Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Guaraná Pureza - A "Micro-Brewed" Soft Drink

In previous posts Flavors of Brazil has focused its eye and its palate on a Brazilian soft-drink called guaraná. Almost unknown outside Brazil outside the immigrant communities of the Brazilian diaspora, guaraná is hugely popular within the country. The market for this drink, which takes its name from and is flavored by a fruit from the Amazonian rain forest, is dominated on the national scene by two major brands - Antartica, owned by the world's largest brewing company, Anheuser-Busch InBev, and Kuat, owned by Coca-Cola Brasil.

Along side these two giants exist regional brands of guaraná, which are often extremely popular within their own geographical territory, but which are unknown elsewhere in the country. Probably the most popular of these regional brands is Guaraná Jesus, from the state of Maranhão, which was the subject of this article on Flavors of Brazil. It, of course, is dwarfed even in its home state by the two major brands.

Interestingly, I have recently discovered, thanks to an article in the most recent edition of Gula, a Brazilian culinary magazine, that there is a brewery in the southern state of Santa Catarina which is so small that it makes Guaraná Jesus seem like a multinational producer. It's continued existence and its continued success after 105 years of production show the power that a local brand can have within a limited territory, and makes a heartwarming story in the way that a product from a consortium with the unwieldy name of Anheuser-Busch InBev could never have.

This drink is aptly called Guaraná Pureza, which translates into English as Purity Guaraná. The drink was developed by brewer Alfredo Sell in the small German-immigrant village of Rancho Queimado, Santa Catarina, in 1905, and has been manufactured there, and only there, ever since. In fact, the water used in making this drink still comes exclusively from a well on Sell family property. Rancho Queimado is located 60 km. (35 miles) from the capital of Santa Catarina, Florianópolis, and that city constitutes almost 100% of Guaraná Pureza's market. The company is currently owned by the fourth-generation of the Sell family, and they have resisted various offers to sell the company. Current production of Purity Guaraná is 300,000 liters per month, compared to the 66 million liters of Guaraná Antartica that are produced in the same time frame.

In an age of logos created with the help of focus groups, market-saturating ads and commercials, sales promotions and imperative social media presence, Guaraná Pureza chugs along as it always has done, resisting change and "modernization." The logo and the label that the company uses today has not changed in 105 years, and the company does NO marketing, advertising or promotion. None. The reason? According to Ricardo Sell, the current general-manager, Guaraná Pureza does no advertising because, "We don't have to. Without exaggerating, we can speak of generations that grew up drinking [Guaraná Pureza] and it's become established as a family custom. Those who like it only drink Guaraná Pureza, even though it's a bit more expensive than other guaranás." I, for one, love the fact that a company that has never "updated"  it's product, never marketed it, and even charges more for it than the brand-leaders do, can still find a niche in the marketplace and successfully exploit it. I say "Bravo, Guaraná Pureza!"

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