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We speak with Thomas Rideg, who
has spent 13 years advising international clients on market positioning, market
entry, competitive trends, and partnering in Latin America, as well as the
United States and Europe. Based in São Paulo, he leads GIA’s operations in the
As we move into 2010, which Latin
American countries do you think will come out strongest from the current
“The crisis hit Latin America after it hit the rest of the world. The impact on Latin America was there, but was felt less intensely, thanks largely to successful risk management activities by companies and governments. We must remember that every country in Latin America has experienced crisis. For example, Argentina had a huge recession at the turn of the century and is recovering from it. Its peso depreciated three-fold overnight. The population and corporations that had debt in US Dollars lost everything that they owned. Every country has its own story to tell. Economies, used to hyperinflation, currency fluctuations, and incredible interest rates, have learned to deal with volatility.
Brazil is already emerging strongly from the economic downturn. The magnitude of the Brazilian market is often underestimated. The country has 190 million inhabitants, and over the past five years, 30 million have entered the consumer class. This domestic market proved to be an essential cushion during the crisis.
Mexico took a double hit with the swine flu. Its domestic market is also significant, though not as large as that of Brazil. Its proximity to the US will always attract demand that fuels growth. Many multinationals have two regional headquarters – one in Sao Paulo and one in Mexico City. When combined, Brazil and Mexico account for about 65 percent of the region’s activity.
Peru has demonstrated some of the highest growth levels in the region. Chile is stable and has good diplomatic relations with the US and the EU. Colombia is shedding its ‘safety’ curse and is on the road to prosperity.
Ranking countries according to the strength of each country coming out of the crisis is not easy, as they each have their own peculiarities and own industries in each geographical domain.
But if I were to rank them, it would be
Brazil first, then Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru.
What would you
say is the hardest challenge of conducting
market intelligence to overcome, and why?
international players, one of the toughest challenges has to do with the softer
aspects, such as culture, regulatory environments, etc. Another challenge has to do with the region’s
diversity. One of the biggest mistakes
one can make is to look at the region as a single entity. The differences are enormous.
To highlight some of them; Brazilians do not
speak Spanish, and the Spanish-speaking Latin Americans do not speak
Portuguese. When native Spanish and
native Portuguese speakers are in a meeting room, the language spoken will most
likely be English. Also, the countries
within this region have little knowledge of one another. An average Mexican, Colombian, Argentinean or
Brazilian executive very likely knows more about the US than about his/her
neighboring country. Each country
therefore should be looked at independently of the other.
challenge is the lack of public data. As
professional market intelligence practitioners, we often have a hard time
accessing all the secondary sources we need, and we have subscriptions to the
most advanced sources. What we find is
oftentimes quite fuzzy. We truly need to
know the local market in order to synthesize the information that we
gather. Primary research is fundamental,
and fact-to-face contact is always more fruitful. A good combination of secondary and primary
is important to cross check and validate information that we obtain from the
market. The most important part of the
equation is analysis. One can only
conduct a proper analysis if one knows how to interpret results
accurately. And for this to happen,
knowledge of the local culture is key.”
What else can we expect to learn from
the white paper "Market Intelligence for Latin America"?
“We will demonstrate how to overcome the challenges of conducting research in Latin America, ending with four case examples from the technology, pharmaceutical, automotive and consumer good industries.”
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