literature review on
the identity concept is provided by Kaufmann et al. (2008). The concept identity is an
important one in behavioural science in the field of consumption, as it influences the
choice of lifestyles and determines everything from the clothes people wear to the
entertainment. The basic question of identity theory is how and why individuals select
roles given in a set of alternatives. Identity is a set of meaning applied to the self in a
social role or situation. When persons are asked what their identity is, they can categorise
themselves in terms of desirable values (I believe that), as members of social groups
such as nation, social class, subculture, ethnicity, or gender (e.g., father, a student) or by
personality traits, for example ambitious, cheerful (Camilleri and Malewska-Peyre, in
Berry, 1994; Burke and Tully, 1977; Stryker, 1980, in Burke et al., 2003; Cote and
Levine, 2002 in Kaufmann and Kitsios, 2009). Thereby, two components/elements of
identity should be considered mostly when examining consumer behaviour: personal
identity and social identity (Deaux and Reid, 1996). For example, pieces of research often
refer to the identity salience approach when examining the concept of identity. They are
using the term salience to indicate the activation of an identity in a situation. Following
from the previous definitions, each individual has a number of identities. Past research
has shown that each of these identities can be more or less salient at any given moment of
time, and the salience or hierarchy of respective identities can significantly affect
behaviour (Arnett et al., 2003; Burke et al., 2003; Akerlof and Kranton, 2004, in McLeish
and Oxoby, 2008). Hence, besides being dependent on the respective situation, the degree
of salience of an identity role is influenced by the engagement of an individual for a
specific relationship (Kaufmann et al., 2008).
Arnett et al. (2003) examined the identity salience theory in the context of
relationship marketing in non-profit business. The authors suggest that identity salience
can be an important characteristic of successful relationship marketing, if two criteria are
met: We argue that in contexts in which one partner is an individual, for example,
business-to-consumer marketing, identity salience may be an important construct that
mediates relationship-inducing factors, such as reciprocity and satisfaction, and
relationship marketing success [Arnett et al., (2003), p.90]. The second criterion is the
consumer has to receive significant social benefit through the relationship: We argue
that identity salience may play a crucial role in contexts in which one of the partners to
the exchange receives substantial social benefits. For example, in the clothing industry
many consumers use strong brand names as social symbols, which can affect the
formation and maintenance of identities (Laverie et al., 2002; Solomon, 1983, in Arnett
et al., 2003). Reed and Forehand [2003, in Kaufmann et al., (2008), p.245] summarises:
... identity salience a temporary state during which the consumers identity is activated
... can bring to mind attitudes and behaviours consistent with the social identity. This is


H.R. Kaufmann et al.

important because there are a number of potentially controllable environmental and

situational stimuli that may evoke or substantiate a particular social identity, thereby
making it an important factor in a resulting judgment. For better understanding the
influence of culture and identity on consumer behaviour, the two concepts must be
integrated in the various components of human behaviour. The attributes of the person
refer to what people are the Who (identity) and the processes refer to the factors that
move people the How (Manrai and Manrai, 1996).

