“There are very poor people [in Pará],” Daniel Sabará, chief executive, health and personal care division, Beraca Ingredients, said before a trip into the Amazon forest. “But no one goes hungry.” The land provides, and the people accept. Therefore, it’s more than a collective interest—it’s part of life. For a visitor, one of the best expressions is found in Belém’s Ver-o-Peso market, where there seems to be no distinction between food, medicine and beauty products. It’s not either to be eaten or to be applied; it is what it is and does what it does.
Beraca, as a supplier of natural raw ingredients, began a program to empower communities while maintaining biodiversity in raw materials that had equitable benefit sharing (starting at the community level) and to promote regional development and the conservation of the Amazon forest. The company works with the Association of Farmers and Rural Family Farms of the Town of Tomé-Açu to source cupuassu.
With retail space in São Paulo running approximately $3,500 per square meter monthly, the relative high cost of some products and the proven success of the direct sell model in Brazil, beauty retailers must be diligent in their positioning. São Paulo is a city in which what appears to be a simple and relatively small drugstore is anything but.
Drogaria Iguatemi opened its first door in 1966 and didn’t open another door until the early 1990s—10 years after Jose Leonardo Jorge bought the store. At the time of the purchase, Jorge found that the Brazilian market needed something more sophisticated and with more differentiating factors and specialty products. There was a marked gap between Brazilian products and foreign products, but both the Brazilian industry and its consumers began searching for higher quality offerings. Drogaria Iguatemi focused on high-end and luxury products, thereby staffing its relatively small, mall-based shop with pharmacists, dermocosmetic consultants and makeup artists.
With sales up 24% in 2008 on the back of a good economy, loyal consumers and non brick-and-mortar expansions, the time was right for Jorge and his family run business to publish Drogaria Iguatemi’s own glossy magazine/catalog and expand by adding Internet retailing. In addition, the drugstore aims to expand by two doors by 2009.
In all, the retailer offers 22,000 SKUs, 60–70% of which are imported. Though the ratio of Brazilian to foreign brands is the same as it was in the 1990s, Brazilian products are now offering more comparable matches to foreign brands, according to Leonardo Diniz Jorge, director, Drogaria Iguatemi. Despite the increase in quality, consumers still tend to choose foreign labels first.
“Everything French are top sellers, though physician brands and skin care are also very popular,” said Diniz Jorge. “Body lotions and anticellulite products are big sellers—huge.” According to ABIHPEC, Brazilian consumers are more focused on body care than facial care.
The director also notes the changes in consumer spending, stating the biggest change in the market is that Brazilian men are beginning to buy—notably hair and skin care products. “Men are starting to try new products and talk about products,” he said. “Advertising is starting to change the scene, so men are starting to talk.” Advertising has also had an impact on Brazil’s growing sun care market, and Diniz Jorge attributes a Nivea campaign to a marked increase in sun care sales. Interestingly, though the fragrance category is second in value only to hair care in Brazil (valued at R$2.7 billion in 2007 by ABIHPEC), fragrances have been a difficult sell in Drogaria Iguatemi—like sun care products, with tax issues taking a toll.
“My customers buy abroad,” said Diniz Jorge. “So, they can purchase fragrances without the Brazilian taxes. To sell fragrances, we only work with creators of traditional cologne or exclusive brands, which will bring people into the stores.”
Beraca talks about its relationship with communities it sources from.
“[Beraca’s] anthropologist goes to a community and he checks that there is a real , traditional knowledge there, and then we start the negotiation with the community,” says João Matos, Beraca’s biodiversity manager. “It’s how to pay for the knowledge. Case by case, you have to work with the community and how they want to benefit. Sometimes, it’s technology transference, organic certification, setting up work spaces…”
“We found it would be most effective to work with these communities. We call ourselves linkers between the traditional knowledge and the international industry, and we have to work within partnerships,” says Daniel Sabará, Beraca’s chief executive, health and personal care division. “When you [demonstrate to communities] a new way to increase their income, sometimes you have to gain their trust first. They don’t always want to stop what they were doing, but learning to work sustainability is something good you can do and transfer to future generations. And it’s understanding how they see our relationship. To them, it’s we buy this product from them every season. If we buy one ton one year, next year they are going to be there with two tons. That’s sustainability for them. They trust you to be back. [João and I] argue about that . I say ‘we need one ton,’ and he comes with three tons. ‘But that’s what they came with and I couldn’t say no… because the next year, we need them again, and if we say no, we can’t just start the relationship over again.’”
By: Jeff Falk
Posted: December 3, 2008, from the December 2008 issue of GCI Magazine.
The Amazon region is driven by mass—not premium—products from small companies serving their local communities. However, they own less than 25% of the total market share against the 17 largest beauty companies in Brazil.
Open air markets make little distinction between products used for beauty, medicine or food.
Brazil is one of the largest markets in value terms for the deodorant segment, which includes body sprays. Liquid deodorant delivered via squeezable tubes accounts for 70% of mass sales.
Argentina is the largest importer of Brazilian beauty products, which are natively sourced and feature natural components.
Three hours spent in Santa Luzia de Tomé-Açu, a community of approximately 22 families in Brazil’s northern state of Pará, and it’s painfully clear how difficult it’s going to be to deliver a neat little package labeled “the Brazilian market.” Brazil, as exemplified in this small community and painted clearly on the faces of its citizens, is a nation of immense diversity. However, there does seem to be a unifying factor. If one pays attention to the underlying currents of life in Brazil, those on which this story will rely—a discernible connection to the soil and its yields can be found. The connection is as clear as it is unspoken, and evidenced in Belém’s Ver-o-Peso (“see the weight”) open air market, while visiting farms in the Amazon forest, in the comments of young São Paulo urbanites, and in the production practices of beauty marketers and suppliers. It’s also clear in simple statements that express both the ups and downs of the country. “There are very poor people [in Pará],” Daniel Sabará, chief executive, health and personal care division, Beraca Ingredients, said before a trip into the Amazon forest. “But no one goes hungry.” The land provides, and the people accept.
Therefore, it’s more than a collective interest—it’s part of life. For a visitor, one of the best expressions is found in the Ver-o-Peso market, where there seems to be no distinction between food, medicine and beauty products. It’s not either to be eaten or to be applied; it is what it is and does what it does. There’s also a clear recognition of the country’s treasures, even as some are being lost.
All this probably shouldn’t be that surprising once one fully grasps the enormity of both the country and its most famous and evident natural resource—the Amazon region—an area so vast it could hold all of Europe. And this giant’s beauty industry is leveraging its resources and coming to life.
Thanks to the Image Project, hosted by ABIHPEC (Brazilian Association of the Cosmetic, Toiletry & Fragrance Industry) in partnership with APEX-Brasil, GCI magazine had a first-hand look at the Brazilian beauty industry and market and the environmental and social projects undertaken by suppliers and marketers.