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In modern marketplaces, characterized by high levels of product homogeneity and increasing competitive pressures, brand positioning is crucial to differentiate a firms offerings from those of competitors, as well as to raise consumers interest. Brand positioning describes the activity of creating a distinct and desirable brand image in consumers minds [1]. Specifically, brand positioning aims to create and foster strong, favorable, and unique brand associations; these associations make up the image of a brand and endow its products with added value that ultimately affects consumers brand consideration and choice [2]. Put differently, the goal of brand positioning is to enhance brand equity, which is the ultimate goal of a firms branding efforts. This substantial role in driving brand equity makes brand positioning an important firm capability.
Brand positioning strategies become manifest in the market in distinct forms. For ex-ample, in the automotive industry, Porsches brand positioning emphasizes associations of prestige and elitism; Toyota focuses on innovative solutions with the aim of being perceived as visionary and progressive; and Fords positioning stresses its functionality, simplicity, and groundedness. Similar patterns can be observed in the fashion industry. While some brands, such as Ralph Lauren, emphasize associations that carry a sense of elegance and upper class, other brands, such as Nike or Levis, stress associations with ambition and innovativeness or underscore their products pragmatism and simplicity.

Given the widespread recognition of brand positioning as a vital part of firms marketing strategies, it is important to understand the role that brand positioning plays within the brand value creation process. A recent empirical study [3] tested the impact of the three above mentioned positioning strategies (i.e., strategies that focus on status, innovativeness, or simplicity perceptions) on the two key brand equity dimensions from Young and Rubicams Brand Asset Valuator Relevant Stature and Energized Differentiation [4]. Relevant Stature reflects consumers regard towards the brand together with beliefs about its quality, reliability, and leadership, as well as the extent to which individuals view the brand as personally meaningful. Energized Differentiation indicates the degree to which a brand is perceived as unique and distinct from competition, as well as innovative and dynamic. The analyses were based on an extensive dataset comprising 502 brands from 19 diverse product and service categories.
The results suggest that a clear brand positioning indeed has significant effects on brandequity. Some of the main results of the study and their managerial implications can be summarized as follows:

- Relevant Stature is primarily enhanced by positioning strategies that stress a brands simplicity and groundedness, suggesting that consumers tend to value down to earth and straightforward brands in todays complex world.

- The brands credibility (i.e., a brands perceived ability and willingness to deliver on its promises) enhances the positive effect of a simplicity-oriented positioning on brands relevance to customers. Thus, managers should invest in building credibility, for example, through increased marketing-mix consistency and clarity of the product information.

- Energized Differentiation is mainly reinforced by a positioning that fosters an image of innovative, visionary thinking, and moving with the times. In view of increasing and ever-changing customer expectations, such a positioning that taps into the values of innovation and progress gains the brand not only a differentiated but also a highly regarded perception in the marketplace.

- Status- or prestige-oriented brands have moderate effects on both brand equity dimensions. Thereby, managers are adviced to increase their brands visibility (e.g., through product placements or sponsorships) since it can be considered a prerequisite for the brands social status-enhancing properties. In other words, if the consumption and/or use of a brand is visible to others, then the brand can best fulfill the owners social approval and self-enhancement needs [5].

In view of the above, managers should carefully consider the suitability of alternative brand positionings based on their strategic goals, taking into account the specifics of their brand.

1. Kotler, Philip (2003), Marketing management (11th edition). New Jersey: Prentice-Hall.

2. Keller, Kevin L. (1993), Conceptualizing, Measuring, and Managing Customer-Based Brand Equity, Journal of Marketing, 57 (1), 122.
3. Mandler, T., Gawrisch, K., & Klein, K. (2020), Locating Brand Positioning Within the Brand Value Chain: The Role of Major Brand Positioning Strategies in Creating Consumer-Based Brand Equity,Working paper.
5. Mandler, Timo, Marius Johnen, and Jan-Frederik Gräve (2019), Cant Help Falling in Love? How Brand Luxury Generates Positive Consumer Affect in Social Media,Journal of Business Research, forthcoming.