1.4 The Russian consumer

Russian identity is very unique in Western civilisation. Its peculiarities are reasoned by
historical development and its specific features in comparison to Western civilisation in
general. While consumers in the West can express their approval or disapproval of
company policies by their propensity to purchase, the Soviet Union was a different type
of society and by the 1960s Russian income was just beginning to lift above subsistence
level and move towards primary living needs (Yanowitch, 1979).
Life for the ordinary citizen in the former Soviet Union was predictable, drab and
stagnant. But the collapse of the Soviet Union triggered changes including commercial
confusion and has demonstrated a present inability to identify positive opportunities
(Adamson, 1997).
Unlike any other consumer, the Russian consumer of luxury goods is the most glaring
example of the concept of conspicuous consumption and status-seeking, concepts
formulated by the economist Veblen. There are a number of explanations for such
behaviour. Even though consumers were facing unfamiliar practices of an emerging
market economy, un-enforced legislation, and unpredictable price and currency
fluctuations, they began to appreciate what the new reality had to offer. One indication of
the improving standard of living was the increase in retail sales (Karpova et al., 2007).
Therefore, since the country opened its doors to the rest of the world in the early 1990s,
this market has experienced a boom in consumerism. The range of the product choice and
services had been developing. In the meantime, consumer spending has been climbing
rapidly, turning Russia into the fastest-growing market for many multinationals such as
Procter & Gamble, Nestle, LOreal, and Ikea (Belton, 2002). Consumption became the
new purpose of economic activity. Albeit only serving a small level of population with
very high incomes the sector of status consumption (expensive clothes and cars,
expensive repair and building, elite clubs, special household services) was formed.
Well-to-do Russians generally like to show off. The new local wealthy class is used to
spending its money wantonly. There is a psychological habit of consumption in Russia,
which can also be clearly seen in the luxury market. Due to the shaky history in Russia in
the 20th century, when the road from fortune to misery was sometimes very short, putting
money aside for the future was not a safe bet. Chicherova quotes Evelina Khromchenko,
the Editor-in-Chief of the Russian edition of LOfficiel magazine, who gives a good
insight into the phenomenon: You have to realize that the idea of saving for a rainy
day is frowned upon here. Russians believe that if you keep money for a rainy day,
youll catch the rain. Instead, they think you should go out and buy a pair of Manolo
Blahnics. Nobody allows a rainy day to happen to a girl in such shoes (Chicherova,
Rancour-Laferriere (2000) stated there is something indeterminate, mysterious, and
even irrational about Russia and Russian identity or so many have said

Perception of luxury


( Gijrath (2006), the founder of the

Millionaire Fair the world-renewed luxury show featuring the top of high-end goods
from every part of the globe affirmed: I really like the Russian mentality. They madly
love spending money. The fair is also staged in Amsterdam, Shanghai and Cannes, but
Russians are the biggest buyers of luxury goods (
Based on the literature review the following hypotheses were generated.
Hypothesis 1

The need of uniqueness enhances purchasing intentions of Russians

toward luxury brands.

Hypothesis 2

Consumers brand perceptions of quality affect purchasing of Russians

toward luxury brands.

Hypothesis 3

Russian consumers purchase luxury goods primarily to satisfy an appetite

for status meanings.

Hypothesis 4

The identity of Russian consumers affects their customer purchasing



Moscow was chosen as the research setting as it is economically the most active city in
Russia. The Russian capital is now internationally considered a Mecca for buying and
selling the highest of the high-end. The research aim is to understand the factors that
influence a modern Russian consumer to purchase luxury goods. In order to achieve this
aim, a blend of qualitative and quantitative market research methods and techniques was
used, also, to achieve higher levels of validity (Denzin and Lincoln, 1994).
This multi-method approach applies questionnaires and interviews as the research
techniques. Using multiple sources of evidence is rated more highly in terms of their
overall quality than those that rely only on single sources of information (Yin, 1994).

2.1 Data collecting using questionnaires

In order to cater for conceptual equivalence, the questionnaire was first developed in
English, and then back translated into Russian. The questions were informed by the
literature review and included multi-choice, attitudinal scaled questions and a small
number of open-ended questions to continuously motive the respondents (Oppenheim,
The links to earlier studies were chosen to enhance the reliability and validity of this
research. The questionnaire was pre-tested by four shop owners/managers who were able
to give constructive criticism. The questionnaire (Appendix 1) consisted of two parts.
Part A was designed to obtain the demographic profiles, and Part B explored the
respondents attitudes as consumers to the luxury goods. Question number four asked the
respondents to evaluate on a 5 interval scale (from strongly disagree to strongly agree)
the importance of different attributes of luxury goods; in total, 16 attributes were given
for evaluation. The list of attributes was constructed based on the work of Vigneron and
Johnson (2004).


H.R. Kaufmann et al.

