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Social and Digital In Brazil

 Ahh Brazil… An amazing country that is undergoing change so visceral that you can actually touch it as you walk down the main avenues of Sao Paulo.  Literally every other building is undergoing expansion, rehab or rebuild. And this is in a city of 20 million people. 

It is a country that is hyper-social as a component of its cultural roots.  A nation of people more likely to hug and kiss you than nod or bow.

People who love to talk, express and reach out.  And their warmth and natural inclinations expand into big trends for Social and Ecommerce. 

After attending and presenting the keynote at the Forum Ecommerce Brasil 2011 event (which had 1,500 attendees), I have a few learnings to report.  Here are some digital, ecommerce and social facts:
  • There are roughly 200 million Brazilians of which 80 million have internet access.  
  • Brazil has tremendous growth of their middle class who see internet access and a computer as key first purchases.
  • There are more cell phones in Brazil than there are Brazilians (yes, many have two).
  • Smartphone expansion is limited due to the high cost (partially due to import taxes). However, this will change as pricing comes down.
  • Brazil is the fastest growing country in terms of Twitter traffic.  And ranks number three in overall traffic at 6.8% (after US and UK).
  • Brazilians use Orkut as their primary social platform and are the largest users of that early Google platform along with India.  
  • Facebook growth is incredible as many in Brazil shift from Orkut.  In July 2011, 2 million Brazilians opened accounts on Facebook.
  • Ecommerce growth has been over 40% for two years, compare to 12% and 14% in the last two quarters in the US.
  • Ecommerce growth will be even more explosive as cost of shipping is reduced.  Today, most of the shipping must be done through Brazil’s postal service (some competition in big cities but limited).  
  • Another impediment is roads and airport infrastructure which is difficult to maintain in light of the massive traffic growth.  Traffic in airports has been double digits for years.

What’s going on in the digital industry?

Brazilian digital marketers are sophisticated and use the same marketing channels we use in the US.  Brazilian marketers and consumers are embracing Groupon and daily deal sites.  A large player in Brazil is a Gilt Group style player called Brandsclub which is storming the market.  There are over 12 thousand coupon websites in Brazil.  

What’s the Opportunity?

For US brands there are tremendous expansion opportunities in Brazil in both luxury and middle class sectors.  Also, US companies providing ecommerce or digital solutions will find that there are many niche opportunities still open for a first or second entrant.  The time is incredibly ripe at this moment and Brazil is at a proverbial tipping point.  I look forward to my next trip to see what’s grown, changed and developed.


About the author:  We invite SMC members to send Peter their questions or insights. Peter Leech provides ecommerce consulting as a Partner in The Partnering Group, a leading retail and consumer goods consultancy.  Previously, Peter was Chief Marketing Officer for several leading ecommerce retail businesses including Onlineshoes and Hanover Direct and led the Ecommerce business for Chico’sWhite House Black Market and Soma Intimates.

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