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A Double-Edged Sword: Why Brazilians Prefer Imported Products

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First Published: 13th of June, 2022

Last updated: June 13, 2022 at 15:59 pm

Most Brazilians have an obsession for imported products, especially imported cosmetics including perfumes and colognes. Ironically, Brazil produces some of the world’s finest perfumes and perfumed products. Some of the world famous Brazilian brands include Boticario, Natura, and Hinode. But despite the fact that Brazil is known for its high quality products, the general notion in Brazil is that imported products are superior. And even though they may be more costly, Brazilians will pay its weight in gold for imported products.

Imported products, including clothing, cosmetics, and even electronic items, are generally associated with the rich in Brazil. So rich people use more imported products than poor people who can only afford cheap locally produced products. Imported luxury products such as cosmetics will sell on average three times faster than their locally manufactured rivals in Brazil even though it might be more expensive. But why is this so? What is the reason for it? The answer lies in the double-edged sword of dictatorship.

Brazil suffered under a US installed military dictatorship from 1964 to 1985. The dictatorship, similar to that of Linden Forbes Sampson Burnham in neighboring Guyana, closed off Brazil’s border to imports in an effort to force Brazilians to produce and drive the Brazilian economy. Imports were not banned outright, but the taxes imposed on imports made it extremely difficult. This “produce or perish” mentality is actually unhealthy for an economy, and only looks good to the shortsighted.

So Brazil produced and its industries evolved. But at the same time, Brazilian technology was not as advanced as some first world countries such as the United States, England, Canada, and the Netherlands. Consequently, many Brazilian products struggled through years of evolutionary processes. But they evolved, and they evolved really well.

Even before the military dictatorship, Brazil had implemented a strong pro-national policy that saw the restriction of many items. Those items that were allowed to be imported were taxed so high that it was virtually impossible to import them. Imported products then were only within the realms of the wealthy who could pay the taxes for a superior product. Brazil is so serious about protecting its borders and stimulating the economy through production that smuggling consumer items into Brazil is punishable by imprisonment.

Combined with the fact that importers would seek out the best of the best products from the first world countries, the difficulty in importing into Brazil gave imported products a notion of luxury, power, elegance, and superiority. And despite the fact that Brazil now produces some of the world’s best products, the cravings and glamorous perception of imported products continue to burn in the heart of every Brazilian.

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