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2015 has been a challenging year for Brazil so far. Inflation is increasing faster than predicted, and it’s not clear when the economic downturn will pass.

Maybe this is all a reflection of the current political crisis in the country as many expert analysts point to, but whatever the cause, one thing is a certainty: brands will need to work hard to make consumers pay a premium for them.

And what is the key thing to take into account to maintain a strong brand in a scenario like this? Before answering this question, let’s take one step back and get some context for the consumer response to this, which is to understand how a purchase decision is made. Neuroscience has taught us that both the intuitive and reflexive parts of our brain play a role in decision making, but that we pay more attention to the intuitive/automatic portion of our brain. The reason for this is very clear, it is because it takes more energy to access the reflexive portion of our brain.

However, it’s fairly obvious that in difficult economic periods, people will think more about the things they need to buy, be it by questioning the importance of making that particular purchase or wondering if they need to spend less money on certain categories that they are used to buying.

But this doesn’t mean that in this scenario brands will need to work harder on their ‘rational’ justifications of why they are a good purchase, because as explained before, people will continue to initially react instinctively to a brand before reflecting on the reasons to buy it. The one thing that gains importance in this period is making the bridge between the intuitive associations a certain brand may have and the rational arguments of why to buy it.


The Brazilian beer brand Skol is a great example to help understand this (once again, it’s top of this country’s brand ranking with a positive variation of 20% in its brand value). If you ask any Brazilian what they think of Skol, they will probably instantaneously mention things like ‘fun’, ‘playful’, ‘happiness’, ‘friends’. These associations have been built over the years that the brand has been communicating under the ‘Desce redondo’ big idea (something that can be translated as ‘easy to drink’). Making the connection between these emotional/positioning aspects with the product functional benefit of being a light beer to drink really cold is quite natural. It is in just this kind of situation, when people are having fun, that they want to drink a beer with these characteristics – therefore, the rational arguments to buy the brand come even more easily to mind because of the intuitive, automatic footprint that it has built, mainly through its communication efforts.

It is these clear connections between the brand proposition and the positive functional benefits that will help brands maintain a strong relationship with consumers as they seek more justification for their purchasing decisions. And this may mean an even more important role for the brand communication efforts, as it is the best way you can reinforce or build these associations.