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It's time for brands to invest in Cuba

News, 13 March 2017
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HAVANA: Although the US trade embargo on Cuba still exists, a new report from Kantar Millward Brown advises international brands to take a serious look at the opportunities the country presents.

WPP's global research agency, which produces the respected BrandZ studies, has now released a BrandZ Spotlight on Cuba report, which highlights the potential for local and international brands to grow in this market of 11m educated consumers.

Focusing on 43 brands in four key categories – covering coffee, spirits, beer and tobacco – the report found that Cuba has one of the highest rates in the world for brands dubbed "clean slates".

Kantar Millward Brown said these "clean slates" are brands that most people don't know exist, or people recognise the name but don't know what the name stands for.

The proportion of "clean slates" stands at 38% in Cuba, compared to a global average of 14%, and the report said "this gap represents a huge opportunity for brands in Cuba".

Furthermore, the report's personality analysis revealed that Cuba hosts a high proportion of brands which are perceived to be "sexy", "desirable" and "rebellious".

Elsewhere, Havana Club rum is seen as the most innovative brand in Cuba, while Cristal beer is the most loved brand, closely followed by Heineken and Café Serrano coffee.

Havana Club also tops the BrandZ measure of Brand Power, which assesses how meaningfully different and well known a brand is.

"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 David Roth, CEO of The Store WPP, EMEA and Asia.

"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," he added.

"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."

Data sourced from Kantar Millward Brown; additional content by Warc staff

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