|Social Media and UGC|
|Online Travel Market|
|Total Online Population (000's) in 2012:||61,472
|Percentage of Population Online in 2012:||44.3%|
There were 61,472,011 internet users in Russia (representing 44.3% of the population) in mid-year 2012 (June 30, 2012), according to Internet World Stats. (Internet World Stats, October 2012)
There were 62 million internet users in Russia in 2011, representing 45% of the population, according to eMarketer. The number is expected to reach 67.9 million users by 2012 (49.2% of population). (eMarketer, March 2012)
Of Europe's 372 million unique visitors, Russian Federation accounted for 50.0 million unique visitors during August 2011, according to comScore. Users in the Russian Federation spent an average of 21.7 hours online in the past month, consuming 2,332 pages online. (comScore, October 2011)
In August 2011, the Public Opinion Foundation (FOM) in Russia found that home internet access grew by 10%, but since household broadband penetration remained flat, they attributed the increase to mobile internet usage.
Internet users in Russia, by age, July-August 2011 (% of respondents in each group):
- 12-17: 86%
- 18-24: 84%
- 25-34: 72%
- 35-44: 57%
- 45-54: 34%
- 55+: 10%
(eMarketer, November 2011)
Social Media and UGC
The dramatic surge in social networking in Russia during the country's 2011 elections led eMarketer to estimate earlier this year that in 2011, the number of social network users in Russia experienced an uptick in growth of 25%. However, based on later research, eMarketer believes that the growth of social network users did not actually rise 25%, but instead, slowed to 11.6% that year. Between 2011 and 2013, Russia's annual growth will temper to just above 11%, eMarketer estimates.
Russia's slower-than-expected growth for 2011 has caused eMarketer to revise the estimated number of social network users in Russia for 2012 from 57.9 million to 51.8 million, ranking it sixth in the world in number of users.
Social network users and penetration in Russia, 2010-2014:
- 2010: 41.7 million users / 74.2% of internet users / 29.9% of population
- 2011: 46.5 million / 75.0% / 33.5%
- 2012: 51.8 million / 76.2% / 37.5%
- 2013: 57.6 million / 78.0% / 41.9%
- 2014: 62.2 million / 79.0% / 45.5%
(eMarketer, October 2012)
eMarketer expects Russia, with 57.9 million social network users in 2012, to be the fifth-largest socially connected country in the world in 2012.
Top five social networking countries, ranked by users, 2012:
1. China: 307.5 million
2. US: 157.8 million
3. India: 76.1 million
4. Brazil: 75.7 million
5. Russia: 57.9 million
According to a February survey from Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VCIOM), a local survey firm, 82% of internet users in Russia used social networks as of February 2012, an increase of 30 percentage points from when the question was asked in 2010. The percentage of users that didn't use social networks went down by more than half, to 18%.
In a May 2012 update, VCIOM found that more than half (54%) of mobile internet users in Russia most often used the internet on their phones to access social networks. Mobile social usage was highest, unsurprisingly, among the younger demographics: 73% for users ages 18 to 24 and 50% for those ages 25 to 34.
In 2012, eMarketer forecasts mobile internet users in Russia to hit 32.7 million. If more than half of those individuals access social networks via their mobile device, as suggested by VCIOM data, it would account for 17.7 million mobile social users. (eMarketer, June 2012)
78% of respondents to a survey of internet users residing in 12 Former Soviet Union (FSU) Republics (including Russia) used social media post-trip to share their experiences and photos with their friends and/or other travellers, according to a research article by John Fotis, Dimitrios Buhalis and Nicos Rossides "Social Media Impact on Holiday Travel Planning: The Case of the Russian and the FSU Markets".
