Georgia in Foreign Press
14 March, 2013
Georgia in  Foreign Press
Borjomi Being Restored to Russian Market

Georgia is a small county with a developing economy. Gaining entrance to any possible market is a good chance to foster its development. Therefore the news about Georgia getting back on Russian market made nearly everyone happy. Those who severely criticized this argued that any possible connection with Russia is inappropriate because of our complicated historical relations. According to this logic Georgia should not have any connections with any enemy it had throughout the
history. That cannot be counted as a common sense. An interesting article was published in The Economist about Borjomi getting back to Russian market. Author says that Borjomi lost its niche in the Russian mineral water market, where it once accounted for 13% of the market. According to the company’s boss, Zaza Kikvadze, Borjomi will now target the market’s premium segment with French brands such as Evian and Perrier as its main rivals. Similarly, Georgian wine now faces new competition from Latin American wines and others in Russia. The author claims that in January Russia-based Alfa Group bought a controlling share in Borjomi in a $300m deal according to Kommersant, a Russian newspaper.
I decided to see what Russian journalists wrote about this topic and found an interesting article in ÐÁÊ daily. The article claims that although during last 7 years IDS Borjomi Georgia abandoned Russian market, which was primary for it, IDS has feasible plans about getting back its market share. They hope to reoccupy 25% of the market share. However, this time Georgia will have to deal with not only Evian and Perrier, but also with Russian brand “Yessentuki” (“Åññåíòóêè”), Arkhyz (“Àðõûç”), “Adji-su” (“Àäæè-Ñó”). These brands have taken away Borjomi’s market share as a domestic drinking water with healing properties. Chief Curator of the research center of brand management and brand technology RCB & B Nicholas Coro believes that the choice of the premium segment to return to Russian market is not just an ambition, but an elaborate marketing strategy focused on margins and not on gross sales. Mr. Coro believes that the embargo has made the company stronger because it taught her to deal in new price ranges and markets. “We get a very strong player in the Russian market, with experience in Europe”, - said Nicholas Coro.
The fact that Georgian products have word of mouth marketing in Russia is an asset for the return of Georgian goods. Both sides will benefit from it, not only in terms of economics but also in terms of politics. This might be a step towards restoring friendly relationships with Russia.
Nota Benne by NBR:
The incipient warming of Russian-Georgian relations sounds terrific but questioning the bottom-line here might also make sense. What are we trying to achieve? Is it our way to boost standard of living in Georgia by giving a chance to our manufacturers and traders to sell better? Or there is something ‘territorial’ in the attempt too. Or both? I wonder if the believers — who are blessed — could give us a straightforward answer. Clever too, I mean. Would they like to respond to even a more vitriolic question, like – who might know for sure what the Russian top decision makers have on mind? Gosh, I am getting self-showered by the assailing questions: does trade between the states mean good relations between them? Would good relations mean love? Are we starting to love Russians all over again, if we ever did? What if we trade lovingly and they remain adamantly stubborn, bullying and greedy about our territories? Shall we still continue doing economics with them, or demur again? Would having the Russian markets back cohabitate happily with our occupied territories gone forever? Damn it, I want my ex-wife back but I also want to be smarter than before, and reasonably happy too when getting remarried. Would anybody prompt how to manage this?
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