Existing scales were used to measure the four main constructs with a five-item scale:
ranging from strongly disagree (1) to strongly agree (5) with higher scores indicating
higher tendency measured. Six items measured status/symbolic brand consumption, four
items measured consumers need for uniqueness (Tian and McKenzy, 2001), and four
items measured brand perceptions that including perceived quality (Dodds et al., 1991,
in Cheng et al., 2006), seven items measured the identity. The last four questions
measured purchase intention. The SPSS+ statistical package was used to evaluate the

2.2 Sampling method

The population targeted for this research were people of Russian origin, who identified as
being culturally Russian. The questionnaires were distributed in shopping malls such as
Evropeyskiy and Crocus City and boutiques that are situated on Stoleshnikov
Side-street. These places where chosen as they attract hundreds of people of diverse
social backgrounds.
Also, some questionnaires were distributed in Limassol, Cyprus, as this town is
considered the most populous by Russian people. The questionnaires were given to
Russian customers of Russian shops.
With regard to choosing which shopping malls and boutiques to use, non-probability
sampling was the selected as sampling technique to be used in collecting samples. Within
this method, convenience sampling was used.

2.3 In-depth interviews

The in-depth interview was selected as a primary data collection tool because it provided
the context and further insight to the study that a questionnaire could rarely provide
(McCracken, 1988). For the purposes of this study, in-depth interviews were conducted
in Russia and in Russian. The fact that the interviews were conducted in the respective
mother tongue of the managers by a researcher relates to a naturalistic orientation of the
research and increases the reliability of the findings. The face-to-face interviews were
recorded and, later, transcribed. In total, four owners and managers have been
interviewed. This includes a financial manager of an international company, deputy of
chief editor of magazine Golf- Stream, lawyer of international company and a
psychologist, PhD. The interviewees included those people who directly meet and work
with luxury consumers and, hence, could give valuable information about their
observations concerning luxury consumption. The interviews lasted between half an hour
and 40 minutes. Data was translated and analysed by using content analysis, to specify
the presence of certain words or concepts (Neuendorf, 2002). The sampling procedure
used refers to non-probability and, specifically, a judgmental sample (Malhotra, 1996).

Analysis/research findings

3.1 Analysis of questionnaires

Using SPSS, the profile of respondents was determined, their perception of luxury goods
examined and the reliability of the sample presented. Correlation and multiple regression

Perception of luxury


analysis were used to test hypotheses and to reveal the interrelationship and relative
importance of the determinants.

3.2 Profile of respondents and their perception of luxury goods

The total sample consisted of 121 people aged from 16 to above 55. 51.2% of the
respondents were female and 48.8% male. The most active group in terms of making
money is the cohort aged 26 to 55, and men have a higher monthly income in comparison
to women; only in two categories women have more income (in the category of less than
50,000 rub and 50,000100,000 rub).
All age group and both genders unanimously consider luxury goods to be extremely
expensive. Interestingly, the people who earn more agree to a greater degree that
luxury products are extremely expensive than people who earn less. The majority of the
cohort aged 36 years and who earned more than 150,000 rub consider luxury goods to be
only for wealthy people. People aged from 26 to 35 and 46 to 55 and with a monthly
income of more than 150,000 rub have the highest percent of disagreement that
luxury goods are used for showing off, while the people in the income range between
50,000100,000 rub consider luxury products to be for showing off. The majority of the
age groups from 26 to 35 and above 55, and half of men and women consider
luxury goods to be valuable, while only the young cohort show a small percentage of
strong disagreement with this opinion. 61.3% of respondents aged between 26 and 35
agree that luxury goods are unique, whereas almost 50% of the oldest cohort disagrees
concerning this question. All cohorts have various opinions about the quality of luxury
goods; whilst men (50.9%) and people with an income of 50,000 rub are more convinced
that luxury goods are the best quality. The all age cohort mostly expresses disagreement
that luxury goods are sophisticated with males and females almost having the same
opinion. The respondents with an income of more than 200,000 rub, however, agree that
luxury products are sophisticated, whereas 50% of people with an income of 150,000 to
200,000 rub disagree. More than half of the people aged between 26 and 55 agree and
strongly agree that luxury goods are beautiful, whereas 25% of people at the age of above
55% and 31.4% of young people at the age from 16 to 25 disagree on the beauty of
luxury products. Female respondents and people of different social classes tend to
associate luxury goods with beauty. More than 60% of the cohort of the age group 26 to
35 esteem luxury goods as expressing individuality whilst others express equivocality.
57.7% of male respondents perceive that luxury expressed individuality. All age cohort
groups with different social backgrounds agree that luxury goods are indulging, but ca.
20% of two age groups (16 to 25; 36 to 45) and mostly men (22%) consider that this is
not so. The perception that luxury goods are fashionable is disaccorded among all age
groups, however, almost 80% of people at the age of 26 to 35 consider luxury products to
be fashionable. Females and people with an income from 50,000 to 200,000 rub link
luxury goods with fashion. Functionality of luxury goods is perceived also differently
with more than 60% of the age group 46 to 55 and cohorts with an income of 100,000 to
200,000 rub have an opinion that luxury products are non-functional. Even male and
female have the same negative opinion concerning functionality. The first two age groups
consider that luxury goods do not carry history in them, whereas the oldest people
responded vice versa. Especially, male respondents with the income of 150,000 to
200,000 rub are more convinced (45.8%) that luxury brands carry history. Half of all