September 19, 2020 | Dr. Katharina Gawrisch (University of Mannheim, Germany)


- Gawrisch, K. (2020). Essays on Customer Management and Brand Management [unpublished dissertation]. University of Mannheim.

- Mandler, T., Gawrisch, K., & Klein, K. (2020), Locating Brand Positioning Within the Brand Value Chain: The Role of Major Brand Positioning Strategies in Creating Consumer-Based Brand Equity, Working paper.


Consumers buy services and physical products to have experiences. Accordingly, what managers must understand is that goods and services are simply a means to an end with no value in and of themselves. Consequently, to survive and thrive in todays turbulent, highly competitive business environment, high-quality offerings alone are not sufficient. Instead companies are forced to compete on the basis of offering excellent customer experiences along all stages of the buying process.

According to a survey conducted by the Kellogg School of Management at the Northwestern University (Chicago) in 2018 more than 80% of customers now consider the experience to be at least as important as the physical product [1]. Moreover, 73% of customers expect companies to better understand their needs and expectations, with 54% of customers believing that most firms do not use customer data in a way that would benefit them [2]. In other words, customers actions become more and more experience-driven, and managers increasingly recognize this trend. A study conducted by Accenture in cooperation with Forrester reveals that improving the customer experience is a top priority of executives [4].

That customer experience management is a truly customer-centric concept is nicely reflected in the quote by Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon [5]: We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It is our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better. Importantly, the company seems to take this statement very seriously: In April 2019, Amazons CFO, Brian Olsavsky, announced that the firm would spend $800 million to transition to one-day shipping for Prime in order to improve the customer experience and make Prime membership even more irresistible to consumers [5].

Apparently, such relentlessly customer-oriented actions do indeed pay off. Academic research links customer experience to several outcomes that managers strive to achieve with respect to, for example, customer satisfaction, loyalty, word-of mouth behavior, and share-of-wallet. The benefits of superior customer experience can be easily underpinned with actual numbers. For example, regarding willingness-to-pay it has been estimated that the price premium of a satisfying experience ranges between 7% and 16% [6]. In addition, research shows that customer experience correlates significantly with repurchasing intentions (correlation coefficient = .82), highlighting the role of customer experience excellence for building loyalty [7]. Moreover, the quality of experiences has a huge impact on word-of-mouth: About 95% of consumers tell others about bad experiences, which might considerably affect a companys long-term business [8]. Finally, there also exists evidence about the connection between customer experience and brand awareness, CLV, share price, and revenues. Consequently, there remains no doubt that customer experience is a key management approach that should go to the heart of the companys mission and its strategic choices.









September 28, 2020 | Dr. Katharina Gawrisch (University of Mannheim, Germany)

Oleksandr Gavrysh

Innovative trends in the market of dry gypsum mixes in Ukraine

1 Introduction

The market for dry gypsum mixes in Ukraine has been changing dynamically over the past 10 years. The number of market participants grows, their behavior changes according to the circumstances that influence the development of the market. One observes the structural change in the range: the products of the premium class are falling in favor of the cheaper goods. Imports shrink due to the weak currency (UAH). The comparative analysis (tests) of several brands represented on the market has shown the stable quality of most products with few exceptions. In the research into consumer value in the comparative analysis of the consumption properties of dry gypsum mixtures, the rheological properties and surface qualities came to the fore.
2. Execution of the experiment

2.1. Analysis of the market of dry gypsum mixes

The dry gypsum mix market in Ukraine arose from imports of modern building materials from the West and Turkey in the 1990s. At the beginning of the 21st century, several domestic plants for the production of dry gypsum mixtures were built. Today there are at least a dozen locations. This promoted the development of the Ukrainian gypsum industry as a whole: several gypsum deposits were developed and new capacities were created for the production of stucco plaster as a raw material for the manufacture of mainly two innovative products on the Ukrainian market - plasterboard and dry plaster mixes.

