“Jeitinho brasileiro” or the “Brazilian way of doing things”
A foreigner may easily describe the Brazilian business culture as “diverse” or simply different. This is owed primarily to the fact that family relations in Brazil tend to be stronger than in other European or North American countries (Blue Umbrella, 2016) and secondly to the fact that foreigners fail to understand how the public and private dimensions seem to come together in the mind of Brazilian business partners.
As such, many foreign entrepreneurs are unable to enter the Brazilian market simply because they fail to “become friends with Brazilian entrepreneurs in order to do business with them”, as Julianna Mello (The Brazil Business, 2012) puts it. It then comes as no surprise that, in order to successfully run business in Brazil, a foreign investor should probably make a good network with locals, since personal contact on a regular basis (even by telephone) is by far more important than letters and e-mails, which may or may not be replied to (AboutBrasil, 2016).
Nubank – what, why?
Founded in 2014, Nubank is the first digital credit company in Brazil but in less than two years, it managed to become one of the leading fintech companies in Brazil (Meola A, 2016). Nubank has no branches. Customers apply for the card, activate it and then start using it to pay bills or increase the credit card limit. Nubank can offer its customers credit card monthly rates that are three times smaller than the rates offered by Brazil’s leading banks (Levin, J., Godoy, D., Sciaudone C., 2015). This is possible due to the fact that the central bank does not track Nubank’s rates, since Nubank is not a banking institution per se, but has a different license, being only a Smartphone application. And since Brazilians typically pay a mind-blowing 414% interest on their credit cards, Nubank’s cheaper solution is quickly being embraced by more and more users (Garber J, 2015). David Velez, founder of this Internet startup, blames the high interest rates on a credit card on the lack of competition in Brazil’s “broken” banking market.
Nubank – beginnings
Just as is the case with most startups, Nubank’s beginning from 2014 was hard too. What would later turn into a success story began in co-founder Cristina Junqueria’s apartment. Less than a year later, in September 2015, 150,000 accounts were opened, and nowadays, there are 3 million Brazilian Nubank card users (Meola, A., 2016), which is three times bigger than the target founder Velez had set for 2016. According to Bloomberg (Levin, J., Godoy, D., Sciaudone C., 2015), “the average user is 28 years old”.
Nubank – marketing strategy
Like all startups, in the beginning, this internet company too lacked the necessary financial support to invest in marketing. At any rate, its financial capabilities of promoting itself in traditional media were nowhere near those of its main competitors (i.e. Banco Itaú in Brazil). Acutely aware of their disadvantage in financial terms, Nubank hence invested in a more modern strategy. The solution it found, explains co-founder Cristina Junqueira for an interview with EXAME.com, was based primarily on the relationship with the press, word of mouth and social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube. This strategy of focusing on social media would later catch Silicon Valley’s attention, and in May 2016, Nubank became the first Latin American company to win Silicon Valley’s Marketers That Matter Award.
But mere good marketing is not enough. For a startup to truly become successful, it has to deliver its customers the promises it sells – not only rise up to its clients’ expectations, but also surpass them. And Nubank has done just that. Following from this, the customers’ satisfaction helped create what Cristina calls a “viral growth” through word of mouth advertising.
The startup has currently an 88% satisfaction rate, since it offers some rather unique and unusual services. For instance, a client whose card had been bitten by his dog was issued a new card accompanied by a purple little bone for his dog. This is all according to the “Jeitinho brasileiro” or the “Brazilian way of doing things, which states that an individual can use emotional resources so as to get an advantage. The Marketers That Matter Award is the second sign of recognition that Nubank received last month, since earlier in May, it was voted as Melhor Empresa de B2C na América Latina by Latam Founders Network (Desidério Mariana, 2016).
Author: Iulia Alina Dumitru
1. Desidério Mariana, 2016. “Inovador, Nubank ganha prêmio no Vale do Silício”. Exame.com.
2. Blue Umbrella, 2016. http://bluedd.com/articles/should-nepotism-be-legalized.html
3. Juliana Mello, 2012, “The Brazilian way of doing things” inThe Brazil Business.
4. AboutBrasil, 2016. http://www.aboutbrasil.com/modules/brazilbrasil/business_brasil_business_brazil.php?hoofd=2&sub=5&art=45
5. Meola Andrew, 2016. “This Brazilian fintech company just made history”, Business Insider, http://www.businessinsider.com/this-brazilian-fintech-company-just-made-history-2016-5?r=US&IR=T&IR=T
6. Levin, J., Godoy, D., Sciaudone C., 2015. “As Brazil Cards charge 500%, Nubank seems like a deal”. Bloomberg. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-09-01/with-brazil-creditcards-charging-500-nubank-seems-like-a-deal
7. Garber, J. , 2015. Business Insider, “Brazilians have to pay 414% interest on their credit