Perception of brands after leaving the Russian market: sociology and media analytics

The decision to leave the Russian market is a powerful value trigger for business and society today. It is crucial for further brand development and its attractiveness to consumers and investors. The LOOQME team studied the communications of nine international companies: Coca-Cola, Megogo, McDonald's, Netflix, Kernel, Credit Agricole, Henkel, Bosch, and Luxsoft from February 24, 2022, to April 30, 2023, in traditional and online media, and compared them with the sociological survey results.

Check out the interactive report in Google Data Studio.

Almost 10% of mentions in the overall online communication of brands regard businesses ceasing their activities in Russia

Since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, the issue of international brands leaving the Russian market has constituted 9.8% of the total communication in the online mass media. The research results show that Henkel received the most attention from the media in the context of this topic. It is due to the company taking an inconsistent stance for quite a long time as it supported Ukraine and talked about it in the media while continuing to work in the Russian Federation. Only in April 2023, the company could sell its assets and leave the Russian market for good. Almost 29% of the brand's media base consists of publications about business in the Russian Federation.

In the communications of McDonald's, Coca-Cola, and Bosch, this topic accounts for more than 11% of the total mentions. Megogo and Kernel brands have the fewest mentions. An explanation for such a low rate may be that these companies publicly expressed their positions on exiting the Russian market even before the war and in the first days of the invasion. 

For example:


02/28/2022 — Megogo removed all Russian movies

03/02/2022 — Megogo announced its closure in Russia


03/23/2020 —  Verevsky’s Kernel sold its last Russian asset 

03/28/2022 —  Serhii Shibayev submitted his written resignation from the Board of Directors of Kernel Holding SA on March 12

Businesses leaving the Russian market had the highest number of mentions in the spring of 2022 and on the eve of marking one year since the full-scale invasion 

The highest number of mentions of businesses exiting the Russian market was in the spring of 2022: in May, almost 16% of the total number of mentions, in March - 13%, and in April, almost 12%. Many international companies decided to withdraw from the Russian market at the initial stage of the war, so the media field saw a surge in mentions of this topic in the spring months. In 2023, closer to one year since the outbreak of the war, the rate of mentions in the media increased again — in January and February, it reached almost 12% of the total.

We tracked consumer attitudes and identified the following trends based on a sociological study of 400 respondents from different regions of Ukraine, excluding Crimea, Donbas, and the Luhansk region.

Almost 50% of consumers will not buy from companies continuing to operate in the Russian Federation

Sociological research data show that consumers are not interested in the products and services of companies that have not left the Russian market. 45.5% of respondents categorically refuse to buy goods from brands that continue to work in the Russian Federation, and 32.3% would avoid buying them if possible. In total, this is more than 77% of respondents, which constitutes the vast majority.

  1. The South-Western and the Kherson regions are the most unwavering toward companies leaving the Russian market 

100% of respondents from Chernivtsi, Zakarpattia, and Kherson regions will not buy goods from companies operating in Russia. Kirovohrad (40%), Vinnytsia (33%), and Odesa (32%) regions showed a higher level of loyalty to brands operating in the Russian market.

  1. Respondents with higher incomes are more likely to reject the products of companies operating in Russia

Among people with high incomes, 100% answered that they would not purchase, or rather would not purchase, the products of a company operating in the Russian Federation. For those with a low income, this indicator is 53%.

People with higher incomes are more uncompromising and better informed about businesses operating in the Russian Federation. Among those who knew about companies leaving the Russian market, 20% had a high income, 19% had an above-average income, and 18% had an average income.

Company communications over the past three months: what respondents saw, heard, and read

News media and aggregators (consolidators) have the highest number of mentions of companies cooperating with the Russian Federation — almost 500 each. Among other media, the most active on this topic were financial, retail, and business media. In the top media category, the highest number of mentions was in the specialized media resource of the non-profit organization Ukrainian Council of Shopping Centers. 

The vast majority of respondents familiar with the information drive about the withdrawal of companies from the Russian market have a high (20.1%) or above-average income (19.1%) and are 25 to 35 years old (35.7%). Many respondents likely received information from the mass media highlighted in the company's communications for the analyzed period.

Reach and level of knowledge about the companies leaving the Russian market

McDonald's received the most media focus on the context of withdrawal from the Russian market in the last three months, with more than 400 mentions in the media and the highest level of knowledge among respondents at 39%. Television was the leading communication source for this information drive for McDonald's. 

The starkest contrast between the number of mentions in the media and the respondents’ level of knowledge is in the Henkel brand. It is, perhaps, the result of the company’s lengthy withdrawal from the Russian market. The management made a statement in this regard in April 2022, and only a year later, the company signed an agreement to sell its business in the Russian Federation for 600 million euros. Because of extensive coverage in information agencies, Bosch (13%) and Megogo (15%) managed to obtain a higher level of knowledge indicators than Credit Agricole (6%) over the past three months.

Media activity and the level of knowledge in a regional context show that the most active regions that mentioned companies in the context of their withdrawal from the Russian market were Kyiv, Lviv, Dnipropetrovsk, and Khmelnytskyi. This may be due to the number of media finding this information drives relevant, or to representative offices and branches of international companies in particular regions.

Based on the research results, we arrive at the following conclusions:

  1. The attention surrounding the company's withdrawal from the Russian market impacts its perception by consumers. Henkel brand demonstrated this trend by focusing on this issue in communications and receiving one of the highest reach and level of knowledge indicators.
  2. People with high incomes are more uncompromising and better informed regarding companies cooperating with the Russian Federation. Brands should communicate their position in the media not to damage consumer loyalty and lose profits.
  3. The topic of business withdrawal from the Russian market is a trigger for people and society living in a country at war. Its significance in the media will arise again, propelled by new information drives within the general topic.

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