H.R. Kaufmann et al.

social groups perceived luxury to be as above necessity. The age cohorts 16 to 35 and
above 55 are undecided if luxury goods contain fantasy and vision whilst people aged 46
to 55 and with an income of more than 150,000 rub agree on it. 32.3% of females
disagree concerning this question whereas males show the highest percentage of
agreement. The young generation, more than 50% of men and women, do not think that
luxury is something unobtainable, though this feeling is changing with age, but even half
of people with an income of less than 50,000 rub have an enthusiastic attitude
considering that luxury is obtainable.

3.3 Factor analysis

To reduce the scale items of variables, factor analysis using the principal component
method with Varimax rotation was employed.
From 21 initial variables 7 factors were chosen that explained 60% of the variability.
Appendix 2 shows that the first few factors explained relatively large amounts of
variance (especially factor 1) whereas the subsequent factors explain only small amounts
of variance. The most correlated factors were defined and saved as new variables or
regression factor scores (1 = symbolic consumption; 2 = identity; 3 = uniqueness;
4 = perceived quality; 5 = status consumption; 6 = prestigious brands; 7 = durability)
(Appendix 3). Then the created factor scores were used in the correlation and regression
Cronbachs alpha reliability coefficient for variables of status/symbolic consumption,
perceived quality, consumers need for uniqueness, identity, and purchasing luxury goods
were 0.69, 0.71, 0.70, 0.71, and 0.73, respectively suggesting that the measures for the
scales were internally consistent.

3.4 Correlation analysis

The correlations were low to moderate, ranging from 0.01 to 0.50, indicating that
purchasing of luxury goods was relatively dependent on undependable variables
(Appendix 3).
Appendix 3, furthermore, reflects that identity, uniqueness and status consumption
have a significant correlation with buying luxury products (r = 0.25, p < 0.01), (0.26,
p < 0.01) and (r = 0.21, p < 0.01) respectively. Perceived quality has also a significant
correlation with the intention to spend money on luxury goods (r = 0.21, p < 0.05) as
well as durability (r = 0.22, p < 0.05). The correlation between the independent
variables is not significant.
H1 tested whether the need of uniqueness enhances the purchasing intention of
Russians towards luxury brands. The research found that the need of uniqueness has a
positive effect on purchasing of luxury goods and on purchasing intentions. The research
shows that Russian people are much concerned about the uniqueness of the product.
Confirming the literature review, the value of the product is judged by its uniqueness in
the market. Therefore, the more the product is unique in the market, the more Russians
are willing to buy it confirming H1.
H2 investigating the relationship between perceived quality and purchasing of luxury
goods, could not be fully validated as perceived quality did not have a significant impact
on purchasing of luxury goods but on the intention to buy luxury products.

