“To remain on food”

Financial crisis, despite all the negativity, marked a new trend of intelligent consumption. Wealthy Russians don’t want to pay more for branded goods, even having the available funds. Savings for many, becoming a hobby. They produce their own planning strategies of the household, share experiences with like-minded people. How this phenomenon EN masse and the reasonable economy differs from poverty, “the Tape.ru” told the candidate of sociological Sciences, senior researcher of Laboratory for studies in economic sociology Higher school of Economics Elena Berdysheva.

“Ribbon.ru”: is it True that the home economy ceases to be a burden for Russians turns into a hobby, becoming fashionable?

Berdysheva: Last crisis has hit the balance of prestige behavior in Russia. The Russians were inclined to believe that the quality depends on the value of the goods: the more expensive the better. When in the late 1990-ies in Russia began to come of transnational retail network, including promoting the hypermarket format, whose profits are largely derived from economies of scale, they have a big problem with the fact to legitimize the Russian market its policy to moderate the trade margin.


the Russians were accustomed to the crazy prices, and cheap goods treated suspiciously. It is very possible to reverse: people were afraid that shopping at reasonable prices can be a signal of a lack of a personal budget. Sociologists are well aware that the collapse of the Soviet Union meant not only the change of economic system. It was assumed that the higher a person’s income, the more goods at a high price he buys, so it is successful and has a high social status. But now there is rejection of this setup.

Failure forced or deliberate?

Rather deliberate. Although for many it is painful, is accompanied by internal conflict. Because installations that save — is a sign of weakness, not disappear at once. It’s a difficult transition when a person suddenly realizes that glory need not income, and its ability to resist the temptation.

Respondents to tell us about what often argue with relatives and friends on the subject. Intentional savings oppose the idea that instead of having to spend less, it would be better to work more and earn.

however, The data of our research show that the respondents began to consciously save. So far we have sold in stores ice cream brand, prestigious in the 1990-ies. A pound is worth almost 1000. I well remember how one of the respondents told us that knows the brand from childhood, could afford at least sometimes buy it, but it does not. Hampered by the idea that the price is unjustly high, “not normal when the ice cream is worth so much”.

Buyers become conscious?

Yes, but this is only the beginnings of trends. At first glance, the shifts are imperceptible, but very important. The state in the early 2000-ies much worried about the financial literacy of the population. And here we are finally a move in this direction. But only financial literacy is about how well people can distinguish financial instruments, but here we are talking about consumer competence, which is an important factor in the functioning of consumer markets.

These processes have emerged recently?

We believe that the transformation could take place during the economic crisis, which continues in 2014. In the framework of the sociological research we found out the perception of the Russians of almost all the economic shocks that happened in the country: 1992, 1998, 2008, 2014 and 2017.

And we are primarily interested in the opinion of those who maintained their well-being even during periods of economic instability in the country.

What is the middle class?

It’s about those who felt the narrowing of economic opportunities. But at the same time buy food, even once the holiday was not for them serious problems. And we saw that these people, having the opportunity to keep in the crisis of their usual purchasing habits, switched to more rational mode of consumption.

what does this mean?

Customers have begun to recognize their ability to vote in order to market the ruble. Many of them said that no longer willing to pay, even if the money for them, not the last. The Russians do not want to be cheated, speculated on their confidence with the help of marketing gimmicks. Consumers in recent times was already developed their market competence. They mastered and put themselves on the phones and computers of various programs that allow you to track discounts, to balance your checkbook, control your spending. We were very surprised that the Russians today are often very aware of exactly how many there are in various shops for the same products. That is, customers are actively involved in price monitoring. Weigh what stores to buy more profitable.

is the behavior of the middle class called niggling.

In fact, price monitoring is an advanced business practice. And it’s important. That is, consciously save young people who have received modern vocational education. They were trained in the marketing of various financial strategies, understand the mechanisms of the market and so on. Many are forced to work closely with Finance the nature of their activities, to consider. Relatively speaking, they carry working practices into your life. As shown by the recent crisis, consumers, if they see that this optimizes their costs are willing to buy oil at one store, eggs at another, and for the meat to go somewhere else. The specific costs of transportation between stores and other logistics are also taken into account. It is their resistance to unreasonable expenses.

in addition to tracking prices, there are still some ways to save that use buyers?

Modern consumers have a good idea of the production chain for different commodities. They understand, due to what can increase price, and try to avoid such moments. For example, many tell us that have to buy a whole chicken instead of butchered.