Percentage of respondents that used social media during their travel planning process and reasons for use:
Pre-trip - use of social media:
- 45% to search for ideas on where to go for holidays
- 42% to seek ideas and information on excursions and other leisure activities
- 34% to seek ideas and information on accommodation options
- 31% to confirm that they made a good destination choice
- 24% to try to narrow down their choice of destinations
During trip - use of social media:
- 49% to stay connected with friends
- 30% to find out information about specific attractions and leisure activities
- 17% to provide comments and reviews about their holiday experience
- 15% to visit social media sites but not directly related to their holiday
Post-trip - use of social media:
- 78% to share their experiences and photos with their friends and/or other travellers
- 29% to have ideas as an inspiration for their next holidays
- 27% to provide evaluation and reviews about their accommodation and/or their holiday destination
While the research finds that it is after the holiday trip that respondents primarily used social media, it also suggests that in terms of social media influence on holiday plans there is a strong correlation between perceived level of influence from social media and changes made in holiday plans prior to final decision, with more that 6 out of 10 respondents stating that they indeed made some sort of changes to their original plans because of exposure to UGC.
Findings also suggest that friends and relatives are the most trustworthy source of holiday related information sources, followed by information from other travellers in various websites. Overall, the research finds that UGC is perceived as more trustworthy when compared to official tourism websites, travel agents and mass media advertising.
Most trusted holiday-related information sources:
1. Friends and relatives
2. Information provided by other travellers in various websites
3. Social media
4. Official tourism websites (state/government owned)
5. Shows or documentaries in TV, in radio, or articles in newspapers and magazines
6. Travel agents
7. Advertisements in TV, radio, newspapers and magazines
The survey was conducted in October 2010 among 346 internet users residing in 12 FSU Republics including Russia who have taken at least one holiday trip within the last 12 months. (Fotis, J., Buhalis, D. and Rossides, N. (2011). Social media impact on holiday travel planning: The case of the Russian and the FSU markets. International Journal of Online Marketing, 1(4), 1-19, 2011)
Russians are the heaviest social networkers worldwide in terms of time spent per user and Yandex is the leading property in the Russian Federation, according to a study of internet usage in Russia by comScore.
34.5 million Russian internet users (74.5% of the online population) visited at least one social networking site in August 2010. With an average of 9.8 hours per visitor during the month, Russians spent more than double the worldwide average of 4.5 hours per visitors on social networks, ranking it #1 among all countries in social networking engagement. Israel ranked second with an average of 9.2 hours per visitor, followed by Turkey with 7.6 hours.
Vkontakte.ru ranked as the top social networking site in Russia with 27.8 million visitors, followed by Odnoklassniki with 16.7 million visitors. Despite Facebook's strong leadership position both worldwide and in the majority of individual Internet markets, it ranked just fifth in Russia with 4.5 million visitors. However, its audience has grown 376 percent in the past year, outpacing each of the other top five social networking sites in the market.
Top 10 countries for social networking ranked by time spent per visitor (average hours per visitor), August 2010 (total worldwide Audience, Age 15+ - Home and Work Locations):
Worldwide: 4.5 hours per visitors
1. Russian Federation: 9.8
2. Israel: 9.2
3. Turkey: 7.6
4. UK: 7.3
5. Philippines: 6.2
6. Canada: 5.8
7. Indonesia: 5.3
8. Finland: 5.0
9. Spain: 5.0
10. Puerto Rico: 4.9
(comScore, October 2010)
Online travel market
Researching travel on the web-not just booking-is already common among travellers in Russia compared to many other countries. PhoCusWright found in April 2011 that leisure travellers of all varieties in Russia were more influenced by online sources (65%) when choosing their destination than travellers in any other country surveyed. The mobile internet had a comparatively weak effect on travellers' decision-making.
Information sources that influenced choice of travel destination, according to leisure travellers in selected countries, April 2011 (% of respondents):
- Websites via computer: 65%
- Personal recommendations from friends/family: 57%
- Online advertising/email: 26%
- Information in printed travel guidebooks: 21%
- Personal advice from travel professionals/travel agents: 24%
- Websites or applications via mobile device: 18%
- Printed publications, articles or brochures : 15%
Of the online sources these travel researchers used, search engines were the most popular by a wide margin, at 77%. (eMarketer, September 2012)
Online travel sales are expected to reach $3.38 billion by 2016, according to an eMarketer report ‘BRIC Travel Markets in Transition: Trends Influence Overall Ecommerce'. Russia has by far the lowest online travel sales of the emerging countries, despite high GDP. But consumers there are avid internet travel researchers and eMarketer estimates a 9.8% Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) for online travel sales for the period between 2011-2016.