Perception of luxury


H3 was confirmed as the status consumption is significantly related to purchasing of

luxury goods. Thus, the more consumers want to satisfy their appetite for status meaning,
the more luxury goods Russians are going to purchase.
H4, the correlation between identity and purchasing behaviour was positive, thus
supporting that the identity of Russian consumers affects their purchasing behaviour
towards luxury goods.

3.5 Regression
To identify the relative importance of the independent variables on purchasing luxury
goods included in this study, a multiple regression analysis was conducted using
purchasing of luxury goods as a dependent variable. For independent variables, all the
determinant variables could be used because they were significantly related to purchasing
of luxury goods (Appendix 4). Appendix 5 shows that 6 variables (The luxury products I
buy reveal a little bit who I am, status consumption, Status enhances my image, Luxury
brand satisfies my motive, Consumption of luxury is symbol of success, purchasing
luxury brand produces positive emotions for myself) explained 31.1% of the variance in
purchasing of luxury goods by Russians. Thus, identity including the statements The
luxury products I buy reveal a little bit who I am; Luxury brand satisfies my motive;
purchasing luxury brand produces positive emotions for myself influences on
purchasing of luxury goods by 14.7%. In addition, status/symbolic consumption that
comprise status consumption, status enhances my image and consumption of luxury is a
symbol of success, influences on Russian consumers consumption of luxury products by

Interview findings

4.1 Perception of luxury

In addition to the quantitative findings, the qualitative data add to the Russian perception
of luxury products. For Respondent 1, luxury goods are the good field-glass, a knife of
Victorinox, a car, of course, the yacht, and, the plane. Later, he continues to mention
housing and education. Expanding on exemplifying luxury brands, respondents 4
mentioned that I just finished making a repair of my flat, so as to electrical appliances I
consider Philips, Boss. I like Porsche cars very much, and I think it is very glamorous to
have such car. Accordingly respondent 3 pointed to other brands: for me, luxury
goods are cars, for example Bentley, and photographic technique such as Leica.
Confirming the importance of emotional aspects (for example, Tartaglia and
Marinozzi, 2007), three respondents connote luxury with happiness and freedom of
choice. It is related to the sensation of completeness of physical and spiritual forces
for me luxury is the happiness, and the happiness is the main luxury (respondent 1). This
was supported by respondent 2 who imparts her story of a Cartiers exhibition visit in
Moscow: I was involved with Cartiers Panther, which, in due time, the master has
made for the duchess of Windsor. To possess this thing is impossible, it is a subject of art,
it is the pride of the jeweller house, but to adjoin with it, this was really happiness for
me. Pointing to a necessary differentiation as to gender, respondent 4 commented:
besides, the man unlike the woman does not always receive sensual pleasure from


H.R. Kaufmann et al.

purchases. Respondent 1 related in this context to salient identity in that, in a certain

period of time, the gender identity could be salient, and it could significantly affect the
behaviour of the person: In my opinion, it is substantially defined by those gender norms
that have an effect at the moment. Let us say, hundred years ago the car was not included
in personal doodads, attributes of female representation of luxury, but brilliants got into,
and, now, the car got into either. If gender norms still change, there will be other
corresponding changes. A female respondent referred to a different value system of men
and women: Without doubt, men luxury differs from woman luxury. They (men) buy
just brilliants, for investing money. The man can pay, say, 2 million dollars for a
picture and rarely a woman allows it to herself.
Relating to another emotional aspect, respondent 2 asserts that the luxury for me is a
freedom in choosing, it is the possibility to dispose of time under own discretionYes,
luxury of a choice. Respondent 3 confirming the words of Nueno and Quelch (1998)
expressed a more critical view: Luxury goods, I think, are overestimated products that
have high additional costs. Respondent 4, confirming the quantitative identity related
findings, asserted that luxury gives me self-esteem, assurance in tomorrow
Generally, with luxury I can get satisfaction; life is not passing by me Although
perceptions of luxury differed for each person, the main trend regarding luxury good
perception for men seems to relate to cars as three interviewees indicated cars as a luxury

