Monday, 6 December 2010

The Nostalgic Lure of Eastern Bloc Brands

Recently a friend returned from a trip to Russia and brought back some local chocolate. Following the advice of a Russian she had bought the brand ‘Krasniy Octabry’ (translated as Red October).
As you might have gathered from the brand name, it is one of the few old Soviet brands that are still going strong. ‘Red October’ was the name of the factory that made it, since brands as we know them didn’t really exist. I don’t know how this chocolate is perceived in Russia, but where I come from in Latvia (former Eastern Bloc) this brand has a really strong nostalgic appeal. It helps that everyone older than 25 had this chocolate when they were little – there wasn’t exactly much competition in FMCG.

The same seems to be the case in former East Germany – in a wave of Ostalgie (nostalgia for Ost – the East) there has been a surge for the old GDR brands. Initially when the wall came down these products were taken off the market, but were brought back and are now very strong iconic brands.

For example, the luxury East German drink Rotk├Ąppchen’s sales initially suffered following the political turnover, but the brand has come back with a vengeance and is now even more popular than before.

What’s interesting about these brands is that in socialist times they were perceived as inferior to Western goods. Yet the political and economic turnover of the last 2 decades has left consumers yearning for the products and brands they used to consume in what now feels like a secure and happy time.

So if you spot any other totalitarian regimes on the downturn…might be worth checking out what their local factories are making!

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