Online travel sales in Russia, 2010-2016 (billions):
- 2010: $1.48 billion (+49.8%)
- 2011: $2.12 billion (+43.0%)
- 2012: $2.57 billion (+21.5%)
- 2013: $2.98 billion (+16.0%)
- 2014: $3.04 billion (+2.0%)
- 2015: $3.21 billion (+5.5%)
- 2016: $3.38 billion (+5.1%)
eMarketer estimates online travel in Russia is going through a period of robust growth, having expanded at a rate of 43% in 2011 and projected to grow another 21.5% in 2012, to over $2.5 billion. By 2014, that growth will drop down to single digits.
As the expanding economy drives growth in Russia's broader ecommerce marketplace, online travel will contribute a relatively steady share to the B2C ecommerce pie-dropping from approximately 17% in 2011 to roughly 15% in 2016, according to eMarketer. But in terms of the total travel market, a July report from PhoCusWright projected online travel would grow its share from 10% in 2011 to 18% by 2013. (eMarketer article 1 and article 2, September 2012)
Russia's online travel growth has lagged due to the vast size of the country's unwired, rural areas, as well as consumers' distrust of banks and charge cards, according to Lorraine Sileo, PhoCusWright's vice president, research. But change is coming fast, and Russia's online emergence signals a major shift in how travel is sold in the region.
PhoCusWright projects Russia's online travel penetration will climb from 10% in 2011 to 18% by 2013. (PhoCusWright FYI, July 2012)
70% of online travel bookings in Russia are still accompanied by phone calls or letters to customer service, according to a study based on residents of Moscow and St. Petersburg, regarding Russians' travel habits by Russia's leading hotel booking website, Oktogo.ru, and Synovate Comcon market research.
According to the survey, 76% of participants use online search services of Google and Yandex, although a great amount of 80% look also at offline advertisements. 62% seek friends' advice, while a quarter of the respondents take into account online reviews. Considering that ordering travel products and services online will be less expensive, the majority of both Moscow and St. Petersburg residents surveyed end by using the web when it comes to choose their vacation.
The research found that 81 % of Moscow and St. Petersburg inhabitants are ready to plan their vacation by using online booking services. However, vacationers from Moscow tend to use one single service they know about, while San Petersburg residents have named several online services of this type when they were asked. Concluding, simplicity and convenience seem to be the most important factors for Russians when it comes to choosing an online service to book their vacations. (HOTELMARKETING.COM, May 2012)
Travel industry online development
TripAdvisor quietly launched two new country sites in November 2010 - Greece and Russia - as it continues its gradual expansion across the globe.
The two new European sites - TripAdvisor.com.gr and TripAdvisor.ru - are the first new ones on the continent since a concerted expansion programme in 2008 and 2009. It brings the number of individual country sites on the TripAdvisor to 25.
A TripAdvisor official says the next major launch will be for the Indonesian market, probably later in November 2010. This will be the first significant launch in the region since former-European managing director Marc Charron uprooted from his London base to set up an office for TripAdvisor in Singapore.
TripAdvisor already has country sites for India, Thailand, South Korea and China (under the Daodao brand). (tnooz - talking travel tech, November 2010)
In Russia, where smartphone ownership is growing but feature phones still dominate the market, consumers are starting to familiarize themselves with QR Codes; but most still don't know what 2-D mobile barcodes are, according to data from market research firm and consultancy J'Son and Partners.
The company found that as of July 2012, 59% of mobile phone users in Russia did not know what a mobile barcode was, and another 8% were unsure how to use them.
Mobile users in Russia who had scanned barcodes were most likely to have done so from product packaging (56%), followed by magazines (46%) and coupons (45%), and most wanted a deal. 87% expected to find a coupon after scanning a mobile barcode, while 64% thought they would find some other type of discount.
US consumers also look to mobile barcodes for discounts and coupons, but marketers aren't necessarily providing them, using the codes instead for brand messaging or product information. (eMarketer, August 2012)
The number of mobile phone users in Russia will reach 102.2 million in 2012, and then climb to 110.9 million in 2016, according to eMarketer.
