Notes from Brazil

22 Sep 2005|Added Value

As I write this, I’m on vacation sitting in a friend’s apartment in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Over the past 2 weeks I’ve been struck by how small the world is and yet how different its nuances.

For instance, today I was in Liberdade, a section of Sao Paulo populated by generations of Japanese immigrants where sushi bars and Sanrio knockoffs line the latern covered streets. As I was buying a coffee flask made in China from a Japanese man speaking Portuguese, my assembled in Mexico cell phone rang with a call from my car repair shop in San Francisco letting me know that my tires had arrived for my German made car.

While I was a bit overcome with that one world feeling, I still can’t ignore the differences that make my experiences here much different than those who call this home (aside from the fact that my Portuguese is at about the level of a 3-year old’s).

Take the idea of aspiration. Last week, shopping in Etna (a carbon copy of Ikea) it was clear that some things are universal – the desire to create a home and nicely furnish and decorate it.

But while for me, aspiring to own a nice home might mean establishing my place in a community and showing off my achievements, in Sao Paulo a nice home may mean something much different. In a city where guarded and gated entrances are the norm, and everyone tints their car windows to keep out prying eyes, home could just mean safety, security and escape from the threats and stress of the city.

How marketers take these nuances into consideration as they communicate on a more global level will always be important, regardless of how homogenous things seem on the surface. While grocery shopping at Santa Luzia on Alameda Lorena may not seem much different than the Whole Foods on Harrison St., what goes on in consumers minds just might be.

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