4.2 Status: the prime driver

Russian people seem to associate the purchase fabulously expensive luxury products with
evidence for their success. This creates an illusion of becoming elevated to a caste of the
higher society. Luxury brands turn to absolute symbols of the wealthy, the prestige, the
status, and the power. Respondent 1 stated: For most Russian people status plays a
crucial role. Even, I can say, status manages peopleand certainly they buy the goods
corresponding to their position in a society. Confirming Ligas and Cotte (1998),
respondent 2 confirmed the image enhancement role of luxury products quoting an
acquaintance: Yes, to know the time, it is possible to open a mobile phone cover, it is
possible to buy any watches for 300 dollars and they will truly show the time but to get
the corresponding relation, I should buy either Patek Philippe, or Vacheron Constantin
the luxury gives the chance to rank oneself to a certain class in society, the luxury
gives the chance to show off the prestige. Respondent 4 supports this point of view and
pointed to a strong influence of normative social factors: Even in Russia I need to wear
gold, to enhance my image. I need to comply with those standards that are generally
accepted in that society. Respondent 3 added in that context: Without Lamborghini,
Bentley you are not in crowd, they [wealthy people] buy it just to bolster self-esteem in
society. Interestingly, respondent 3 highlights in this respect an idiosyncratic Russian
feature: Comparing with Europeans they have another attitude to luxuryAs I travel a
lot, for Europeans it is vicious taste to come to the presentation or beneficent night in
labels from head to foot. Of course, they also come in quality and expensive clothes but
they would not scream about what these firms are I consider there is a lack of
cultural level, morality and understanding of our people. Respondent 4 shares this view
by saying: so Russians, I consider are buying the luxury products mostly for status and
social demonstrationnot for pleasure. Respondent 2, on the other hand, reflects a
different opinion and argued: before, luxury was identified with status demonstration of

Perception of luxury


the person, his/her wealth, and social class. Nowadays, people first of all, strive to
pamper them and to feel an aesthetical satisfaction from the luxurious products or
services. This discussion confirms the influence of the same independent factors elicited
by the quantitative findings. Overall, the interviews reflected identity features and
attitudes toward luxury products. The luxury goods are regarded more sophisticated,
emotional, various and perfected than usual products. Going far beyond objects of mere
consumption, they take the role of a symbolic, non-verbal form of self-expression and
social dialogue which, often seem to have a normative character as one of respondent
stated: formed stereotypes dictate us the necessity of surrounding ourselves with luxury
goods in accordance with strained standards that is called by fashion world glamour.

Conclusions and recommendations

This paper examined relationships among factors influencing consumer purchasing of

luxury goods in Russia: identity, status consumption, perceived quality, symbolic/status
consumption and uniqueness. Understanding the relationship among these items
contributes credit to better portrait the target consumers in Russia.
The positive relationships between purchasing of luxury goods and the need of
uniqueness, symbolic/status consumption and identity indicate that most of Russian
people want to avoid similarity, but, at the same time, they want to possess the status
symbols that are consumed to symbolise personal and social identity.
Thus, based on the research, the luxury goods consumers could be divided into two
basic groups. The first group includes real connoisseurs (as reflected mainly by the
qualitative findings) who are appreciating quality, exclusiveness and the value of goods.
The second group includes people who are primarily concerned with status and symbolic
consumption. There seem to be more people who consume ostentatiously in Russia than
there are true connoisseurs. As mentioned in the literature review this could have been
caused by the turbulent history of Russia. There seems to be a very strong identification
of people with material attributes which are used to show off in society. Especially, this
feature points to a differentiation of Russian luxury consumption compared to Western
European and/or other Eastern European luxury consumption, which might be interesting
fields for further research.
Identity turned out to have a significant bearing on consumption of luxury goods in
Russia. Within the concept of identity the authors include mostly social, emotional and
existential values. Thus, buying the luxury products, Russians reveal the answer to the
main question for them of who they are.
The promotion of luxury goods in Russia should differ from doing so in Europe. Key
cultural, social, identity related or economic trends will have a significant impact on the
development of adapted promotion strategies and tactics. Two different ways of
marketing communication with customers should be chosen: one for the real connoisseur
of luxury, and another one for consumers buying these products mainly for status
demonstration. The interview results reflected a very high level of passionate brand
knowledge on behalf of the connoisseurs. Consequently, for these people an information
environment around these brands should be created. At the point of purchase of luxury
products, the relation between personnel (People) with consumers and the ambiance of
the boutique (Sales Promotion) are important factors. According to the research, the


