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Brazil—Melting Pot of Creation and Innovation

By: Marguerite La Corte
Posted: June 3, 2010, from the June 2010 issue of GCI Magazine.

Brazil is a vast country with seemingly endless space and resources. From north to south, east to west, it is filled with dramatic contrasts. From its beaches to the rain forest and fast-growing urban areas, Brazil is an inspiring country. People tend to find joy in the simple things—like good food and drink, friends and music. In the country’s cities, people work hard but also play hard. As a global trend tracker, I’ve never seen such low levels of stress in any major cities around the globe as I do in Brazil’s. Within the beauty arena, many new brands and companies are cropping up. There is a newfound entrepreneurial spirit, one that resembles the passion and uniqueness once existing in the U.S. during the 1980s and early 1990s. Today, the Brazilian economy is strong, particularly compared to neighboring South American countries—and this prosperity lends itself to creativity, and creativity leads to innovation. (See Consequences of the Lack of Creativity.)

Annual South American trend treks have allowed me to previously explore Brazil and note the changes. I have found free-standing stores carrying unique brands within beauty, fashion and food industries more noticeably appearing in the past year. Creative individuals with unique ideas are launching new products either in their own stores or at other points of distribution. Notably, the Cadiveu brand is preparing to open its first store in São Paulo, and now has a range of hair care and body care products under the same name that uses only the finest local sourced ingredients. O Boticário, which is not a newcomer at all, was created in 1977 as a small drugstore in the city of Curitiba in southern Brazil, filling prescriptions and inventing unique special fragrances—long before Brazil was considered an emerging market. Today, it is one of the world largest perfumery franchises, with more than 2,000 stores in Brazil.

Many multinationals, of course, have penetrated Brazil in the past decade, providing high-quality products at a reasonable price. And they too have been forced to be more innovative in their approach to new product development— fueled by the rich melting pot of cultures and ideas in Brazil.

No matter where you go in Brazil, there is some form of nature impacting your day. Even in the busiest of cities, there are palm trees and flowers galore among the cement. And people who have never been to Brazil at least know of the rain forest. The world’s largest area of continuous forest has always been a source of exotic mystery, even to Brazilians who live in other regions of the country. It is fertile breeding ground where medicinal plants, exotic flowers and nutritious fruits thrive.

It has only been in the last century that the Brazilian rain forest has been recognized as having so many natural curatives, but it is not just the rain forest that provides these wonderful plants—Brazil is rich with beneficial vegetation grown throughout the country. A few examples of the country’s produce have been given super-fruit accolades, such as açai, but these have not all been simple to translate, figuratively and literally, for global consumers. Just as it must perform, an ingredient needs to be somewhat easily pronounced and grasped across cultures to catch on globally, even for an “on trend” fruit. Therein lies some of the complexity on why certain fruits and other natural ingredients haven’t made their way onto the labels of U.S. beauty brands. And without the backing of clinical testing, many multinationals have been waiting it out and, subsequently, missed the boat to react in a timely manner.