Latin America is not a country
I live in Miami, the city many call “the capital of Latin America”, and they are not far off. It’s a city composed mainly of Latin Americans from every South American country or, at the very least, of Latin American descent. This was one of the main reasons why I landed here 11 years ago; if I wanted to work on international and regional communications campaigns with a focus on Latin America, Miami was the place to do it.
If there is anything I have learned after sharing all this time working with professionals from all these countries, is that although it’s possible to work with centralized communication campaigns also known as “pan-regional” campaigns – thanks in part due to the shared religion and language (with the exception of Brazil), as well as other cultural values and behavior patterns like the importance placed on family, hospitality, etc., which all help in achieving a homogeneous criterion, greater control and savings in execution – it is, however also very important, especially in times of pandemic, to understand the particular circumstances and characteristics of each country along with its peculiarities.
Relevance of the message in the new digital era
From a creative and message standpoint, even though we speak the same language, experience has shown me that to increase the relevance of a brand, one must adjust to different shades, vocabulary and/or expressions, especially if you want to promote closeness and confidence. And in the case of the media, consumption in Latin America has suffered increasing disruptions in recent times, due to the new digital era, and no media has been more affected than printed media (magazines and newspapers) where the percentage of people who claim “never to have read them” is on the rise.
I have personally witnessed this change reflected in the advertising investments of many industries, especially those in tourism and beauty. Hotel groups, such as Sol Melia and Iberostar and brands like Puig group and LVMH have been reducing their investments in magazines since 2014 to approximately half in favor of digital media, thus strengthening their e-commerce sales models.
That said, this change in media consumption trends is not happening to the same extent in all countries.
Colombia – second to Brazil in its investment in digital media – is experiencing, unlike the rest, a slight increase in press consumption. As for radio, we also see some discrepancies; for example, Chilean radio stations, unlike the rest of the SA countries, increased their audience according to an Ipsos survey during the pandemic. As for television, although still growing in Chile, estimates show a medium/long term decrease in consumption due to the unprecedented growth of video in digital media.
This effect, however, is not so much the reality in countries like Colombia and Peru. As you can see, generalizing a media consumption trend is complicated at best since there is always the country that’s the exception to the rule.
From my experience and from what I see especially from IM+C – a company where I am lucky enough to be able to work under an “internationally localized” communication model – I can strongly recommend brands with an international spectrum to first and foremost work on their communication strategy by thinking about integrating the creative message with the media. Although the execution is centralized, which helps to optimize the implementation process and financial savings, it is important to focus your efforts on a strategy supported by research of local consumer behavior as well as the technological possibilities of segmentation that the market increasingly offers, thanks to the new measures of information gathering.
This, without a doubt, will be the basis for an efficient communication strategy in the region, or rather, in the varied combination of cultures and countries that make it up.
By: Fernando Monedero, Country Manager at IM+C