Coca-Cola in Favelas

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An early advertisement for Coca-Cola.
(Photo Credit: Dougal McGuire via Creative Commons

Coca-Cola is clearly a huge powerhouse and its products can be found worldwide. Yet how do they manage to hold onto such a huge share of the market? While many people may tell you that they just have perfected their products and have great advertising campaigns, it is a little more complex than that. Coca-Cola has a very aggressive marketing campaign that is constantly looking for new populations and markets to conquer. More specifically, poor areas are targeted, in the United States and abroad. Recently, Coke pushed to increase the consumption of Coke among the many Brazilians living in favelas, which are shantytowns in the outskirts of urban cities.

As Michael Moss stated in his New York Times article, The Extraordinary Science of Addictive Junk Food, in the United States, “Coke extended its aggressive marketing to especially poor or vulnerable areas…like New Orleans – where people were drinking twice as much Coke as the national average – or Rome, Ga., where the per capita intake was nearly three Cokes a day”. This strategy of aggressive marketing has now reached Brazil, where poor populations make up a huge portion of the population and represent an untapped market. Coca-Cola started selling Coke in more affordable, smaller bottles in favelas, employees of Coca-Cola moved into the slums, they stimulated businesses to sell their products, etc.

Retro advertising for Coca Cola. (Photo Credit: Fr. Dougal McGuire via Creative Commons License)

A Favela in Brazil.
(Photo Credit: Thiago Trajano via Creative Commons License)

As Moss points out, Coca-Cola was not the only company that saw Brazil as a “potential boon”. Nestle began selling its “American-style processed foods” through door to door saleswomen. The real goal of these companies is to become the main source of a particular good for the rising consumer class. For example, Coca-Cola strives to become the sole drink that people buy, to the point of outselling milk and water. Yet, that is the goal of any business, to become more successful than any other product in its domain. Coca-Cola is clearly on the right track, having sold $8.7 billion work of 10.6 billion liters of soft drinks there [Brazil] in 2010.

Yet, accompanying this boom of foreign food companies taking over the market in Brazil, there has been an accompanying rise in obesity. In a 2012 study, 52.6 % of men and 44.7 percent of women in Brazil were found to be overweight. In this increasingly globalized world where companies like Coca-Cola are infiltrating markets worldwide, I leave you with these questions: Are these business practices of targeting certain populations, especially poor populations, ethical? If not, what should be done to regulate these companies?

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One thought on “Coca-Cola in Favelas

  1. Pingback: The Gray Area of Fast Food | Globesity

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