One of the tactics of saving — tracking of sales. It’s not the same when you go and see the window labeled “Discounts”. This is when you may looking for the seasonal sale of winter jackets. In fact, you act strategically. Or, for example, some respondents say that, when you get paid, trying two weeks for her not to touch or do only the most necessary expenses. And only at the end of the month, allow yourself to “relax”. That is the main time they spend in that state of consumer vitality, resistance to impulse spending, wasted and so on. That is, households apply enough system solutions. The crisis has pushed many consumers to adult life. People began to feel that their role as market participants can be active. However, it will have “to pay” personal responsibility, a willingness to spend their attention and energy on these things.

In previous crises, the consumer behavior was different?

In 1998, consumers increasingly used the practice of cooperation with each other. We are more about mutual support, intrafamily transfers, and so on. Now the Russians unite, but to buy a product wholesale or to organize a system of “Joint purchase”. Our respondents emphasize that it is important to learn to survive on their own, to develop personal responsibility.

Forming cash safety cushion?

it’s not about the savings, and that you are prompted to autonomy, including from the state. Soviet society is often cited as an example of collectivist behavior. Now we are getting more and more like an individualistic society.

What is the usual tough economy differs from a reasonable consumption?

In the first case, you simply cut costs to keep at least some funds for any food. Such savings may be marked as forced. It give user some freedom of choice. In another embodiment, — though you are struggling to reduce costs, but aim to keep the desired standards of consumption. That is not just to stop eating the apples, not to spend money on them, and look in the store at the price tag and think, “No, better buy Belarusian fruit than Chinese, they are greener and cheaper.”

For a saved amount buyers are willing to act?

We are in one of the surveys of consumers were testing the scatter rates at 15 percent. And, for example, saw men such a difference is ignored. But the woman replied she would rather postpone the purchase and try to buy the item elsewhere.

Who is more inclined to the optimization of the household: men or women?

all the global research women as the main purchaser and the main “Manager” in the household. Men make all decisions about major purchases. And search for more profitable prices for cottage cheese — for them a big headache. So much of what is associated with day-to-day spending, decide ladies. Major appliances, cars, apartments, houses and boats — so do not change frequently. But bread and milk — Yes.

You say that woman is the basic family Economics. This status does not depend on whether it works or not?

It is of great importance. If a woman works, it is very often at the expense of their earnings, some home questions, it gives “outsource”, i.e., hires assistants. Working women do not always have the opportunity to realize savings because of lack of time. They slip principle: I’d rather buy everything in one place than to have to run to 10 stores, and earn “in excess” of 100 rubles.

Savings as a hobby, use the first housewife?

Not just a housewife, and women with higher education, temporarily or permanently dedicated to the care of the family. Some of them in the decree. They feel vulnerable, after all, still in our society in the course of the stereotype that stay at home with a small child less prestigious than being a businesswoman. And when the Housewives tell us about how they save, seek out a cheap but good products, we can clearly see that they see it as an alternative to their earnings, is their contribution to the family budget. Many showed us their calculations and commented: “look how much I’ve saved. Due to this, we can quickly pay our mortgage”. That is, the optimization becomes a strategy of the households is considered as an alternative form of income. The money saved is like money earned.

How on the willingness to save is affected by the presence of children?

We investigated the question of how most people tend to save. In 2014, for example, we were told that began to negotiate with friends and relatives not to give each other expensive gifts. Then it was followed by clothing, selling expenses. But the children remains priceless. Therefore, their needs, than will save.

Consumer behavior of Russians is somehow different from citizens of other countries?

our lab conducted a study about the Russians throwing away food or not. In Europe is very large there are discussions on the topics of ethical consumption. When people are avoiding throwing away food in order not to waste the efforts of those who produce these goods, or not to multiply the garbage on the planet. In Russia to follow a similar plant is still very difficult. This is due to the deficiency of appropriate infrastructure: there is no sense to sort garbage, which will bring in a total dump. But the impact of the gastronomic trauma of the Soviet period. On the one hand, many say that don’t throw the bread, because I remember about the blockade of Leningrad. And others are discarded, because they want to taste the abundance that they at least can afford it. We have not yet had any extended periods of plenty, to sicken them. And even in such circumstances, some manage to master the installation, based on the willingness to take responsibility for the situation.

Sooner or later the crisis will end. Will the middle class continue to save?

We asked if they continue, say, buy a whole chicken instead of butchered. Now or else, and then everything will be as before? We were told that opportunities for backward steps is not considered. That is, consumers do not miss the profligate behaviour, had time to feel the charm of reasonable expenses, have started to refocus on its consumer identity. And while they expect to be attentive to consumer prices in full.