Smartphones are gaining market share in Russia, but still trail feature phone adoption by a significant margin, according to research from the International Data Corporation, based on quarterly data collected from vendors and retailers, as well as distribution information. Back in 2009, only 5% of mobile phone shipments in Russia were of smartphones, but by 2011 that percentage had more than quadrupled, to 21%. Part of the fast adoption rate is due to consumers in Russia who are turning to smartphones not to supplant older, internet-enabled devices, but to serve as their primary means of accessing the web. (eMarketer, August 2012)
The sales of smartphones reached 7.7 million units in Russia in 2011, accounting for 18.8% of all mobile phones sold in the country in 2011, according to MTS (a telecommunications operator and mobile equipment retailer). (PMR Ltd, January 2012)
Mobile phones are immensely popular in Russia. There will be 185.9 million mobile phone subscriptions in the country by the end of 2011, a number 34% higher than the total population, according to estimates by eMarketer.
The figure was higher according to a study by Advanced Communications & Media (AC&M), finding that, with 225.2 million mobile phone subscriptions in September 2011, there were approximately 1.5 valid SIM cards for every person in Russia.
But higher-end smartphones like the iPhone 4S may be a long way off for the average consumer in Russia. The majority of users are still connecting via older, 2G networks, according to Informa Telecoms & Media. In Q2 2011, the firm estimated 15 million 3G subscriptions in the country, a total penetration of 7%. Even with low 3G penetration, users are eager to access advanced mobile content. eMarketer projects 29 million mobile internet users in the country by December 2011.
In August 2011, the Public Opinion Foundation (FOM) in Russia found that home internet access grew by 10%, but since household broadband penetration remained flat, they attributed the increase to mobile internet usage. A total of 21.2 million people, or 17% of the population, accessed the mobile web at least once per month. Demographic breakdowns revealed that younger consumers were driving mobile internet uptake; respondents ages 12 to 17 and ages 18 to 24 accessed the mobile web at rates of 51% and 45%, respectively.
Internet users and mobile internet users in Russia, by age, July-August 2011 (% of respondents in each group):
- 12-17: 86% of internet users / 51% of mobile internet users
- 18-24: 84% / 45%
- 25-34: 72% / 26%
- 35-44: 57% / 12%
- 45-54: 34% / 5%
- 55+: 10% / 1%
Smartphone penetration rates remain low, estimated at 11% by FOM, but it's only a matter of time before middle-class and younger users demand more engaging mobile content. (eMarketer, November 2011)
2.8 million smartphones were sold in Russia in the first half of 2011, an increase of 118% on the previous year, according to data provided by Svyaznoy, one of Russia's largest mobile phone retailers. This doubled the smartphone volume share in terms of total handsets sold from 9% in the first half of 2010 to 18% in the first half of 2011.
The sales of traditional mobile phones (non-smartphones) decreased in the first half of 2011 by 6% year on year, in terms of volume. (PMR - IT and telecommunications sector in Central and Eastern Europe, August 2011)
Russia's broadband market has seen solid growth in the past few years. The number of fixed broadband households reached 11.9 million in 2011, and is expected to increase 8.6% to 12.9 million in 2012, according to eMarketer. By the end of 2012, a quarter of all Russian households will be wired with broadband, including cable modem, digital subscriber line (DSL), fiber and wireless/satellite technologies.
eMarketer estimates that growth rates will begin to level off to the single digits this year, however, and total fixed broadband households will reach 15.7 million in 2016 for a penetration of just over 30%. Subscription growth will also level off, increasing from 13.6 million in 2011 to 18.7 million in 2016.
Russian management consulting firm J'son & Partners was much more bullish on broadband subscriptions. In its March 2012 report on fixed access network technologies, the firm estimated there were 21.7 million households with broadband in 2011, for a penetration of 39%. The broadband household figure is expected to reach 32 million by 2015. (eMarketer, May 2012)
Last Updated on Tuesday, 30 April 2013 08:58