Marketing to Latin America? Think Brazil

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NEW YORK -- Thinking about marketing in Latin America?

Try Brazil, the 12th-largest economy in the world, the largest in Latin America and the world's fifth-most populous country with 182 million people.

That was the message from Daniel Rutenberg, director of marketing for the International Airline Passengers Association in Plano, TX, who spoke yesterday at the Direct Marketing Association's International Day 2006 at The Harvard Club.

Mr. Rutenberg handles the association's marketing in the Americas and has had success with DM programs in Brazil.

"The Brazilian economy is growing," he said. "The population is projected to grow to 260 million people by 2050, which is similar to the size of the U.S."

But remember, Brazilians speak Portuguese, not Spanish.

Though this can be a problem for people who want to market to several Spanish-speaking countries at once -- and want to print just one direct mail package for all of them -- Mr. Rutenberg said it is important to understand that adult literacy in the country is high, reaching 86 percent, so a separate campaign for Brazil may be worthwhile.

One problem is the country's strict data protection laws.

"In Brazil, consumers have the right to ask for the source of their name on any given list or database, allowing them to control the use of their name to a certain extent," Mr. Rutenberg said.

However, the number of Brazilian credit cardholders soared to 53.5 million in 2004 from 29.4 million in 2000, he said. And the country's local postal system is one of the most sophisticated in Latin America.

Mr. Rutenberg also discussed case studies that his association has done in the past. Findings include:

* Consider offering either bilingual or 100 percent Portuguese packages.

* Look for new lists, such as those from the Portuguese chamber of commerce, department stores or local lists with a proven DR record.

* Brazilian people are nationalistic, but there are no problems selling them U.S. products.

* They love to belong to clubs, the more exclusive the better.

* They are family oriented.

* Deadlines and a sense of urgency are relative and, in most cases, secondary.

The Internet is on the rise in Brazil, Latin America's most advanced Internet market, Mr. Rutenberg said. The biggest Internet users in Brazil are teenagers.

"Teenagers spend about 14 hours online per month -- more than they use to read the news or go to the movies," he said.

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