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Anteja Klimek: An example of success in patriotic Poland

Poland is a country shaped by geopolitical history

To understand Polish culture, you ideally need to appreciate its geopolitical background. Located at a geographical crossroads in central Europe, and [now] sharing borders with seven nations, Poland has a complex regional history. The repeatedly shifting borders of Poland’s past, and the resulting cross-national and regional migrations, means that Polish people typically have roots in other cultural and ethnic backgrounds. 

The desire for a sense of belonging and place is still strong

As a result of its unstable history, there’s a strong focus on maintaining a secure sense of place throughout Poland. This also manifests as a shared desire to protect Polish culture from dilution. The people of Poland are proudly patriotic and try to support the country’s internal resources – including native technologies, professionals, brands and products. Micro-businesses are actively supported. Word of mouth recommendation tends to drive the acceptance of new services, schemes, products, brands and businesses. 

Regional specificities are visible across the country, but become more uniformed in Poland’s cities. However, expressions of ethnic origin are increasingly regaining presence. The younger generations, in particular, embrace entrepreneurism. The small businesses that they launch transfer cross-cultural learnings and share traditional fashion, music, crafts, ceramics, furniture and other skills. 

Home-making is a ritual through which Poles answer to their aspiration for life fulfilment

The importance of nurturing a strong sense of belonging and place amongst the Polish is echoed by a keen impulse for home-making. After the fall of communism in 1989, property ownership skyrocketed. The concept of owning one’s own four-corners and the notion of home became associated with achieving uninterrupted stability. Building, adapting, improving, reinventing and caring for the home is a ritual through which Poles answer to their aspiration for life fulfilment. 

Foreign businesses need to tap into consumer motivations and needs to succeed in Poland 

This is probably why, despite the preference for supporting Polish businesses, Castorama – a French DIY company that belongs to the Kingfisher Group – entered the market so successfully in 1997. A portfolio of other companies, also belonging to the Kingfisher Group, have likewise assimilated successfully in many cities and suburbs. These stores cater for a mix of different needs, from tinkering DIY-ers to professional tradespeople, investor contractors and independent construction workers. 

This case study is interesting. It shows that exploring beyond the generalised view of a country or region can unveil opportunities. Kingfisher has managed to localise well in Poland because it taps into consumer motivations so directly. It has achieved great success while many other foreign retail conglomerates would struggle in such a nationalistic environment.

 

Anteja is a Local Researcher at intO, specialising in qualitative research, foresight strategy and service design. Throughout her research work, Anteja has acquired extensive knowledge about political and socio-cultural shifts, and the development of behaviour trends across all generations in Poland.  Anteja is currently based in Poland and also the UK and speaks Polish, English, Russian and German.

Retail Strategy Business Publications Social Change Research


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