Romania is the 45th market to be added to our global consumer survey.
This means throughout 2019, we’ll be interviewing over 5,000 Romanian internet users aged 16-64.
And with 72% of Romanians having access to the internet, compared to the fast-growth markets we track its online population is relatively similar to its total population, giving us an accurate reading across all major demographics.
This includes everything from their demographics, attitudes and interests to their online activities, social media usage, media consumption and brand engagement.
Here, we look at 5 of the key defining characteristics of these consumers.
1. Romanians are spontaneous, but frugal consumers.
Internet users in Romania are most likely in their late thirties, married (49%) and working full-time (58%). A large majority of them (77%) live in urban locations, but there is an above-average representation in rural areas as well.
Compared to other markets, Romanians are 55% more likely to fall into our spontaneous ¹ attitudinal segment. Around 7 in 10 like to try new products and pursue a life of challenge, novelty and change, while 1 in 2 identify themselves as risk-takers.
This is also reflected in their relationship with brands. Romanians are 40% more likely than the average global internet user to want their favorite brands to provide innovative and new products. This is, in fact, their most prominent request, cited by 36% of respondents.
This is an audience that wants to stand out in the crowd and show off with their new purchases.
Things like brand community, on the other hand, have a relatively lesser impact. Only 23% say they would buy a product or service simply for the experience of being part of the community built around it, and a very small minority (6%) want brands to connect them with other fans of the same brand.
Despite their spontaneity though, Romanians tend to be quite a frugal cohort.
8 in 10 say they always try to find the best deals for the products they want to buy. A third also use price comparison websites to research products.
2. Romania is a country of home-owners.
According to our research, Romania has the highest rate of privately-owned properties after China.
69% of Romanians own at least one property outright, compared to 77% of internet users in China.
But being a home-owner in the former is profoundly different from owning a property in the latter. As a developing economy, China’s internet users tend to skew young, urban and affluent, while the opposite is true for online adults in mature markets like Romania.
What’s more, buying a property (other than the one you live in) as an investment is much more popular in China (23%) than it is in Romania (8%).
This is because Romania’s high home-ownership rate doesn’t have much to do with affluence or financial security. There are other historical socio-economic factors at play here.
- Rapid shift of housing property rights: Massive privatization of state-owned housing after the fall of the Soviet Union back in the 1990s when homes were the same price as a TV.
- Virtually absent rental market: Currently, only 12% of Romanians rent the property they live in, going down to 3% among 55-64s. As a comparison, the figure throughout the rest of Europe is 23% for the same demographic group. This is because, in many cases, it’s cheaper and easier to get a mortgage than to pay rent in this market.
3. Romania is not moving to a post-PC landscape yet.
Although on a global level, we’re seeing more and more online behaviors migrate to smartphones, especially among younger demographics; 16-24-year-olds in Romania still spend around an hour longer on PCs, laptops or tablets than on the smaller screen.
It’s clear that computers remain an important device, particularly in the realms of commerce and entertainment, and they continue to capture the biggest share of online time among Romanian internet users.
When it comes to completing a purchase online, 54% of Romanian digital consumers turn to computers, compared to 33% who prefer their mobiles.
PCs and laptops are still generally perceived by many in Romania to offer the best functionality and security when it comes to sensitive and financial information.
It’s also important to note that multi-device usage is now the norm and mobiles encourage people to spend longer online, rather than at the expense of their time on desktops.
They should be seen more as complementary screens serving a different purpose, and those that can be used on the go.
One of the areas where the smartphone has managed to stamp its mark in online entertainment is engagement with video.
Consumers here are now more likely to watch video clips, and to share or upload videos using their smartphones, but this is mainly driven by younger users and it’s not yet the case for 45-64 year-olds.
4. Huawei is a more prominent mobile brand than Apple.
While the Romanian mobile market is very much dominated by Samsung, with 51% currently owning one and 74% considering it as their top choice for an upgrade, the battle for second place is between Huawei and Apple.
Looking at the mobile brands Romanian consumers own at the moment, we can see that 19% have a Huawei, while 14% own an iPhone. The gap between the two brands gets even wider in favor of Huawei when we look at future considerations.
This could be due to variety of reasons such as a lower price tag or a higher compatibility with other tech.
However, stark differences emerge when we break consumers down by age.
Those aged 16-34 are more or less equally divided between the two smartphone providers for current ownership, but a clear preference for Huawei comes to the fore as internet users get older.
The same applies for future consideration, with the exception of 16-24s who are a lot more likely to prefer iPhone (50%) than Huawei (33%) as the next upgrade to their phone.
Despite its popularity though, the future of the brand in the West remains uncertain since Google has now effectively banned Huawei from access to key Android apps, while Microsoft removed Huawei’s MateBook X Pro from its store shelves.
5. TV ads and company emails or letters are key for brand discovery.
At the very start of the purchase journey, when consumers are discovering new products or services, more traditional channels still have an important role to play in this country.
Romania ranks in the top 3 countries worldwide for discovering brands via TV ads.
Company emails or letters also prove particularly effective in the market, with internet users here being twice as likely as all digital adults around the world to find out about new brands via these channels. In fact:
Romania is the only one among our 45 tracked markets that features ‘emails or letters from companies’ in the top 3 brand discovery channels.
This is good news for brands targeting Romanian internet users, offering a key route to engagement.
This audience also spends an average of 2h 34m watching broadcast TV every day, which is around 35 minutes longer than the average digital adult.
What’s more, while watching TV, they’re 44% more likely to be using another device to read their emails (65% do). This comes even before the usually very popular activities of messaging friends and playing games.
When it comes to branded content, emails perform better than blogs. A quarter of Romanians have read an email or newsletter from a brand in the past month, compared to 15% who have read a branded blog.
Brands that want to reach this audience need to be proactive with email campaigns, but personalization is key for engagement. This is generally not a brand conscious audience, so companies and their products would really need to cut through the noise to win Romanians over as consumers.
¹Spontaneous are internet users who somewhat/strongly agree with at least two of the following statements: I always like to try new products; I am a risk taker; I like to pursue a life of challenge, novelty and change; I tend to make decisions quickly, based on ‘gut feeling’; Other people view me as adventurous. They also strongly/somewhat disagree with both of the following: It is important to be well informed about things; When buying products and services, I always like to seek an expert opinion before purchasing.