As a second year in the Center for Brand and Product Management, I had the opportunity to go on the center’s global trip to Brazil over winter break. The trip was an excellent opportunity to get a global perspective on brand management. While we were there, we visited several consumer packaged goods companies who spoke with us about marketing in Brazil.
The trip officially started when we all arrived in Sao Paulo on January 4, 2015. Our first day was a cultural day to give us time to get over jetlag and to get our bearings. We had a guided tour of the city where we saw many of Sao Paulo’s famous sites such as the St. Paul Cathedral, Ibirapuera Park, and Batman Alley (a street famous for its artistic graffiti). That evening we all went to dinner together at Churrascaria which is a traditional Brazilian steakhouse. So much meat!
Our company visits started off with a trip to the US Consulate where we learned about starting business in Brazil as an American company. The Consulate also gave us a briefing on key facts about the country which was helpful to keep in mind as we visited with other companies. Our second visit was to 3M where we had the amazing opportunity to visit their Brazilian Innovation Center. We saw many of the projects they’ve already developed or are currently working on, such as a liquid that does not harm electronics and can be used in case of a fire. Our third visit was to General Mills who spoke with us about launching an American brand, Betty Crocker, in Brazil. Our final visit in Sao Paulo was to Kimberly Clark where we learned about Brazilian consumers and then toured a diaper manufacturing plant.
The next city on the docket for us was Rio de Janeiro. While in Sao Paulo, every one we spoke with at companies kept telling us that while Sao Paulo is great, we were really going to love Rio de Janeiro. How right they were! Rio de Janeiro is an amazing city with breathtaking views and gorgeous beaches. Our first full day in Rio was another cultural day that included visits to Christ the Redeemer and Sugarloaf Mountain. We also had time to walk over to Ipanema beach, which was just across the street from our hotel.
Our first company visit in Rio de Janeiro was the advertising agency Ogilvy and Mather. Ogilvy spoke to us about the media consumption habits of Brazilian consumers. We learned that network television is still very popular and household penetration for some programs is as high as 50%! Our second company visit offered a very different perspective as it was with JohnCenter which is a distributor. JohnCenter showed us around the distribution center and spoke to the complexities of distributing product throughout the country. Finally, our third visit was to SC Johnson where we did a case study focusing on targeting different segments of consumers throughout Brazil.
Before the official trip started I had the opportunity to head down early with a few friends from the program and visited the beach town of Buzios. Buzios was a beautiful town with remarkable beaches and delightful restaurants. We had the opportunity to bring in 2015 in Buzios and followed the Brazilian tradition of wearing white on New Year’s Eve. After the trip officially ended, I headed off to Iguazu Falls on the boarder of Brazil and Argentina with a different set of friends from the program. The park around the falls presented spectacular views and even offered the opportunity to take a boat trip under the falls.
The Brand Center’s global trip was an astounding success and is definitely an experience I will never forget! The trip delivered both professional learnings that I will take with me throughout my career in brand management, and also provided an opportunity to grow on a personal level. My only regret is that I’m graduating in May and will not have the option to go on next year’s journey!