Case | HBS Case Collection | November 2007 (Revised April 2008)

Russian Standard

by Rohit Deshpande and Seth Schulman


In September 2006, Russian billionaire Roustam Tariko, founder and owner of Russian Standard, needed to develop a strategy for introducing Russia's most popular brand of premium vodka (RSO) to American consumers. In the past year, he had introduced Imperia, the firm's flagship ultra-premium vodka, in the U.S. market; lined up American importation and distribution partners for Russian Standard; and had worked hard to build excitement for the brand. Beyond establishing RSO's stylishness, Tariko needed to carve out a space for the brand in the crowded American market. Imperia's marketing had emphasized two attributes, superior quality and Russian-ness. In articulating RSO's advertising strategy and tagline, Tariko would need to decide once and for all which attribute to emphasize. He would also need to decide how to articulate this attribute so as to develop discrete identities for each of the two brands. Would Americans respond better to a claim of authenticity, or to a claim of unparalleled purity? And which were RSO and Imperia best equipped to exploit?

Keywords: Brands and Branding; Marketing Strategy; Product Positioning; Food and Beverage Industry; Russia; United States;


Deshpande, Rohit, and Seth Schulman. "Russian Standard." Harvard Business School Case 508-053, November 2007. (Revised April 2008.)