Market Insight: Ukraine

As we’ve covered a lot of the different aspects that go into market analysis, it seems only appropriate to apply it – in a general fashion.  We’ll start with Ukraine, because we have an office here and most of the OMS team also lives here.

The following information is not scientific, it draws from readily available official sources.  It has value for mobile app developers and advertisers with regards to aspects of app development/localization, demographics, market segments and pricing.  While it in no way guarantees performance of any given mobile app, it provides a basis for comparing to other markets and developing an appropriate marketing strategy.

One other note before jumping in – the base data serves to provide an “uppermost ceiling” on what could be expected with an all out effort.   Most developers are not going to be interested in THAT kind of data.  However, it can be used in conjunction with the earlier article, Four Major Reasons to Use Multiple Advertising Networks as relevant to User Bell Curves:


To recap briefly, it will be far easier to reach active and super users than inactive and rare users.  The degree of penetration desired beyond these sub-groups is for you to determine, suffice that the percentile figure you choose can then be used to structure your adspend across the different advertising networks to reach your selected demographics and user groups.   Again, this is not “scientific”, but between this kind of analysis coupled with your own research – you will have a much more refined marketing program than any arbitrary selection or reliance upon your default ad network.  Portions of your market will only be reached through different networks, thus diversification is important.

To add briefly to this point — major advertisers use multiple channels — television, radio, newspapers, direct mail, email, banner and display ads, mobile ads, and sometimes even big bulletin boards in the middle of the city or on the side of a bus.   Each works to a different degree and a certain manner.  Now… you could put up a big billboard ad in the middle of the city – but not everyone goes to the middle of the city.  Same online, not everyone visits the same places or takes the same route getting there.

The following shows the core demographic structure of Ukraine – in population, age/gender structure and a loose approximation of the number of those able to make online mobile payments.


One thing that stands out is that while the average yearly income in Ukraine is just under $4k, it has a purchasing power of nearly $7.4k.  But the average means very little when one considers the disparity of income between Ukraine’s rural and urban areas.  Generally, those who live in the capitol, Kyiv – earn about twice as much as anyone in the other major cities like Lviv, Dnepropetrovsk, Odessa or Kharkiv.  And again, those in the major cities generally make twice as much as those living in outlying areas like Vinnitsa.  There are a lot of variances – even by profession.

It also stands to be noted that an estimate third (probably half) of Ukraine’s real GDP resides within an unreported “shadow economy” – money in circulation that doesn’t pass through the banks.  Many Ukrainians have an active distrust of banks owing to their complete bottoming out in the transition from the Soviet Union to an Independent Ukraine.   Lots of people lost all of their life savings, consequently it is not uncommon for people to store their money in their mattress, closet, cookie jar.

Other aspects of Ukraine’s economy also deserve note.  One other consequence of the transition away from communism is that almost everyone received a place to live – a place that they own.  Getting on 25 years later, some families have sold the apartment or house that they “inherited from the state”, but for the most part almost every “family” in Ukraine can boast of at least one family member who owns their apartment or house outright – no mortgage payments.  They still pay property taxes, but nothing like you would expect in say… Massachusetts.

While there are a great many of interesting things about Ukraine, it can be generally said that there is significantly more of a market in Ukraine than what the official figures might indicate.  Almost everyone has a mobile phone, many people have 2… or more.  Ukraine also boasts a top 20 Internet speed and its software industry is consistently showing good growth.   Okay… yeah… I could go on and on… I love Ukraine and especially Odessa.

That’s not what you’re here for though… heh…

So, in the demographics above – three age/gender segments are selected – males 15-24, females 25 – 54 and males 25 – 54.  Let’s say we are going to market a mobile game that would really only appeal to these age/gender groups.   Any could be selected, but by and large – almost all of the 55+ age groups can be ruled out for any kind of mobile app.  They do have mobile phones and other devices, but mostly these are all used for calling and talking to people.  Mostly.

That’s a rough example of segmenting the total population.   While the overall mobile device usage in Ukraine is close to 90%, we can guess that these segments (and females 15-24) have close to 100% mobile device ownership.  Otherwise, we would break it down further with a % of mobile users.

There’s also the matter of payment systems – how many people within a market have a credit card that can be used to order products online, or who have an alternative payment system that matches what you have available to you.   This is critical for anyone marketing a premium app.  In some countries, this can be as low as 2%, others as high as 75%.  For our purposes, we are using a straight 25% for Ukraine.  Those who don’t have credit cards may still be able to process payments through their mobile phone network.

And from here, we get into the ownership rate of Mobile Devices and which Operating Systems they use.  Screen size could also be relevant in some cases.  This all has to be customized to what you are doing.  HOWEVER, you can also take a look at what the market is doing and apply your efforts accordingly.

One of the sources available for determining what the breakout and usage of specific devices is StatCounter.   You can apply that information to your market segment to give you a rough estimate of the total number of people using a specific device/platform.

Here are a few examples:





But what is the Qualified Target Audience and Why are the Figures sooo Low?

Glad you asked!   The Qualified Target Audience is the total number of people that you would be interested in your mobile app – based upon the Platform and Genre.  Where usage by Platform is easy to find with the StatCounter, interest by Genre requires more research and likely some sample testing to determine interest level.   In this example, a Game is involved and the estimated interest level is 30%.

Premium apps are likely only interested in reaching users that can pay.  Free apps are interested in both.  Freemium would be marketed to both, but interested in the upgrade potential.

Other devices are used in Ukraine, too – Samsung and Windows, but both markets are significantly smaller in comparison to those shown above.

Saturation vs. Segmentation by User Group

These figures taken, as they are, provide a sort of “top level ceiling” – a maximum number of people in Ukraine that you could entice to try your mobile app.  I think that alone serves as reasonable basis to do a follow-up article on “Cost Per Install” advertising.  If you are looking to maximize your app’s presence in Ukraine’s mobile app market — these are figures close to what you are looking to see,  or more realistically, 50-75% of it.

If you are looking to capture the low-hanging fruit – the people easiest to reach, then you would be looking to structure your adspend across different networks to reach about 5 – 20%, possibly as much as 30% of these figures.  Give or take, it is unique to each app and advertising budget.

This being a bit long, will cut it short here.  More of this kind will follow, but I will aim to be more concise.   Ukraine has a lot more going for it than most of the western world gives it credit for — and all of that before even factoring that $1 here is like $2 in a lot of other places.   Odessa is a wonderful city, kind of like a cross between small-town New England and New Orleans before Katrina.


Project Manager at the Opera Mobile Store providing Sales-Marketing support. Content development and research.

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