A perspective from…
Havaianas’ Afonso Sugiyama
The president of Alpargatas USA, the parent company of flip-flop brand Havaianas,
Afonso Sugiyama talks to Pip Brooking about the challenges of exporting Brazil’s best loved brand to a global audience
The Havaianas brand has something most brands could only dream of –
100% awareness in its home market.
However, that also places limitations on further growth. The brand has been growing organically outside Brazil, driven by affinity with its ‘Brazilian spirit’; now it is time for it to build on that, believes Afonso Sugiyama, president of Havaianas parent company
businesses. In Europe we need to find more occasions to wear, so it’s about developing brand extensions such as closed-toe shoes.
“We were concerned that
Brazilians would be offended”
The business is so large in Brazil that there’s an emotional connection with the brand. The fact it’s all about flip-flops is much stronger in Brazil.
Elsewhere the connection is more to do with the “fun” aspect of the brand.
How does the proposition change outside Brazil then?
Does your experience offer learnings for other LatAm brands?
Outside Brazil, Havaianas goes from market leader to a challenger brand. We need to be more daring and have more of a story to tell. It’s also less about the category and more about the brand. In the Northern Hemisphere the biggest challenge is the seasonality of flipflops. We have to make it more relevant in people’s minds, and to stockists’
Storytelling is very specific to the brand, but understanding who you’re telling it to and how to connect them is something that applies to anyone.
Latin America is generally very shy about taking business globally, but like it or not, the world is global. Building resonance internationally can reinforce your position in your home market. k
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