The production of gypsum binder and gypsum building materials depends mainly on macroeconomic factors: during the construction boom 2004 - 2008 the production of gypsum binder grew 3.6 times [1]. The fastest growth was observed in 2007 and 2008 (approx. 55% annually). As a result of the crisis, production shrank by around 30% in 2009. In 2012, the production of gypsum binder was about 1300 thousand tons, in 2014 and 2015 sales decreased due to the political turmoil and the provisional losses of the territory in the east and south of Ukraine.

According to the experts, the market for dry gypsum mixtures in Ukraine in 2018 was around 700 thousand tons, which is almost 3% more than in the previous year.

The suppliers are both domestic producers (Aqualit, Budmeister, Krumix, Master, Gelios, Knauf, Polirem, Polimin, Siltek, Siniat, etc.) as well as importers (ABS, Atlas, Alpol Gips, BPB (Rigips), BelGIPS, Ekogips, Eurogips , Lafarge, Semin, Vetonit and others).

The crisis in the Ukrainian economy and the weak currency (UAH) contributed to the decline in imports. In 2015, for example, the share of Turkish producers, who have traditionally dominated the Ukrainian market since the beginning of the century, decreased to only 11.5% of the market for dry gypsum mixtures, which is 12.5% ​​less than in the previous year. One also observes the constant change in the assortment of dry mixes as well as in the price policy for this group of goods, which is an object of product research.
2.2. Merchandise research in the field of building materials

For the past 10 years, the Department of Goods Science and Commercial Activity in Construction at the Kiev National University of Construction and Architecture has been conducting research related to improving the structure and increasing the physical and technical properties of aerated concrete and foam plaster products. In addition, new composites based on silicate and gypsum as well as new products with improved properties are created on their basis. Finally, one researches building material markets and consumption properties of building materials at the stage of their selection and use [2; 3; 4].

The subject of scientific research in commodity science is the consumer value of a commodity, which is defined in specialist literature as a customer benefit, which in turn manifests itself in the totality of the consumer properties of this commodity [3]. Both laboratory and organoleptic methods were used in the comparative analysis of the goods according to their consumer value. Dry mixes are products that can have three different qualitative states in different stages of their life cycle: powder-like substance (bulk material), mortar and artificial stone, which is formed as a result of the hardening of the mortar. In each state: bulk - mortar - hardened mortar, they have a number of consumer properties (Table 1). Furthermore, an attempt is made to use the methods customary in product knowledge (expert assessment, ranking of properties and determination of their importance) as well as methods of qualimetry to carry out the comparative analysis of some dry gypsum mixtures available on the market with the aim of recording their consumer value and then a classification (Classification) of these goods, ie to determine the groups of goods with the high, medium and low consumer value.

For this purpose, thirteen samples of dry gypsum plasters represented on the Ukrainian market were selected: commercial brands (H) nauf Rotband, nauf HP Start, nauf MP-75 (manufacturer - nauf Gips Donbass, Soledar, Donetsk Region, Ukraine); H "BelGIPS plaster - active", "BelGIPS - sloj", "BelGIPS plaster eko" (manufacturer - "Belgips", Minsk, Belarus); HM "ELIT GIPS - Siva" (manufacturer - AYTAS ALCI, Ankara, Turkey); H "EUROGIPS iso power" (manufacturer - unknown because no information about it was placed on the sack, presumably - Turkey); H "PLATO Start", "PLATO gypsum wall", "PLATO partition wall", "PLATO Multi Start" (manufacturer - "Siniat", Bachmut Donetsk region, Ukraine), H "Master G - Start" (manufacturer - "Master", Odessa , Ukraine), HM "KRUMIX KM-75" (manufacturer PAT Ivano-Frankivsk cement "). The consumer properties of these goods were ranked according to expert assessments. The experts were the representatives of the building material manufacturers and trading companies, construction workers in the field of plastering and end users of plastering work (building owners and residents). The weighting factors (GF) of these properties were calculated according to the corresponding rank (R) (Tab. 1). According to the assessment system with a scale from one (does not meet the requirements and / or expectations) to five (completely meets the requirements and / or expectations), the properties of the selected patterns were given a certain degree. The value factor (WF) of each property was calculated taking the weighting factor into account. The totality of the value factors characterizes the consumer value of each commodity and illustrates the strengths or weaknesses when comparing one commodity with the other.

