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Poor change their habits Brazilian entrepreneurs are taking note of the fact that although buying power has declined in recent years, people with low incomes do everything to maintain the habits acquired previously, especially after having entered the consumer market after the currency stabilization plan initiated with the Real Plan. Economists' suspicions about this fact were confirmed by data disclosed by AC Nielsen. Traditional items from the basket of basic food staples are losing space in the supermarkets. Between 2000 and 2001, rice, a staple in Brazilian meals, fell almost 1% in sales volume and sugar dropped 3.1%. But sales of bakery cakes rose 19%. Manufacturers of cookies and refrigerated products also have no reason to complain. Other items incorporated into consumer habits of the low middle class are the mobile phone, computer, motorcycle, 21-inch TV and airline ticket. AC Nielsen shows that even with the declining buying power of the average salary in recent years, the share in consumption of socio-economic classes C and D increased. From 1997 to 1999, the portion of economically active population rose from 46.8% to 48.2%, with the incorporation of portions of class E that gained and of B that lost income. The sales growth in basic products has been stable in recent years, says Renata Aisen Wolf, a consultant in market development with Integration Consultoria Empresarial. Soft drinks, disposable diapers and household cleaning products, even with new product launches and innovations, have not persuaded the consumer to buy more than is necessary. But products for entertainment or individual and family enjoyment, like mobile phone, CD and DVD players and personal computer keep rolling out. GAZETA MERCANTIL International Weekly Edition, March 4 to 10, 2002
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