H.R. Kaufmann et al.

following characteristics of luxury brands (Product) are most important: price (65.3%
agree/strongly agree), hedonic experience (61.2 agree/strongly agree), valuable (59.5%
agree/strongly agree), quality (45.4% agree/strongly agree) and expressing individuality
(44.6% agree/strongly agree). These are the top 5 characteristics that Russian people
consider luxury products to possess. Luxury marketers in Russian market need to make
an emphasis on consumers` sensory connection with their products, and should also
consider emotional appeals in their marketing campaigns.
In this ongoing transition of consumption trends and processes, marketers should
continuously research the lifestyle and identity patterns of their target audience.

Limitation and suggestions for further research

A major limitation of the project is that it lacks broader exploration on consumer

purchasing of luxury goods and its relationship with other factors. The paper focused on
the factors of the luxury concept and on investigating the role of identity in Russian
luxury consumption. Further research could expand on the relationship between
purchasing of luxury goods and such factors as loyalty or country of origin. Secondly, the
distribution of respondents according to income is uneven. The uppermost social class is
not present, since those respondents are rare and difficult to reach. However, this study
has a homogeneous sample and its analyses and tests can only be applied to present
luxury consumers. The sample size for both, quantitative and qualitative research might
be seen as a further limitation of this research impacting the extent of generalisation and
should be increased in future research. This would also allow for a better differentiation
as to gender, age and/or income groups and for higher levels of R-square explanation.

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H.R. Kaufmann et al.

Appendix 1
Russian consumer behaviour towards luxury brand
Dear Sir/Madam
I am Yulia Manakova, a student of the University of Nicosia. I am doing research on
The influence on the perception of luxury goods on Russian consumer behavior.
This questionnaire will be only used for academic research and all answers are
anonymous. It will take three to five minutes to answer all the following questions.
Part A
1 Age
Above 55
2 Gender

3 What is your approximately monthly income (in rubbles)?

Less 50.000


Above 200.000


Part B
4 Do you think luxury goods are? (Please, circle the most suitable option by 5 point
scale; 1 = strongly disagree, 5 = strongly agree)?
Strongly disagree

Strongly agree

Extremely expensive

For wealthy only

For showing-off



Best quality


Perception of luxury


Expressing individuality




Carrying history in them

Above necessity

Fantasy, vision, etc.

Something unobtainable

Please point any item that you think was not provided
Please state your level of agreement to the following questions (from strongly agree to
strongly disagree)

For me, consumption of luxury is

symbol of success.

For me, consumption of luxury is

symbol of prestige.

For me, consumption of luxury

indicates wealth.

For me, consumption of luxury

indicates achievement.

Status is important to me.


Status enhances my image.


Luxury brand is high quality.


Luxury brand has a good reputation.


Luxury brand is prestigious brand.


Luxury brand is durable.


When a clothing brand becomes too

popular, I wear it less.


The brands that I like best are the

ones that express my individuality.


An important goal is to find a brand

that communicates my uniqueness.


I buy unusual brands to create a

more distinctive personal image.


For me, to purchasing luxury brand

produces positive emotions for


H.R. Kaufmann et al.


For me, consumption of luxury

products based on wanting to feel
superior and unique.


When I wear a luxury item, I feel a

bit like Im disguising myself.


The luxury products I buy reveal a

little bit who I am.


