Brazilian brands putting shoes on feet all over the world

The diversity of materials and models, sustainability, comfort, design, and quality are some of the characteristics of Brazilian shoes that, combined with the tradition of the country's industry, attract more and more markets worldwide. With great potential for growth in exports, Brazilian brands bet on the internationalization process as a distinguishing feature that places value not only on the company but also on the product. And to strengthen the presence of Brazilian footwear companies in the foreign market, the industry has been relying on the Brazilian Footwear program for more than 20 years. The program is developed by Abicalçados in partnership with the Brazilian Trade and Investment Promotion Agency (Apex-Brasil).

Present in more than 150 countries, made-in-Brazil shoes appear on the feet of consumers from all continents. The fourth largest producer of shoes in the world, the largest manufacturer outside Asia, the Brazilian industry is regarded as an important partner of international brands that choose to manufacture in Brazil by using the private label model. At the same time, strategies for differentiation and international positioning are adopted by companies so that their brands, already known in the domestic market, also take over the world.

Last year alone, around 93 million pairs – for which USD 658 million, equivalent to R$ 3 billion, were paid – left the assembly lines of Brazilian factories to markets such as the United States, China, Chile, Argentina, Italy, and the United Arab Emirates, among others. Check out some examples of footwear brands that conquer their spaces across borders and employ internationalization as a business strategy.

Exports as strategy
The coordinator of Abicalçados' Trade Promotion Unit. Letícia Sperb Masselli, explains that the work to penetrate the foreign market is very challenging. “When the company chooses to export its brand, exporting goes far beyond buying and selling. It is necessary to create a desire, to develop a partner that believes in the purpose of the brand, and all this requires a more consistent strategy,” she points out. This penetration of a company's own brand into another country/continent represents long-term planning aimed at internationalization.

In this context, understanding the consumer audience of each market, the competition in these places, and the local culture are fundamental issues for the brand to be able to enter the overseas market. “Actions carried out by the Brazilian Footwear are important allies of the companies in this process; as an example, it is possible to mention the Public Notice for Digital Marketing, which enabled us to subsidize investments of the brands in the end consumers of the retailers, and Brasil Fashion Now, which focuses on the penetration of brands that actively prospect customers that are compatible for their positioning in the markets,” says Masselli. She also mentions that the evolution of Brazilian companies is visible over the more than two decades that the program has been operating. Currently, 75% of Brazilian footwear exports are carried out by companies that are members of the Brazilian Footwear.

The manager of the Brazilian Footwear program at Apex-Brasil, Mariele Christ, highlights that the Agency, linked to the Federal Government, aims to take the distinguishing features of Brazil to the world and draw international attention to the country's potential, relying not only on the support of Apex-Brasil's offices in Brazil and abroad but also on the Trade Promotion Departments at Itamaraty, which have more than 120 positions in several countries.

According to Christ, even in the face of a challenging year like 2020, Apex-Brasil supported a total of 14,500 Brazilian companies through the several services it provides, a figure 1.4% higher than in 2019. “Of all the companies supported, more than 6,000 were new incoming companies, that is, they did not participate in any action by Apex-Brasil in the last two years, a figure 5.7% higher than the one registered during the previous cycle,” she celebrates, saying that the Brazilian Footwear is one of the most prosperous and oldest industry projects in effect among those supported by the Agency.

Get to know some successful cases in the international market:

Schutz in the United Arab Emirates
With intensive marketing actions on the web and in stores, Schutz is able to not only position its brand well in several markets but also to obtain excellent sell-out results through local footwear e-commerce platforms. A concrete example is the performance of the brand of the Arezzo & Co group in the United Arab Emirates, a market with high purchasing power. The group's export manager, Luís Fernando German, highlights that the UAE showed excellent adherence to the brand's profile. “We positioned Schutz in the best local e-commerce stores, as well as in the best shop windows in the region. Whether on the mobile phone app, on the website, or in brick-and-mortar retail, the important thing is to always be present in customers' lives," he mentions, naming partners such as;; and, among others. The international presence and the establishment of brands aimed at the foreign audience are part of the essence of the group, which participates in international fairs, business networking meetings, and other prospecting actions with the support of the Brazilian Footwear. In addition to the results in the Middle East, sales to Europe and Latin America also stand out.

Bibi in China
The positive highlight for Bibi is its performance in the Chinese market, which was aided by the Brazilian Footwear. The company's president, Andrea Kohlrausch, says that they began investing in that market in 2013, during a trade mission organized by the Program. "Since the brand started investing in China, growth has been constant. The brand is present in strategic cities, such as Shanghai, at the Isetan department store, located on Nanjing Road – one of the most popular commercial destinations in China – and in the Chinese capital, at the prestigious department store SKP Beijing,” says the businesswoman. In addition to brick-and-mortar stores, Bibi also sells its products online on platforms such as Tmall, Taobao, and Kohlrausch points out that nowadays exporting is a fundamental part of the company's sales strategy as it reduces dependence on the domestic market, increases productivity, and improves the quality of products.

