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Doing Business in Brazil? 4 Things About the Culture You Really Need to Know

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If you’re new to doing business in Brazil, then this blog is for you.

Before venturing into any new country, it’s crucial to learn about the culture.

If you’ve got the attitude that ‘everyone does business the same’, then you might be in for a surprise – especially in Brazil.

People all over the world may do business in a similar fashion, but when it comes down to the nitty gritty, there are sometimes huge cultural differences.

These differences can lead to all sorts of problems – whether misunderstandings and delays or soured negotiations and financial losses.

To give you an intro to doing business with Brazilians, we’re going to focus on 4 features of Brazilian culture that really make an impact.

If you don’t understand these, you won’t understand Brazil. The result? Getting business done just got whole lot harder!


1: Love your family

Life in Brazil revolves around the family – not the individual.

Brazilians see themselves as part of a complex social network of relations and loved ones who often live, work and play together.

Most social activities revolve around families and many businesses, including larger ones, are family run and owned.

How does this impact doing business?

Well, if, for example, you’re running an advertising or marketing campaign in Brazil you need to focus on the benefits to the family. When people buy a car it’s with the knowledge it will be used by the family.

When they buy clothes, they know they will be handed down. Even before deciding which car or clothing to buy Brazilians will see if there is someone in the family who sells cars or clothing! This ensures they get a better deal and keeps the money in the family!

You get the point – family is everything.


2: Respect your elders

The respect for family perhaps explains the deference with which Brazilians treat the elderly.

With age comes wisdom, insight, maturity and experience. As a result, elderly people in families, communities and business are given status.

With this status comes a certain level of respect in how people treat those older than themselves.

This has a number of implications for foreigners doing business in Brazil.

For example, if you’re sending employees out to the country, you are highly unlikely to gain much respect if you send junior people. You should be sending older, more experienced heads if you want to be taken seriously.

This respect for age also applies to businesses – those who have been around longer, will naturally have more gravitas.


3: Live for today

There is a sense with Brazilian culture that life is to be lived – and as a result, they tend to live life with an edge of flamboyance.

As a result, short term wins and goals usually drive decisions. The promise of future riches is usually not enough to convince Brazilians and immediate or short-term sacrifice. They know that things change very quickly!

Within society there is almost an unspoken rule that everyone should be able to enjoy themselves without others poking into their business. Brazilians value their privacy and don’t like being judged for their habits or desires.

If you’re going business in Brazil, it’s therefore key to focus on short term wins and quick results as well as longer term objectives.


4: Take it easy

Things don’t revolve around the time in Brazil; they revolve around people.

Life is lived at a much slower pace here than in say the USA or Canada. People take their time doing things – deadlines don’t motivate action. People do.

Getting things done in Brazil is all about people and networks. This is why relationship building is key to any sort of success when doing business in Brazil.

People like to know who they are doing business with, about their families, what sports they like or how they like to have fun at the weekend.

Time is always taken to ask about people’s health, families, etc in small talk.

If you’re smart, you’ll build extra time into your calls, webinars, meetings, negotiations and project milestones. This way you manage expectations and avoid unwanted pressures.


Training on Brazilian Business Culture

Did you know that The Business Culture Complexity Index™ ranks Brazil as the 33rd most difficult country to do business with?

That's up there with the UAE and Taiwan!

Custom Webinars on Brazlian business culture

 

If, like our clients, you are looking for extra insights in the form of some customised training for you, your team or organisation, then that’s exactly what we do!

We can cover any aspect of doing business with Brazilians – from relationship building to management to sales.

Read more about our Brazil custom cultural training.


 

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