3. Results and discussion

When comparing the results of the laboratory tests (Tab. 2), we assume that higher results increase the consumer value of the goods, although this is not always the case because of the complexity of the plastering systems. As you can see, the dry mixes with the least amount of screen residue (Knauf Rotband, PLATO and BelGIPS sloj) can be described as finishing plasters, i.e. plasters that do not require filling.

The composition of the recipe (% of binding agents and type of additives) directly influence the rheological properties of the mortar and the strength of the plaster system.

According to the rating system with a scale from one to five, the properties of the samples listed in the table were given a certain degree. Taking into account the weighting factor of each property, the value factor was calculated for each sample.

The investigations of the microstructure of the selected samples of the hardened mortar were carried out with the aid of the REMMA 102-02 scanning electron microscope, working segment + 20mm, beam source voltage 20kW, high vacuum 2x10-6. Figures 2-4 show the microstructure of the gypsum plasters KNAUF, AYTAS ALCI and MASTER.

The microstructure of the hardened mortar of the gypsum plaster Knauf HP Start (manufacturer - "nauf Gips Donbass", Soledar, Donetsk Region, Ukraine) (Fig.2) is dense and has fairly small gypsum crystals with a complete shape. Organic aggregates are evenly distributed between the crystals.

Figure 3 shows the microstructure of the hardened mortar of the gypsum plaster ELIT GIPS - Siva (manufacturer - AYTAS ALCI, Ankara, Turkey). The crystals of gypsum are quite uneven - from 0.1 to 1.5 mm, the structure of the surface is generally layered. Organic aggregates are distributed unevenly between the crystals and form films of different thicknesses.

The microstructure of the hardened mortar of the gypsum plaster Master G - Start (manufacturer - "Master", Odessa, Ukraine) (Fig. 4) shows rather small plate-shaped gypsum crystals. Organic aggregates in the form of micro-concretions form films on their surface. The microstructure of the selected pattern of the gypsum plaster shows great differences. Such phenomena as uneven distribution of the organic aggregates, layered surfaces and / or the formation of films have a negative influence on the rheology of the plasters from our point of view.

When comparing the results of the plastering tests with their practical use on the stand, organoleptic methods were used to assess rheological properties. As is known, a distinction is made between four quality levels for plaster surfaces. Level Q1 is achieved if at least five technological steps are taken by skilled cleaning staff: adding water, mixing, spraying, spreading and pulling out. For the surface with quality level Q2 you should take one more step - scratching. Quality level Q3 is reached with a further step - felting and Q4 - with additional smoothing. The work on the implementation of the corresponding technological steps in cleaning was rated by specialists on a scale from one to five. The highest grade (5) was given to plasters, the processing of which was carried out very easily and the corresponding surface quality could be achieved without any problems. The lowest grade (1) was given to dry mixes that were difficult to work with or impossible to achieve a certain quality level. Based on these assessments and taking into account the weighting factor, the value factor was calculated for each sample.

Table 3 shows the results of the organoleptic and laboratory tests of the selected dry gypsum plasters. The highest grade (complex value factor) can thus be 15, i.e. the selected samples of the gypsum plaster in 3 stages of the life cycle (bulk material, mortar and hardened mortar) received the highest grade 5 in the expert assessments.

4. Summary

The comparative analysis of dry gypsum plasters represented on the Ukrainian market shows that they can be divided into at least three groups according to their consumer value in analogy with the classification of houses and apartments: premium, standard and economic (social). The premium group includes plasters with the highest consumer value (WF 15-13.5), which are also known as finish plasters. This means that they not only have the best consumer properties, but also allow the surface quality levels Q4 and Q3 to be achieved and an additional technological step - filling - to be dispensed with. According to our investigations, TM Knauf Rotband, PLATO Trennwand and BelGIPS sloj belong to this group. The standard group includes plasters with values ​​that are slightly higher than the norm and have excellent rheological properties (WF 13.5-12): Knauf HP Start, Knauf MP 75, PLATO gypsum wall, PLATO Start (Q3) and PLATO Multi Start, BelGIPS gypsum active (Q2). The third economic group includes plasters with relatively low consumer properties. They have a relatively low proportion of binding agent and a slightly higher proportion of additives (e.g. quartz sand).

