New course to focus on 40 million consumers

Unidade SP %281%29Brazil is a country rich in culture, renewable resources and industry. As students in a new Kellogg executive MBA course are about to discover, Brazil is also rich in consumers.

Global Marketplace: Consumer Growth in Brazil is a new emerging markets course that uses Brazil as a case study for emerging markets worldwide. Taught by Kellogg EMBA program founder, former director and adjunct faculty member Ken Bardach, the course pairs the topic of consumer growth with its application in the Brazilian marketplace. [READ MORE]

The course partners Kellogg with Fundação Dom Cabral (FDC), a business school rated #1 in Latin America by AmericaEconomia three years running. With the course taught on both the Evanston and Miami campus and an immersion trip in Brazil, students will benefit from Kellogg’s global perspective and the local expertise of the FDC faculty.

Ken Bardach and Carla Arruda-Vasseur, program director at FDC, gave an insider’s look at the upcoming course.

How did this partnership come about?

Vasseur: Since Ken is both an FDC and Kellogg faculty member, the partnership came naturally. We recognized the value of learning about Brazil through a Kellogg course that establishes context, and supplement content from our FDC faculty members who can draw on their market expertise.

Bardach: In the past 12 years, Brazil has been the most dynamic and robust economy in South America and the seventh-largest economy in the world. FDC is the preeminent Brazilian business school, with first-rate faculty and educational facilities. It’s been ranked no. 1 in Latin America and holds high rankings on many other international lists. Students have a wonderful opportunity to experience an important marketplace and do under the aegis of two world-class schools.

What will be covered in the course?

Bardach: The course takes a hybrid approach. First, you’ll take classes with me at Kellogg. This portion will lay a foundation in the history, economy, socioeconomic mechanisms, businesses and political background of Brazil. The students must work in small teams to determine whether or not a company should invest in Brazil. This part of the course provides the background information they need to make their hypothesis.

In Brazil, they’ll enjoy an immersive experience that allows them to gather the research they need to complete their assignment. They will take classes that focus on the consumer growth in Brazil, particularly regarding Class C, take a city tour of Sao Paolo, learn about consumer behavior and market growth and join roundtable discussions and visits with Brazilian businesses like the cosmetics giant Natura Cosmeticos, which twice has been selected by Brazilians as their most admired company. During the week, they will have some free time to set up interviews with local businesses and continue their project work.

What makes this course unique?

Bardach: In this course, students will learn about topics in Evanston and cultivate a deeper understanding when they experience Brazil in person. It’s going to give them a rich knowledge about this marketplace’s drivers.  They will learn that Brazil represents extraordinary opportunities but also serious challenges. They’ll be able not only to do business in Brazil, but also they will learn skills that can be applied to other emerging economies and even more generally to doing business internationally.

What is Class C, and why will the course focus on this consumer group?

Bardach: Class C refers to Brazil’s lower middle class. It’s a group of approximately 40 million people who were in abject poverty just a few years ago, and due to significant government investment, suddenly have buying power.

Vasseur: Class C’s now have jobs and cars, and for the first time, they can purchase items like TVs, cars, appliances and even status items. They can finance. It represents a huge opportunity but also many challenges from both a business and political standpoint.

Why is Brazil in particular a good choice for a case study?

Bardach: Brazil is a land of incredible opportunity and natural resources but also faces a number of problems. As I mentioned, Class C now makes it possible for increased consumption and will help the internal business market. Brazil also has a great job market. However, Brazil has experienced significant inflationary pressure in the past. In 1993, for instance, the inflation rate exceeded 2,000%. On the other hand, Brazil has incredible natural resources. Business is hindered, though, by outdated infrastructure and political corruption.

What can students take from this class and apply to other economies?

Vasseur: Ultimately, if the students don’t do business in Brazil, they’ll do business with Brazil. It’s also a good comparison to other developing countries. It’s going to open their eyes to different perspectives and different ways of doing business.

Bardach: Brazil is emblematic of other emerging economies. They’ll learn about the drivers that can lead to success or failure. Companies are looking for executives who have operated successful and ethically in Brazil.

In other words, if they can do business in Brazil, they can do business anywhere.

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