Trade, business similarities and marketing & communications between the UK and Brazil

18 November 2020


As the United Kingdom approaches 2021, a new chapter will begin with the country hoping to have already signed a trade deal with the European Union and closing agreements with other countries, similar to the first major trade deal as an independent trading nation recently signed with Japan.

The UK and Brazil have long historical ties in trade and investment with Brazil having a familiar, European-style business culture, making business practices and communication easier between the two countries. Annual trade in goods and services between the UK and Brazil has averaged about £5.5 billion in recent years and was growing at an average rate of around 5% per year until 2020,[1] and there is no reason why a trade deal cannot be struck and agreed between the two countries going forward.

It has been widely reported that the Brazilian government was seeking to strike a Mercosur–UK trade deal and broad agreement post Brexit that could be similar to the trade agreement signed between the South American bloc and the European Union.

At present, exports[2] and opportunities[3] between the UK and Brazil are quite varied on both sides and the potential for new business could really take off when any such trade agreement is confirmed.

TOP UK EXPORTS TO BRAZIL                                                      TOP BRAZILIAN EXPORTS TO THE UK

Machinery                                                                              Meat

Pharmaceuticals                                                                   Gold

Vehicles                                                                                  Soybeans

Blood, antisera, vaccines, cultures                                     Iron ore

Pesticides                                                                               Coffee

Refined petroleum                                                               Hydrogen


UK-TO-BRAZIL OPPORTUNITIES                                                   BRAZIL-TO-UK OPPORTUNITIES  

Food and drink                                                                      Meat

Healthcare and medical devices                                        Cereals

Business services                                                                  Minerals

Education                                                                               Pharmaceuticals

Technology – smart cities                                                    Organic chemicals

Oil and gas                                                                             Coffee, tea, spices      

Transportation                                                                      Textiles

Travel services                                                                       Machinery      



Any company wishing to spread its wings and go into business either way between the two countries should first consider some of the similarities between the two countries’ business cultures.

- Brazil has a familiar, European-style business culture, making business practices and communication easier with the UK.

- Both countries have a service-based economy, but Brazil’s is mainly hospitality whereas the UK’s is mainly financial.

- Personal relationships matter, especially in Brazil where business and negotiations are between people rather than companies.

- Having fun while working – both countries love to have fun, which works well at certain times when doing business.

- Being patient – taking business decisions and giving answers can take time in Brazil, so expect to wait a while.

- Businesspeople in both countries like to be in control in business matters, so being assertive will help improve relationships and interactions.

- Appearance is important – dress smartly and conservatively.

- Keep talking and negotiating over lunch, dinner or drinks.

- Schedule meetings a couple of weeks in advance, and confirm beforehand.

- New products and ideas – consumers in both countries really love, and are open to, new products, services, ideas. Online shopping is booming.

- Both countries have a thriving number of SMEs, freelancers and consultants – which is well worth bearing in mind when aiming to enter the Brazilian market.



In the world of marketing and communications, good, solid, consistent and engaging communications and content are the key to success. In emerging markets, such as Brazil, it goes without saying that companies have to focus on the local target market and customers’ needs if they hope to gain a competitive advantage by predicting new trends, offering new products and services or creating innovative marketing campaigns. The development of a strong communications and marketing strategy and content is therefore fundamental in order to remain visible and aligned with customers’ expectations and new markets.

In order to deliver the right product with the most effective message, the target market and its cultural aspects need to be thoroughly examined for any brand to be successful and for general wider market penetration and sales.

Even though global integration can be easily managed in some markets, the unique characteristics of emerging markets, such as Brazil, mean that special care is needed when entering them. The rise of the middle class in all countries is generating a considerable number of first-time buyers for a wide range of products and services. Many of these consumers purchase products and services based on their own direct needs and wants, rather than the brand itself. Such characteristics directly affect a wide range of fundamental beliefs regarding marketing strategies, including market orientation, target segmentation and brand equity.

At the same time, these markets offer interesting opportunities to create and develop new practices and perspectives in marketing strategies. Brazil has so many particular characteristics that even domestic companies aiming to expand their distribution into more regions need to consider and tailor their relevant marketing and communications strategies accordingly.

It is therefore not surprising that Brazil has some of the best marketing minds and businesses in the world, so make sure you fully research the market and look at all options in relation to sales, marketing and communications support, whether from a specialised company or consultant in the UK, or from a local marketing and communications agency in Brazil.

Fundamentally, what is key is to have the right product at the right time with the right communications and marketing message. Maybe that time is approaching and 2021 can be the platform for a stronger, deeper and fully aligned relationship and trade agreement between the UK and Brazil.


Article published in the November 2020 edition of the Chamber's Brazil Business Brief


MICHAEL ELLIS is a sales and marketing consultant with 25 years of international business experience in several countries and across a wide range of business sectors and industries. He is also a mentor and English coach.




Photograph by Geraldo Cantarino