And no wonder. It's a market boasting more than 200 large international marketers, including Gessy Lever, which invested more than $70 million here last year. New to the territory are Eastman Kodak Co., Campbell Soup Co., Blockbuster Entertainment Group and Wal-Mart Stores, preparing to enter the market. Volkswagen, General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and Fiat plan to invest a total of $6.5 billion in the market by the year 2000.
As the new real currency cut inflation to only 2.4% a month, consumption began to grow. And the government, which feels the added consumption endangers Brazil's economic stability, is trying to hold consumption down.
"We think demand is too high, so we have to take a few steps to prevent [the new real] from sinking," said Pedro Malan, Brazil's finance minister.
To protect national industry, Brazil recently raised taxes on electronic goods-and hiked taxes on imported cars, to 70% from 20%, causing some car marketers to consider vacating the country.
The taxes have been drastic: Mail-order companies no longer expect Brazilian expansion, and many consumers find it easier and cheaper to travel and buy their goods abroad.
"Now's the time to control inflation," said economist Rudiger Dornbush of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass. "If the president doesn't do anything, the economy might be seriously in danger."
Said Young & Rubicam New York President Peter Georgescu: "The consumption explosion does not benefit advertising, because marketers run out of products to distribute."