navigating Ukraine’s marketing and communications dynamics: an insider’s perspective
Amidst the ongoing war in Ukraine, effective communication has taken on heightened significance as it is essential to convey messages authentically and with impact. In this exclusive interview, Yaroslav Makarevych, country manager of Action Ukraine, provides unique insights into the intricacies of the communications and marketing landscape in Ukraine and how brands and organisations are navigating these extraordinary times to engage local audiences and create meaningful connections.
What are the most effective channels currently used by brands to communicate with audiences in Ukraine?
Y.M: We observe varying media consumption patterns across age groups. Young people have shifted away from television, showing a preference for not only social media but also podcasts and radio. Those aged 40-49 are embracing both social media and print media, while individuals aged 50-59 have reduced their consumption of internet-based news outside of social media.
According to a 2023 Opora sociological study, 77.9% of those surveyed prefer social media as their primary source of news, with 62.5% choosing TV and 57.7% opting for online media. Social media platforms’ popularity remains consistent, with 71.3% favoring Telegram, 66.2% using YouTube, 55% Facebook, 50% Viber, 29.5% Instagram, 25.1% TikTok, and 8.3% Twitter.
TV advertising currently is not performing well in Ukraine due to a prevailing issue: the TV marathon. This entails the same content being broadcast on top-tier channels. While it was initially thought to be a useful approach, it has lost popularity over time. This shift is another factor that contributes to Ukrainian brands’ preference for engaging with their audiences through social media. They have identified cost-effective advertising opportunities via Meta ads, with many using them daily. In general, brands’ communication strategies now revolve around social media, utilising methods such as direct ads and influencer marketing, all while maintaining their brand pages.
Which sectors or industries have remained resilient or showed signs of recovery over the past 1.5 years?
Y.M: In Ukraine, several sectors have demonstrated remarkable resilience and growth in the face of adversity. Since the onset of the full-scale invasion, over 30,000 new businesses have emerged, with the majority being small enterprises, ranging from craft candle makers to sugar-free confectionery producers. The FMCG industry has made a strong comeback, underlining the enduring demand for essential products, especially during these challenging times. Despite the disruptions caused by the conflict, the HORECA sector remains operational, adapting to evolving conditions.
Our strategic focus remains on these resilient sectors, pharma, and the public sector. However, we are gradually re-entering the retail segment, which is also displaying signs of recovery. Conversely, industries connected to non-essential consumer goods, such as construction, real estate, and logistics, have experienced a slowdown due to shifting priorities. Nevertheless, driven by the constant need for communication with citizens, the public sector has been particularly active, thanks to strong support from international donors.
What are the top aspects that clients looking to engage with Ukrainian audiences should keep in mind?
Y.M: Brands and organisations seeking to engage with our market must consider a very critical factor and this is their firm commitment to social responsibility.
Brands here now place a strong emphasis on social responsibility, with a main focus on contributing to the betterment of our society. Each company takes pride in its support for Ukraine and is dedicated to making a positive impact through a series of CSR initiatives.
As a result, demonstrating genuine and unified support for Ukraine enables brands to establish a robust connection with their audiences. In our market, every business shares a common commitment to supporting Ukraine, fostering a collective dedication that has contributed to our nation’s resilience. By channeling our collective efforts toward causes that prioritise the welfare and security of our citizens, we not only strengthen our society but also exemplify unity.
What are the top 3 media trends in Ukraine at the moment and what campaigns are you the most proud of?
Y.M: It is evident that the media landscape is facing challenges, affecting both online and print media, as well as television. In light of these challenges, one of the prevailing media trends is the transition to digital platforms. Traditional media outlets have experienced a decline in their audience base, making it imperative for them to embrace social network apps (Telegram, Viber) where real-time news updates can be disseminated. This shift reflects the evolving preferences of consumers who seek immediacy and accessibility in their news consumption.
Secondly, online events have emerged as a potent and cost-effective means to reach a wide-ranging audience. Many people have relocated from metropolises to small villages, and online events provide them with a vital avenue to participate in events, network with others, and access inspirational or educational content.
Finally, with the proliferation of misinformation and disinformation, there is a growing focus on fact-checking and maintaining media hygiene. Ensuring the accuracy and trustworthiness of information has become crucial in a media landscape where credibility is paramount.
At Action Ukraine, we take pride in several notable communication campaigns. Among our projects, one that stands out is our collaboration with the Council of Europe in 2021. We were entrusted with developing a comprehensive strategy for a national awareness-raising campaign aimed at preventing and safeguarding children from violence, including sexual exploitation and abuse.
Additionally, we are honored to have partnered with the EU Anti-Corruption Initiative (EUACI) in 2022, where our primary objective was to draw attention to the ongoing necessity of combating corruption and encouraging public engagement.
In the commercial sector, our support for EATON in their efforts to communicate their power supply solutions and commitment to social responsibility in the reconstruction of a water station in Eastern Ukraine is a testament to meaningful and impactful PR initiatives.
Given the current challenges (and opportunities) how do you see the PR landscape changing in Ukraine over the next two years?
Y.M: The PR landscape in our market is currently undergoing rapid and unpredictable changes, especially in the realm of crisis communications. Given the dynamic nature of our circumstances, predicting the exact trajectory of change over the next two years is challenging. Looking back at the past year, it’s clear that unforeseen events have reshaped our strategies in ways we could not have foreseen. The uncertainty underscores the need for agile and adaptive approaches to our PR efforts
While we can’t precisely forecast the specific changes that will unfold in the next year or two, our commitment remains unwavering in staying attuned to shifts in the media landscape, audience preferences, and technological advancements. Our primary focus will be on maintaining flexibility and responsiveness to effectively navigate this ever-evolving PR landscape.
Discover more about our work in Ukraine, click here.