Krest'yanskoe, a Soviet-era brand produced by a number of different companies, remains the most popular brand of butter in Russia, but its popularity is coming under increasing pressure from international brands such as Anchor or Rama.
This is just one of the findings of a new report on the Russian spreads market published by the Moscow-based market research group Market Advice, based on public surveys in leading Russian cities.
Krest'yanskoe was spontaneously named as the leading brand by 34 per cent of the 1,400 female respondents to the survey, with some 70 per cent naming it after a hint.
But Unilever's Rama brand is not far behind, with 32 per cent naming its spontaneously and 88 per cent after prompting. Anchor, the international butter brand of the New Zealand Dairy Union was in third place with 21 per cent and 66 per cent respectively.
Other international brands had mixed fortunes, with Raisio's Dolina Skandi margarine brand having a 25 per cent spontaneous recall and Valio's eponymous butter brand garnering just 12 per cent. Doyarushka, another butter brand from the NZDU, had 19 per cent spontaneous recall, while Sonya, a German brand, had just 3 per cent.
Local brands also show mixed fortunes: Vologodskoe butter had 25 per cent spontaneous recall, while Derevenskoe (from Petrosoyuz) has 18 per cent. Domik v derevne (a brand owned jointly by Wimm-Bill-Dann and Lianozovskiy MK) has 15 per cent.
But Market Advice also asked consumers about which brand adverts they recalled, and this makes for an interesting comparison. The local brand Domik v derevne had 48 per cent recall, topped only by Rama from multinational Unilever with 77 per cent. Other high scorers were Dolina Skandi with 45 per cent and Doyarushka with 37 per cent.
Anchor had 36 per cent, while the most well-known brand, Krest'yanskoe, had just an 8 per cent recall for its adverts - reflecting showing that a product does not necessarily have to be a big advertising spender to be a success.
That the brand is a success is clear from the fact that 32 per cent of the respondents said that they would buy the brand again, more than twice as many as for Rama, the second most-popular brand.
The report points out, however, that Krest'yanskoe is a Soviet government standard butter, now being produced by several large domestic producers - one of the reasons it is not advertised and why it is so well-known.
Market Advice also asked consumers about their reaction to the healthiness and naturalness of the butter, margarine and mixed spread products, and once again the figures make interesting reading.
On a scale of one to 10 (from harmful to healthy), butter was given 7.5 points, while margarine had just 4.5. Combined products fitted, not surprisingly, into the middle, with 6.1 points. While consumers in the west are perhaps more likely to think of margarine as a healthier alternative to butter - especially with the many low and light, not to mention fortified, variants currently available, in Russia, the dairy-based product is still seen as healthier than the oil-based alternative.
A similar picture is seen in consumers' reaction to the artificiality of the products. Margarine ranked 4.3, while butter was 7.9 - meaning that consumers clearly see margarine as an artificial (and therefore poorer quality) product than butter.
These figures show that international brand owners are likely to have to adapt their products and advertising to the peculiarities of the Russian market.