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A majority of Brazil’s middle class are internet users, but that usage is mainly limited to information, entertainment and communication. Many are not yet fully comfortable with ecommerce, according to a new eMarketer report, “Brazil’s Digital Middle Class: A Huge Market Embraces the Internet (but Not Without Caution).”
Numbering about 108 million consumers—54% of the population—according to a Serasa Experian survey with Data Popular, Brazil’s middle class makes up an enormous market with vast potential for online marketers and retailers, but for now much of that opportunity remains untapped for a variety of reasons. Real incomes have risen substantially in the country, but digital devices remain expensive for many in the middle class. And a good portion of Brazil’s new digital users are wary about making transactions online.
The percentage of middle-class consumers in Brazil who buy online is still very low. According to data released in June 2014 by the Centro de Estudos sobre as Tecnologias da Informação e da Comunicação (CETIC.br), C-level internet users made up 22% of digital buyers in 2013. These days, Brazil’s middle class is more likely to turn to the internet for research purposes; the research found that over half went online to check prices and perform other research tasks.
Overall, eMarketer estimates that only 20.8% of all internet users in Brazil will make at least one purchase via digital channels in 2014.
This shallow ecommerce penetration reflects a lingering concern among middle-class shoppers about exposing personal information and bank data online, said Thiago Flores, executive director of price comparison site Zoom. Perhaps as an extension of this, pure play online retailers may not be as attractive as familiar brick-and-mortar operations.
In a February 2014 ranking of the top retail web properties in Brazil by comScore, auction site MercadoLibre led, with nearly 24 million unique visitors, followed by B2W Digital, which is controlled by Brazilian retail giant Lojas Americanas.
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