This is why such plasters are only used in locations where there are no requirements for the quality of the surface (Q1) or where the surface is subsequently filled (Q2) (WF 12 -11.5). According to the plasterers' estimates, these dry mixes already have poor rheological properties in the technological step of spreading. These are TM Elit Gips Start Siva, BelGIPS plaster eko, KRUMIX KM-75 (Q2) and Eurogips iso power, Master G-Start (Q1).

Oleksandr Gavrysh

Merchandise evaluation and market analysis of plasterboard in Ukraine


Plasterboard is analyzed and assessed from the point of view of modern commodity science. First, the market of plasterboard in Ukraine was examined by volume as well as by main operators. Then the consumption properties of plasterboard were recorded and ranked according to their weighting. This ranking showed considerable differences at different stages of the life cycle. For the production of plasterboard, for example, low mass and the external appearance of the goods are most important. For the application stage, flexibility and ease of processing are relevant, and for use - functionality and strength. Such an assessment of the consumer value of the goods enables statements to be made regarding the tendencies of the further development of the drywall market.

Analysis of the plasterboard market

Plasterboards are used in the expansion of houses as dry plaster or to clad the walls and ceilings, as well as to erect partition walls or as fire-resistant cladding of the building structures. The market of plasterboards in Ukraine was almost 55 million m2 in 2018 (Chart 1). In 2003 - 2008 the market grew from GBP 27.0 million m2 to 91.5 million m2 [1]. This means that sales have grown 3.4 times in 5 years. In 2009 sales fell by almost a third. In 2010 - 2011 growth is observed again: it was almost reached the level of 2007, but in 2012 the figures fell again and in 2013 - 2014 the market remained at the level of 2009. Due to macroeconomic factors (economic crises) and as a result of the loss of territories in the south and east of Ukraine, the market volume in 2015 was again 15% lower than in the previous year. In recent years the market has shown growth again (although only to a very small extent). The GBP market in Ukraine is represented by two domestic producers (Knauf, Siniat) and a few importers (mainly Rigips). In 2015 a new importer appeared on the GBP market - Wolma (Russia), which delivered GBP 0.3m2 under the brand "Belgips" from Minsk Gypsum Factory to Ukraine.

Merchandise research in the field of drywall

At the Department of Goods Science and Commercial Activity in Construction at the Kiev National University of Construction and Architecture, in addition to building material market analyzes, research has been carried out over the past 10 years, which is aimed at improving the structure and increasing the physical and technical properties of products made of aerated concrete and foam plaster are connected. In addition, new composites based on silicate and gypsum as well as new products with improved properties are created on their basis. Finally, one researches building material markets and consumption properties of building materials at the stage of their production, use and use.

The subject of scientific research in commodity science is the consumer value of a commodity, which is defined in specialist literature as a customer benefit, which in turn manifests itself in the entirety of the consumer properties of this commodity. Both laboratory and organoleptic methods are used in the comparative analysis of goods according to their consumer value. Plasterboard have certain properties in different stages of their life cycle (manufacture, application, use), which differ considerably according to the ranking of importance (Table 1). Furthermore, an attempt is made to use the methods customary in commodity science (expert assessment, ranking of properties and determination of their importance) as well as methods of qualimetry to carry out the merchandise assessment of the properties of GBP with the aim of recording their consumer value and then drawing conclusions on the Draw trends in the development of drywall.

We summarize the production stage (E1) broadly - from the manufacture of the goods in the factory to the storage of these products during sale and, finally, to their transport to the construction site. Low mass is relevant for production because of cost savings, therefore producers strive to minimize the weight of the plasterboard. Thus, the mass of 1 m2 of the usual 12.5 mm board for the leading market operators is approx. 8 kg (for the competitors - up to 10 kg). This minimization has a natural limit - standardized flexural strength of the plasterboard . The appearance of the face of plasterboard is important when selling.

