Brazil’s wavering on a contract estimated at more than $4 billion to French airplane manufacturer Dassault has not discouraged the French.
The product and consumer, however, could not be more different from the fighter jets that were destined for the Brazilian Air Force.
Less than seven months ago the Comité Colbert, a French umbrella organization consisting of 70 luxury brands, said that red tape, taxes, and Brazilian shoppers’ proclivity to buy luxury items abroad meant that the organization would aim their sites on the Middle East, which in spite of having a smaller population, offered a lower barrier to entry.
However, today, the group has changed this point of view. Efe reports:
French luxury organizations in the Comité Colbert will launch a publicity campaign in Brazil. Although the country only currently accounts for 2-3 percent of sales, the rate of increase over the past few years has been between 20 and 30 percent.
There is a new middle class in Brazil that has the ability to buy luxury goods in spite of extremely high import taxes. They [Brazilians] have a thirst for consumption, and not just in Sao Paulo, but also in Brasilia, according to Elisabeth Ponsolle de Portes, the Comité Colbert’s general delegate.
Referring to an appeal of French goods to foreign consumers (particularly the Chinese, who make up a large portion of Comité member sales), de Portes says:
“Everything French is romantic. Everyone dreams of having a cup of champagne in front of the Eiffel tower.”
It is an interesting change for Brazil. Some foreign commentators have referred to Brazil as a country that ‘seduces the world’, having successfully leveraged certain cultural exports, some argue, to the country’s greater economic benefit. Brazilians, toting designer bags with more money inside, may soon find themselves on the other side of the equation.