Over a third of brands in Cuba are ‘clean slates’ ready for growth | M&M Global

Over a third of brands in Cuba are ‘clean slates’ ready for growth

WPP and Kantar Millward Brown’s BrandZ Spotlight on Cuba report has revealed that the proportion of brands that are ‘Clean Slates’ in Cuba is 38% – one of the highest rates tracked anywhere in the world.

Street with oldtimers and propaganda in Santiago de Cuba

‘Clean Slates’ are brands that most people don’t know exist, or people recognise the name but do not know what the brand stands for. The global average is just 14% and the gap represents a huge opportunity for brands in Cuba to demonstrate first-mover advantage at a time of change.

The report, which focused on 43 brands in the coffee, spirits, beer and tobacco categories, also showed that Havana rum is viewed as the most innovative brand in the country, Cristal beer the most loved and Havana Club scored highest brand power due to meaningful differentiation and notoriety.

“Cuba is an island paradox and a market like no other in the world. A standard ‘fast-growing markets’ strategy just won’t work here,” said The Store WPP EMEA and Asia chief executive David Roth.

“Negotiating the nuances of working and building brands in this country – and navigating apparent contradictions – requires local insight and a lot of patience, but now’s the time to invest that energy and those resources.”

‘Personality’ analysis of brands already popular in Cuba showed that there is a high proportion of brands seen as sexy, desirable and rebellious compared to the rest of the world, with the traits two to three times as common in Cuba as they are globally.

“Gradually, the Cuban consumer market will become more competitive and shoppers will have more choice; new brands will need to make a strong impression and those brands already successful here will have to work hard to maintain their position,” said Kantar Millward Brown global head of BrandZ Doreen Wang.

“And what many brands don’t realize is that even though they’re not operating in Cuba, they’re often already there – and so are their competitors. It’s less a question of whether you enter this market than of how you manage your presence.”

In 2015, WPP was the first communications group to develop a presence in Cuba in 2015, with employees in Havana and a network of expertise on Cuba through its companies in the region.

“Whether it’s a Rolling Stones gig, a Chanel fashion show or the announcement of broadband access in parts of Havana, change is happening gradually but constantly. This makes it easy to miss the opportunity,” added Roth.

“As Cuba continues to transform, there is a clear opportunity for local and international brands to play a part in the development of its economy – and grow their business in the process.”

Anna Dobbie


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