A Guide to Doing Business in Brazil

Country Overview

Brazil is a country known for its diverse and colorful culture. Brazil is South America’s largest country in both total area and population. They are the world’s fifth largest country in terms of population and seventh largest in terms of economy. Whether you’re looking to partner with an existing business in Brazil or simply looking to reach Brazilian customers using a website here are few important considerations for targeting a Brazilian audience.

Languages

Brazilian Portuguese is spoken by nearly all of Brazil’s 211 million people, and it is their official language. The language is used in newspapers, radio, television, business, and government. Many Brazilians view Portuguese language as a part of their national identity since they are the only Portuguese-speaking nation in North and South America.

Most of the world’s Portuguese speakers speak Brazilian Portuguese. The language differs from European Portuguese regarding vocabulary choices and pronouns, similar to American English vs. British English. The Portuguese Language Orthographic Agreement was signed in 1990. The goal of the Community of Portuguese-speaking countries (CPLP) was to standardize Portuguese language across all Portuguese-speaking countries. This affected spelling of 1.65 percent of Portuguese words.

For most businesses looking to attract Brazil-based customers the first language for translating content should be Brazilian Portuguese. Many Brazilians may understand Spanish since it is a Romance language, but this is not the same as translating their content. Also, localizing your digital and printed collateral goes a long way in reaching a Brazilian audience.

Currency

Brazil’s official currency is known as the Brazilian Real. It ranks nineteenth in the world in traded value. If you are looking to fully localize your website’s global eCommerce experience, then you will need to convert currency to Brazilian Real. Currency will need to be converted properly. In Brazil, they use commas instead of periods as decimal points, and periods instead of commas. For example $1,500.34 (USD) would be written as $1.500,34 (BRL).

A majority of Brazilians use credit cards to shop online. It is important to note that a lot of Brazilian credit cards are restricted from cross-border transactions. (They are issued domestically and can only be used in Brazil.) Therefore, one should find a local partner in Brazil to assist with processing orders. Other payment methods can also be considered. One is Boleto [Bancário]. This is regulated by the Brazilian Federation of Banks (FEBRABAN). Customers order online and receive a pre-filled bank slip. This allows payments to be paid at ATMS, branches, banks, lottery agencies, post offices and supermarkets in Brazil.

Many online stores in Brazil also offer payment in installments as this is common payment practice. A business would work with an installment service in Brazil to set this up. The business would select preset installment intervals for the customer to choose from. These options would be available at checkout. Businesses should adjust their prices of goods and services accordingly if offering installments to cover any added costs.

Where are Consumers Spending their Money?

Before 2012, Brazil’s economy was one of the fastest growing in the world. Their middle class reached about 115 million people (over half of the population). However, the growth rate slowed and Brazil entered a recession in 2014. The start of 2017 has brought about economic recovery and an end to the recession.

According to McKinsey & Company’s profile “Meet the New Brazilian Consumer,” they discuss post-recession Brazil and the attitudes of their consumers. Brazilian consumers are now consistently looking for ways to spend less and save money. According to research from Santander, Brazilians still perceive foreign products and brands as a sign of wealth. They remain loyal to brands, but now shop these brands for the lowest price at different locations. Also, a lot of Brazilians are trading down but are still splurging on alcoholic beverages and personal care products. Evaluate your price points and present your products as a great value for the amount of money.

Overall, Brazil is a highly connected population, with over 140 million users. This is the largest internet market in Latin America and fourth largest in the world. Therefore, a website that embraces Brazilian language and culture (color choices, image choices, etc.) will appeal to Brazilian consumers. Brazilians use desktop computers to make about 68 percent of their purchases, according to eMarketer. Mobile only accounted for one third of all eCommerce traffic.

Business Culture

In Brazil, personal relationships are very important parts of business culture. They prefer face-to-face meetings over written communication. Meetings should be scheduled at least two weeks in advance. Establish a relationship first, and then business will take place. Often, at dinner meetings, conversation starts as informal before moving to business. Topics to avoid include politics or any controversial current events facing Brazil. When presenting business cards, have one of the sides translated to Brazilian Portuguese, and present your card with the Portuguese side facing up and toward the recipient.

If you’re looking to do more business in Brazil, the first step is to present your content in their language with respect to their values and needs. For more help in connecting with the Brazilian market, get in touch with LinguaLinx.

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