Monday, July 2, 2012
While many nations around the world struggle to find their feet in the wake of the global economic crisis, Brazil has bucked the trend and is fast becoming one of the most desirable nations to do business. This article looks at how a firm can ensure that neither cultural nor language differences stand in the way of the business opportunities that Brazil has to offer.
So why are so many Western and emerging market firms eager to move into the Brazilian market? The country is one of the few to have generated economic growth over the past few years and many of its industries are predicted to grow in value for the foreseeable future.
In recent years, the Brazilian government has introduced a series of measures that have helped stimulate growth. As well as investing heavily in the development of its infrastructure, the Brazilian government has also opened up the country to the outside world – encouraging foreign firms to invest in the region. Since 1994, the amount of foreign investment coming into Brazil has increased steadily. The country’s policies do not limit foreign investment and allows foreign firms to fully remit their profits abroad.
The Telecom Market
Brazil’s telecommunication or telecom industry is just one of the many that has grown exponentially in recent years – largely due to the fact that its population is growing wealthier. Emerging markets such as Brazil offer an existing opportunity for US and European firms. According to a research from Datamonitor, by 2015 the Brazilian mobile phone market will be worth $9.4 billion up a huge 64 percent from its value in 2010. Brazil’s fixed line market is also growing in value and Brazil is also one of the leading internet users in the world, with its rapidly expanding telecom market contributing to this growth.
In light of these statistics and the warm welcome that foreign investors are receiving, it’s hardly surprising that businesses are flocking to take a slice of the Brazilian telecom market for themselves. However, the language and cultural differences can form a barrier for Western firms who fail to work with Portuguese translation and Brazilian localization experts when entering and marketing into this emerging nation.
For example, culturally there are huge differences between business communication in the US and Brazil. Fundamental cultural differences between the two nations can often result in misunderstandings that, in turn, can lead to business failure. A study into these differences, carried out by Hofstede in 1997, found that Brazilians often accept hierarchical structures more easily than North Americans. This translates to the workplace as well, and therefore business communication in Brazil can often be very different depending on the ‘level’ of the employee being communicated with. In US businesses, on the other hand, it’s much more likely that the same language will be used regardless of whether a senior manager or an administrator is being addressed. This approach will often be perceived by Brazilian business people as disrespectful to authority.
Another difference that businesses from the US may encounter in Brazil is the fact that business people may be less averse to unclear or ambiguous messages. In the US, people have very little tolerance for anything unclear or confusing, while the same cannot be said for Brazilians.
Although working with Brazilian translation experts is essential for any firm hoping to enter and market into the Brazil, these cultural differences also illustrate the importance of localization when producing written and spoken material for business in Brazil.