Eastern products are convincing in the west because of their price
Even 20 years after German reunification, products from the East are hardly known in the West. Conversely, it shows that national and international brands in the new federal states have a hard time in those segments in which traditional Eastern brands have been well positioned for decades. These are the results of the first West-East Brand Study (WOM) 2010, which MDR-Werbung and the Institute for Applied Marketing and Communication Research (IMK) jointly developed. “With Rotkäppchen and Spee, only two eastern brands managed to jump over the former inner-German border,” explains Niels N. von Haken, managing director of MDR-Werbung.
For the WOM 2010, more than 1,500 people were asked about their shopping habits, brand awareness in East and West and the decision-making criteria for purchasing products. In future, the study will be carried out once a year. If people in the west and east were named brands that come from the new federal states, then only six east brands achieved awareness of more than 50 percent in the west, above all Rotkäppchen, also Nordhäuser Doppelkorn and four East German beer brands. Without specifying the brand names, only Rotkäppchen and Spee are so well known by more than 50 percent of the West Germans surveyed that they can name them spontaneously. “Apart from these lighthouses, the Ostmarken still have a very low level of awareness,” says Sören Schiller, Managing Director of the IMK in Erfurt. In the east itself, on the other hand, almost all the eastern brands that were queried are known and trusted. With the caveat that the high level of awareness of the Eastern brands is based primarily on respondents over 40 years of age.
Another central finding of WOM 2010 is that consumers in the East are much more guided in their purchase decision by the criteria of origin, price, product placement, recommendation by relatives / acquaintances and advertising than consumers in the West. For manufacturers who want to establish their brand in the new federal states, this means a greater challenge for marketing and sales. “When it comes to organic / ecology, however, West Germans are more sensitive,” reports Sören Schiller. In the old federal states, products from the East were bought especially in Lower Saxony and Hesse. The awareness of Eastern brands is also significantly higher in these two countries than in other old federal states. With increasing distance from the former border, the use decreases, which is certainly also connected with a lower listing in the trade.
The question of the image of the Eastern brands among West Germans led to the realization that these brands only have a single, strongly positive differentiating charge – the price. Western brands, on the other hand, were mainly characterized by the aspects of awareness (from advertising) and establishedness from the point of view of the West Germans surveyed. “From this it can be concluded that Eastern products in the West only reach consumers because of the price, while classic Western brands in the East score on market power,” explains the IMK boss. From the point of view of Niels N. von Haken, there is an acute need for action according to the results of the West-East brand study. The managing director of MDR-Werbung is convinced that brand manufacturers have to develop differentiated advertising strategies for the East. “The ‘copy and paste’ principle only works with a few, very strong brands. For Eastern brands, on the other hand, the following applies: Against the market power of the ‘big ones’, the values of regionality, honesty and credibility can be used excellently. “