In supply chain, we are continually talking about how the BRIC: Brazil, Russia, India, and China, are going to revolutionize our supply chain by substantially decreasing our costs and, thus, increasing the overall value the supply chain organization brings to the business. For the most part, it hasn’t happened yet (as management costs, tariffs, delays, and expedited shipping costs usually serve to eat up most of the projected savings), although many companies, who took their time and did it right, did see enough savings and enough improvements to make it worthwhile. The real opportunities are going to come when the middle class in these countries reaches a point where the market is just as lucrative, if not more lucrative, then our home markets. Just like Japan, with its focus on electronics, achieved a rapid transformation over the last few decades to become the second largest consumer economy in the world until it was overtaken by China this month, the BRIC is on track to create a new middle class larger than the current global middle class in the next 15 – 25 years.
And while much has been written about the China and India Opportunity (as the 2.5 Billion people the countries contain are expected to contribute another 500 Million to 750 Million people to the global middle class), I haven’t seen much written about Brazil, which is still very respectable in size with it’s 8.5 Million square kilometers and 192 Million people. Plus, it’s current middle class, which is approximately 25% of the population, already earn between $1,000 and $3,250 US, which is on par with what the average middle class income in India (which is as low as $3,000 to $5,000 US by some estimates) and most of China.
Brazil, like any other country, poses a distinct market. As per The Brazilian Consumer: Opportunities and Challenges, Brazilians favour quality over low price, status over indifference, and interaction vs. seclusion in their way of life. The companies that have successfully reached the emerging middle class to date have focussed on quality, distinction, small stores (in lieu of hyper-centers), and exclusive distribution networks — all of which will have an impact on your Brazilian supply chains. But will the emerging Brazilian consumer have any impact on your supply chains for those of you sourcing from, but not selling to, Brazil? Probably not. But if anyone has any differing opinions, I’d love to hear them!