Rafi Mohammed

Brazil’s National Pricing Plan: All You Can Eat

Posted on November 12th, 2009 (1 Comments)

On an occasion, I like to lighten things up and this blog fits this desire. You won’t make any money from the insights in this particular blog, but as fellow pricing enthusiasts, hopefully you will find it interesting.

Finishing up a speech in Brazil last night, I decided to try the national dish: Rodizio. Chances are that you have a Brazilian type churrascaria in your city: it is a restaurant where you pay one price and servers come to your table with skewers of barbecued beef, pork, chicken, lamb, and sausage – you pick whatever you like and consume to your heart’s delight.

The conference organizer generously arranged for me to stop at an authentic churrascaria and as you would expect, the cuisine was excellent. But what really struck me as fascinating is that the national dish of Brazil involves an all you can eat pricing plan. The national dishes of every other country in the world tend to involve a la carte pricing.

A local friend told me that it is common for him and his colleagues to go to an all you can eat churrascaria at least once a week. Curious, I asked if he was bothered that he had to pay the same price for his wife and daughter, given that they eat considerably less than he does. He shrugged his shoulders and gave me a “that’s how it is” look.

I spent more time than I care to admit trying to figure out why this pricing plan has been uniquely adopted for the national dish and still do not have a convincing rationale. Here’s what I come up with so far:

Variety is an obvious answer. Yes, there are several different popular entrees, but then again there are many different types of Indian curries or Japanese sushi. A combo plate or a la carte ordering could be used instead.

My best answer is that meat is a commodity – it is relatively cheap in Brazil and this led to a “commodity like” all-you-can-eat plan. Interesting, in both Brazil (and the tradition remains in the U.S.), you can order takeout from a churrascaria and they charge by the kilo. It’s the same price regardless of whether you fill your container full of filet mignon or a less popular meat.

A friend in Boston suggests that the all you can eat plan reflects the generous culture of Brazil. Could be, but there are other generous cultures in the world - why don’t they reveal their generosity with a similar pricing plan?

Would love to hear your insights! We’ll be back to profits and growth next week.

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Readers' Comments on This Blog Entry

From Steve on November 12th, 2009
When I was down in South America with EJ in '95, we did a couple of visits to one of these places in Rio. Terrific. During my first visit it was explained to me by some locals that the first 2, 3 or 4 times they come to your table they are serving the lesser cuts of beef. Only later, as you begin to fill up, do they offer you the better cuts. For our second visit we just took nibbles from the early offerings and then bulked up with the good stuff. Mission accomplished!!