Luxury brands that I consume

symbolise my personal values


Luxury brand satisfies my motive


I achieve a sense of belonging by

buying the same luxury brands that
others purchase



Do you buy luxury branded products? *



if your answer is Yes please continue; if your answer is No, you already finish all
the questions

How frequently do you buy luxury product?

12 times a month

34 times a month

56 times a month

Over 7 times a month

Other, please specify ____________________________


Do you plan to buy luxury brands more often?


Don not know


What percentage of your income are you going to spend to the luxury product?

< 5%

5% to 10%
> 10%

Other, please specify _____________________

Thank You for your participation!


Perception of luxury

Appendix 2
Table A1

Total variance explained

Initial eigenvalues


Rotation sums of squared loadings


% of



% of



































































































H.R. Kaufmann et al.

Appendix 3
Table A2

Rotated components matrix


For me, consumption of

luxury is symbol of success.








For me, consumption of

luxury is symbol of prestige.








For me, consumption of

luxury indicates wealth.








For me, consumption of

luxury indicates








Status is important to me.








Status enhances my image.








Luxury brand is high quality.








Luxury brand has a good









Luxury brand is prestigious









Luxury brand is durable.








"When a clothing brand

becomes too popular, I wear
it less".








The brands that I like best

are the ones that express my








An important goal is to find

a brand that communicates
my uniqueness.








I buy unusual brands to

create a more distinctive
personal image.








For me, to purchasing luxury

brand produces positive
emotions for myself.








For me, consumption of

luxury products based on
wanting to feel superior and








When I wear a luxury item, I

feel a bit like I'm disguising








The luxury products I buy

reveal a little bit who I am.









Perception of luxury
Table A2

Rotated components matrix (continued)


Luxury brands that I

consume symbolise my
personal values.








Luxury brand satisfies my









I achieve a sense of
belonging by buying the
same luxury brands that
others purchase








Notes: Extraction method: principal component analysis.

Rotation method: varimax with Kaiser normalisation
a. Rotation converged in 8 iterations.

REGR factor score 1

symbolic consumption

REGR factor score 2


REGR factor score 3


REGR factor score 4

perceived quality

REGR factor score 5

status consumption

REGR factor score 6

prestigious brands

REGR factor score 7



Correlations among variables

How frequently do you buy

luxury product?(2)


Do you plan to buy luxury

brands more often?(3)



What percentage of your

income are you going to spend
to the luxury product?(4)




REGR factor score 1 symbolic

consumption (5)





REGR factor score 2

identity (6)






REGR factor score 3

uniqueness (7)







REGR factor score 4

perceived quality (8)








REGR factor score 5 status

consumption (9)









REGR factor score 6

prestigious brands (10)










REGR factor score 7

durability (11)










Notes: **Correlation is significant at level 0.01 (2-tailed).

*Correlation is significant at level 0.05 (2-tailed).



H.R. Kaufmann et al.


Appendix 4

Table A3

Do you buy luxury branded
products? (1)


Perception of luxury

Appendix 5
Table A4

Regression analysis

R square

Adjusted R square

Std. error of the estimate

























Notes: aPredictors: (Const) The luxury products I buy reveal a little bit who I am.
Predictors: (Const) The luxury products I buy reveal a little bit who I am, REGR
factor score 5 status consumption
Predictors: (Const) The luxury products I buy reveal a little bit who I am., REGR
factor score 5 status consumption, status enhances my image
Predictors: (Const) The luxury products I buy reveal a little bit who I am., REGR
factor score 5 status consumption, status enhances my image, luxury brand satisfies
my motive
Predictors: (Const) The luxury products I buy reveal a little bit who I am., REGR
factor score 5 status consumption, status enhances my image, luxury brand satisfies
my motive, For me, consumption of luxury is symbol of success.
Predictors: (Const) The luxury products I buy reveal a little bit who I am., REGR
factor score 5 status consumption, status enhances my image, luxury brand satisfies
my motive, For me, consumption of luxury is symbol of success, For me, purchasing
luxury brand produces positive emotions for myself.
Dependent variable: purchasing of luxury goods.