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Retail evolution model in emerging markets: apparel store formats in Brazil

Ana Paula Miotto (GVcev - Center for Excellence in Retailing, FGV-EAESP, São Paulo, Brazil.)
Juracy Gomes Parente (Department of Marketing and GVcev - Center For Excellence in Retailing, FGV-EAESP, Sao Paulo Brazil.)

International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management

ISSN: 0959-0552

Article publication date: 9 March 2015




The purpose of this paper is to develop a taxonomy to describe and synthesize the retail strategies and store formats in the fast-changing modernization context of emerging markets. It identifies how these different formats are related to the existing literature about retail evolution. The paper proposes analogies between the empirical findings and the Big Middle Theory model developed by Levy et al. (2005).


Structured observations and personal interviews were conducted with managers/owners of 108 apparel stores located in three unplanned shopping districts in São Paulo, Brazil. Cluster analysis was used to derive the store formats.


The results identify four store formats – old fashioned, price focused, specialized, and consolidated – reflecting diverse marketing strategies and different stages in the retailing modernization cycle. There is a striking resemblance between these empirically derived formats and the four types of retail segments (Big Middle, Low price, Innovative, and in Trouble) proposed by the Big Middle model.

Research limitations/implications

There are limitations due to the exploratory nature of the research: the specific context (São Paulo, apparel retail sector) where the empirical data was collected restricts the generalization of the results to other situations; lack of precision in the appraisal of the variables might limit the research replicability. Nevertheless, this research contributes to expanding the scarce knowledge about the retailing phenomenon in emerging markets. An extension of the Big Middle model is suggested to depict the existing retail formats in emerging markets, offering therefore a theoretical contribution to the retail literature.

Practical implications

The study provides retailers with a framework against which to map their format, competitive strategy, and stages of the modernization cycle, enabling them to better adjust the configuration of their marketing mix variables. It also offers a classification scheme of stores formats which will help to describe the apparel retailing industry in emerging markets.

Social implications

Public policies are suggested to technically assist the modernization process and survival of more vulnerable retail formats.


Considering the fast-growing economic importance of the new “low-middle class” of emerging markets, and also the relevance of apparel retailing, this research is relevant and unique because it helps to bridge a gap in the limited literature and knowledge in this area.



Miotto, A.P. and Parente, J.G. (2015), "Retail evolution model in emerging markets: apparel store formats in Brazil", International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, Vol. 43 No. 3, pp. 242-260.



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