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The ABCs of the São Paulo Class Divide

February 2014

By Glaucia Holzmann, Sao Paulo

The gap continues to widen between Brazil’s Class A and Class C when it comes to not only shopping and drink, but environmental and health concerns too.

In the last three years, many businesses opened in response to a quickly growing bicycle market that helped tackle both the chaotic traffic and the fact that there were few safe places to ride. Bike shops, like TAG & Juice and Aro27, promote biking throughout the city by means of events and showering stations for bikers that include coffee and maintenance. The City Hall, and Itau Bank, created Bike Sampa (Sampa is São Paulo’s nickname), a bike share system that allows people to move easily around the city. Their rentals are free for 30 minutes and after they charge a small fee. Meanwhile, City Hall has invested in bicycle paths around town, as there is a growth on bikes from social classes C and B.

Bonafont Water, launched in 2008, has since become ubiquitous through a strong marketing campaign to bring the product close to consumers. They recently launched flavored waters (orange, lime and apple) with great success, a feat that was formerly not successful in the Brazilian market. Consumers from social classes A and B who are more concerned about health and fitness are truly hooked.  Besides the flavor, the appeal is that the drinks are low on calories and sodium-free. A pop up store was opened on Oscar Freire St, São Paulo’s answer to Fifth Avenue, with the slogan: “how much does a compliment cost?” Passersby sent messages complimenting a friend, and the friend could pick up a free bottle of water.Their slogan, “live water, live juice,” is a way to reach the public since juice is perceived as a healthy drink even when it’s not really natural.

It’s common to have heard the question, “why doesn’t H&M come to Brazil?” It would swiftly be answered by saying that our taxes are so high that H&M could not keep their low price points in such an expensive country. In 2014, answering many Brazilians’ prayers (it’s common for consumers here to travel to the US just to shop), H&M is finally coming to São Paulo.

Setting themselves apart from their competitors, like Gap, Zara and Topshop, who opened stores on very high end malls, H&M has chosen to open retail stores in commercial areas, like Paulista Avenue, to reach a more popular consumer.  The C social class that dislikes going to high-end malls is expecting this store excitedly. Part of the B social class, which is into fast fashion, is excited too.  Everyone believes they will be able to shop with the same low price points they enjoy abroad. Let’s wait and see.

Retail & Dining
Health & Fitness
Design & Luxury
Food & Drink
Fashion & Style
Sao Paulo
Bike party at Sao Paulo's Tag & Juice
Sampa Bikes, sponsored by Itau Bank
Bonafont Levisse flavored water beverage

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