December 14, 2010
Brazil’s middle class jumping into e-commerce
Voz da Comunidade (Community Voice), a newspaper produced by teens from Complexo do Alemão, gained attention in Brazil after a weeklong operation intended to drive drug gangs out of the Rio de Janeiro slum. Given the risk entailed in entering the area, their Twitter feed became one of the most reliable sources of news about the operation, jumping from less than 1,000 followers to more than 29,000 in a day.
Voz da Comunidade spotlights the rise in connectivity among Brazil’s lower classes, stimulated by rapid economic growth and lower costs for PCs and broadband. Between 2006 and 2009, 45 million people from the new middle class (also called C class) started using the Internet, the highest migration to a new medium since the launch of TV in the ’50s. C class now represents more than 4 in 10 of Brazil’s estimated 80 million Internet users, up from about 3 in 10 in 2006.
These new users—who aren’t fluent in “Internet language and usability,” don’t know English and don’t spend much money at once—are changing the way companies communicate online. Given that more than two-thirds of these consumers conduct online research before making a purchase, it’s important for brands to tailor their messaging. Bradesco Bank created videos to explain its new credit lines targeting these consumers. And a TAM airlines campaign and website section offers tips for first-time travelers, suggestions on how to pay less for airfare and describes benefits of traveling by plane rather than bus.
These initiatives are just the beginning of a revolution: Last year, 40 percent of e-commerce newbies were from C class, comprising 7 percent of e-commerce transactions. The Internet is no longer the domain of Brazil’s more privileged classes; access to the digital world, either via computer or mobile, keeps expanding, empowering a much broader range of consumers.