Central Eastern Europe (CEE) remains an attractive region for investors, despite the recent years of political instability. With a stable economic growth of three percent in 2017, access to well-educated workforce with lower wages in comparison to Western Europe and well-prepared infrastructure (office spaces, state and European Union’s grants, etc.), the 11 former communist countries are welcoming foreign investors with open arms.1 If you are a B2B company, however, you should keep in mind that the CEE’s market and consumer behavior differs from the rest of Europe from cultural, economic and historical points of view. To make sure you get off to the right start, check out these three key CEE market trends for B2B.
If you are planning to sell your goods online, we have good news: online retail is one of the key expanding sectors in Europe – only in 2017 the total turnover reached 602 billion euro – an outstanding growth rate of 14 percent. Although CEE countries are slightly behind Western Europe, they achieved a record sales growth in ecommerce in 2016. In Romania sales increased by 38 percent, in Slovakia and Estonia – by 35 percent, in Ukraine – by 31 percent, whereas Poland and Bulgaria saw respective increases of 25 percent. This trend is only growing stronger – in fact, in Poland 90 percent of customers use B2B ecommerce platforms for online shopping and due to their convenience, they spend 10 times more money on shopping than B2C customers. So, if you are planning to invest in CEE, make sure to plan resources for creating a dedicated ecommerce platform to promote your presence online. Having such tool offers strong opportunity to sell your products across the EU Single Market border without travelling or setting up individual shops in 27 countries that belong to EU.2
According to WARC data, 2015 saw a historical moment when the online advertising market in Europe generated more sales than the television advertising market – 33.3 billion euro versus 30.7 billion euro.3 Interesting enough, among the top 10 online advertising markets only one is situated outside of Western Europe – Poland. In fact, the polish online advertising market grew +32.5 percent in 2015 and reached 368-million-euro value, with +325.8 percent growth in mobile display advertising alone. However, other CEE countries are right behind, with equally incredible triple-digit growth figures, like Czech Republic (+214.8 percent to 51 million euro) and Romania (+191 percent to one million euro). As a result, the rapid rise of online video consumption on sites such as YouTube, Facebook and general media (including newspaper websites) fuels a significant increase in online ad prices. For the B2B market this means that the golden age of high organic searches with little investment is over. The key channels will keep raising prices and brands need to strategically plan their online campaigns to keep up the same results as in previous years.4
Based on experts’ comments, 2018 will be even more focused on personalizing the relationship with customers by using targeted video, written content and pay-per-click ads. In fact, total video ad revenues in Europe represented 16.8 percent in 2015 and this share will grow to 51.4 percent by 2020, with YouTube being the key player with more than 4.2 billion euro in advertising revenues in 2016.5 In order to catch your audience’s attention, B2B brands need both support of marketing influencers, as well as to promote their products using emotional and compelling content focusing on storytelling rather than on a standard sales approach. Last but not least, the amount of data that needs to be analyzed on a daily basis demands B2B companies to cooperate with agencies specializing in customer experience management to ensure their “big data” is analyzed correctly and used wisely in planning new online campaigns.
To summarize, the revelation of 2017 – marketing automation – proved there is a need to strategically plan and link personalized content with sales tools. The next step is all about implementing these strategies; adapting to ongoing changes in online marketing and strategically crafting personalized campaigns for B2B brands to boost their performance and visibility online. This is especially true for B2B companies willing to adapt their marketing strategies to capitalize on the opportunities presented in Central Eastern Europe.
If you are planning to expand your reach to CEE, get in touch with us – we will help you successfully position your brand in CEE market.