At the stage of of processing plasterboard(E 2), according to experts, its flexibility and ease of processing are most important. This has to do with the fact that more and more people in Ukraine are deciding to renovate or expand their houses or apartments for so-called "Euroreovation" - a term for the CIS countries. Interior designers offer a wide range of solutions for the design of the rooms, which can only be achieved relatively quickly and cheaply with the help of drywall construction. Design blankets are particularly popular. A wide variety of shapes can be produced with flexible plasterboard - from simple undulating to vaults (e.g. barrel vaults, monastery vaults, hollow vaults, mirror vaults, cross vaults, dome vaults, etc.). Such work requires certain training and competence of the fitters as well as the GBP, which are easy to work on. Hard, poorly flexible and heavy plates are not suitable for carrying out such work.

In the stage of use of the plasterboard (E 3), strength and functionality play a role. When industrial plasterboard production began in Ukraine after World War II, drywall construction got a bad reputation due to poor quality of building materials and unprofessional execution work. That is why our experts decided that the systems must first and foremost be stable. In the second place is functionality - one of the most important properties of every product. Recently plasterboards with improved functional properties appeared on the Ukrainian market. Knauf is a leader in this field and markets its products with special properties under certain brands. In addition to fire-resistant panels, which, due to the cardboard sheathing, belong to building material class A2 (contains combustible components), e.g. Fireboard panels are offered. They are covered with a non-flammable fleece made of glass wool and thus belong to building material class A1 (does not contain any flammable components). In addition to water-repellent panels, type E panels are also offered, which, thanks to their increased functionality, can also be used for exterior paneling.

There are also a number of special panels that have very specific properties due to the addition of certain additives to the gypsum core [6]. These include Diamant hard plasterboards, which are characterized by a particularly hard core and resistant cardboard and are used in all areas of interior construction as planking with increased noise protection, fire protection and strength requirements. In order to build modern cooling and heating ceiling constructions with the help of dry construction, Knauf Thermoboard panels are offered that have increased parameters of thermal conductivity. One of the most modern, innovative building materials is definitely GBP Comfortboard, which has a climate-regulating function through the addition of microencapsulated latent heat storage (paraffin wax) to the board core. By changing the state of aggregation of the wax (rigid - liquid), the excess heat is either stored (cooling) or released (heating of the rooms). Plasterboard Safeboard was developed as an alternative to lead-laminated panels for radiation protection. They contain the salt barium sulfate (BaSO4) in their gypsum core and can therefore be used in areas exposed to x-rays. In order to combat odors in rooms, panels were created with a synthetic hydrophobic zeolite in the gypsum core - Knauf Cleaneo. Perforated Cleaneo boards are known as Cleaneo Acoustic Ceilings - another example of the wide range of combinable functionality. Unexpectedly low in the survey was the assessment of the importance of the LCA values ​​of GBP. Almost all respondents agreed that the LCA methods for assessing products are currently not up-to-date in Ukraine.


Drywall has developed very intensively in Ukraine, with an annual increase of around 30% since the beginning of the century. In the meantime the following tendencies could be determined. First, the leading producers have reduced the mass of plasterboard by around 10 to 15%. Secondly, as a result, the flexibility and ease of processing of the plasterboard increased, which contributed to the more intensive use of this building material in the creation of design surfaces in the extension of buildings. Plasterboard became the favorite material of interior designers in search of non-repeatable shapes. Thirdly, the flexural strength of the plasterboard grew or remained at a normatively high level as the main characteristic of the high quality of dry construction systems when they are used in the eyes of the end user. Fourth, the plasterboard range increased. At the beginning of the century, there were mainly four to five types of panels on the Ukrainian market: common 9.5 and 12.5 mm thick, water-repellent, fire-resistant, and water-repellent and fire-resistant all rolled into one. Today, new types of plasterboards have appeared on the market not only in terms of dimensions, but also in terms of their functionality. The German company Knauf is leading in the creation of new products with special functionality, which offers the following boards, among others: Diamant, Fireboard, Silentboard, Thermoboard, Comfortboard, Safeboard, Cleaneo and others, which can be described as intelligent building materials based on their behavior.

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