AnatomicShoes in the United Kingdom
Gateway to the internationalization of AnatomicShoes,
 the United Kingdom represents 50% of the brand's revenue abroad. The work in this market started almost 20 years ago. It is the most established market among the more than 65 countries the company is present in. The founding partner of the brand, Moema Pimentel, says that they created a community in the country, not just an office and a distribution center. “We are present in over 600 retail outlets, including independent stores, multi-brand stores, large chains, and department stores. We are also present in clothing stores that complement their operations with our shoes and in some podiatry offices, where professionals provide specialized products.” AnatomicShoes also has its own e-commerce website and marketplace, in addition to its own stores within other marketplaces. “We want to maximize the opportunities of an inventory and that is why we also sell through social media. We have placed online ads and have already carried out actions with influencers.” The relationship that the brand has already established with content producers also helps in the strategic positioning of insertion into campaigns and the media.

Usaflex in Chile
Present in more than 50 countries, Usaflex has fifteen licensed stores abroad. The company's export manager, Jefferson Berz, stresses that the foreign market is very important; it represents 8% of the company's revenue. “Usaflex welcomes international expansion and concentrates a large percentage of its business in Latin American countries, with an emphasis on Chile,” he says. In that country, for example, the company managed to place the brand in one of the main retail chains in Latin America. It is a partnership that was established through work that started to be conducted in 2019, with the participation in the public notice for International Digital Marketing of the Brazilian Footwear. “The project was essential, as it included the creation of Usaflex ads on Facebook, Instagram, and on the website of its local partner. The brand also worked with e-mail marketing for end consumers. The results were excellent, with a growth of 15% in exports to that market,” says the manager.

Democrata in Paraguay
Democrata's presence in Paraguay is so strong that the Brazilian brand of men's shoes has already been recognized by local consumers as one of the most remembered brands in the country. This recognition is the result of a partnership that has lasted about 18 years. The brand's export manager, Anderson Melo, also says that it is in the Paraguayan market that, for about eight years, one of the licensed stores that the brand has abroad is located. “Our international performance is widespread. We are present in 62 countries, on all continents,” he stresses, saying that 20% of the company's revenue comes from exports. The brand's international strategy involves the activation of licensed stores, multi-brand stores, and e-commerce channels. “We seek to develop communication and positioning with local partners that are in line with the culture of each market,” he says. In the coming weeks, the brand will launch its own e-commerce store in the Netherlands. “In addition to serving the Netherlands, our goal is to expand to other European markets,” Melo foresees.

Vicenza in Italy
The European market is one of Vicenza's main partners abroad. The brand even has an office and a showroom in Italy, with a local partner. The company's export manager, Geison Ferreira, explains that Vicenza's work towards penetration and internationalization has been going on for 15 years and provided the company with solidity in its operations, brand recognition, and a strong presence in all European countries. “Today, in addition to having a showroom in Italy with a native sales team and a local distribution center, we also launched our website (, which allowed us to have a closer relationship with customers and made it possible to better understand the purchasing profile of European consumers,” the manager says, emphasizing that the information has been extremely relevant to improve the supply of products. Currently, 25% of the company's production output is geared towards the European market, and the goal is to further expand this presence, especially through digital actions.

Piccadilly in Kuwait
Treating exports as a strategy for the company, the foreign market is an important part of Piccadilly's planning since 35% of the group's total revenue comes from the international market. "And today, almost 100% of our exports are under our own brand," the brand's export manager, Bruna Kremer, celebrates. Piccadilly is present in more than 14 thousand retail outlets in about 100 countries and also has 25 exclusive stores, most of them in malls and shopping centers, all around the world. Out of those, 14 are located in Kuwait. “Piccadilly's presence in Kuwait started as distribution, and the partner identified the opportunity to open exclusive stores. We advise them about the layout and support them with exclusive communication materials,” says Kremer. At the end of 2020, the brand started to develop its franchise project abroad. The first franchise is already operating in Ecuador. Kremer explains that, although more than 65% of the company's exports are geared towards markets in Latin and Central America, there is an effort to expand into Europe and the Middle East, with the fundamental support of the Brazilian Footwear, especially in digital actions in the old continent.

Klin in the United States
Intensifying the brand's presence in the foreign market in recent years, Klin is present in more than 60 countries. The United States is the country that stands out the most among these markets. Displayed on the shelves of chains and in specialized stores in the U.S. market, the brand's products, aimed at children, have been achieving increasingly better results among local consumers. “We enjoyed an increase of more than 100%,” says the company's CEO, Rodrigo Righi. The executive emphasizes that the work in that country is the result of contacts with international buyers achieved through participation in in-person and now digital fairs, which are supported by the Brazilian Footwear program. The manufacturer bets on the internationalization of the brand as an opportunity for expansion. “In addition to attaching value, it provides the opportunity to smooth out the rough edges with experiences we had by selling to different markets,” Righi concludes.


About the Brazilian Footwear:
The Brazilian Footwear is an exports promotion program developed by Abicalçados in partnership with Apex-Brasil. The program aims to increase exports of Brazilian footwear brands through development, trade promotion, and image actions focusing on the international market.
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About Apex-Brasil:
The Brazilian Trade and Investment Promotion Agency (Apex-Brasil) works to promote Brazilian products and services abroad and to attract foreign investment into strategic sectors of the Brazilian economy. To reach these goals, Apex-Brasil carries out diverse trade promotion actions that aim to promote exports and to value Brazilian products and services abroad, such as prospective and trade missions, business networking meetings, support for the participation of Brazilian companies in important international fairs, and visits from foreign buyers and opinion formers to get to know the Brazilian manufacturing structure, among other business platforms that also aim to strengthen the Brazil brand.  
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