Russia's top wine buyers

Russians may love their spirits, but it’s wine that offers opportunities for growth, turning wine buyers into power brokers. Anton Moiseenko reports.

Cafe Pushkin, Moscow
Cafe Pushkin, Moscow

There are interesting and paradoxical discoveries about the Russian wine market: wines, not spirits, have been showing better growth. According to Alexander Mechetin, chairman of the Beluga Group, vodka sales in Russia are stagnating and have halved in the past 15 years. This makes wine buyers an increasingly important group. 

Clearly, the on- and off-trade outlets use different approaches and sales strategies, including hiring different kinds of personnel. In general, there is a (slow) move towards professional buying and wine shelf management practices among big retail groups, with a clear distinction between the old school buyers and the new wave category managers. “A typical buyer is looking to buy at the lowest price,” says Maxim Lesnichenko, managing partner at consultancy Wine Direct, “while the category manager is a level up, looking how to sell better-suited products to the customers, with price being of less concern.”

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