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16 November 2021
Gaming and shopping: Brazil's shared rules of success
Gaming hardware & softwareManaging across marketsBrazil
Sea is a Singaporean company that makes games and e-commerce platforms; when it entered Brazil, however, it was plunging into a massive market for both where it faced powerful incumbents – its success is down to a handful of key lessons.
Why it matters
Sea’s plan in Brazil was to enter the market with gaming but to build up to conquering e-commerce, as an excellent new piece in Rest of World explains. Its apps – Free Fire in gaming and Shopee in e-commerce, both major players in Southeast Asia – emphasise key underlying principles. As reporter Leo Schwartz writes:“[Both apps] emphasised accessibility, mobile-first apps, and above all else, adapting to local audiences”.
New rules of expansion
Most companies grow at home and then expand to neighbours, but Sea looked for similarities across regions.
The company designed for lower-end phones, with smaller game maps and rustic graphics; you can play or shop even with the cheapest phones - not everybody can afford an iPhone, remember.
The story is a great example of engaging game-focussed streamers when building towards a wider goal.
But a bit of influencer spend isn’t enough. After entering Brazil in late 2017 with the Free Fire game, the developer set about creating tournaments, streaming channels, and auxiliary apps, all in Portuguese and designed for a Brazilian audience with Brazilian characters in the game, a strategy similar to one deployed across Southeast Asia.
Shopee, which rose to a kind of infamy around the world for its ad featuring Ronaldo, used extensive gamification in its app in order to stimulate engagement and save on media spending; users open the app to play games but are tempted by cheap prices and free shipping (the company is as yet running at a loss).
Engagement on one platform cross-pollinates to the other.