February 2008 - Channel Crossing: Latin America

A Region Ripe for Growth

By Daniela Todorovic

Latin America is a significant growth region for direct response, with a dramatic expansion in the number of terrestrial and satellite channels across the region. Its consumers-a population of 560 million-have become savvy buyers of DR product. The region is also experiencing a significant increase in consumer spending-a direct result of the rise in investment in both physical and social infrastructure.

There’s a 50 percent sales increase of DR products at retail, compared to 10 to 20 percent just a few years ago. Both traditional retail and “As Seen on TV” dedicated retailers contribute to the increase.

Ecuador and Venezuela, while small in size, boast a large contingent of budding DR entrepreneurs and are an important part of the Latin American boom. Brazil has also emerged as a growth market with vast potential. Because of its large population (185 million-about half the size of the entire Latin American market) and its geographical advantages, Brazil is an ideal country to implement direct marketing within the region. Brazil has succeeded in keeping inflation under control, has an excellent postal service and boasts a robust e-commerce platform.

In order to successfully leverage this opportunity, you must “speak the language”-literally. Latin America is rich with cultural diversity; product positioning must address the very specific needs of today’s Latin American consumer. Choose partners who have devoted years cultivating close partnerships with local distributors; these relationships play a pivotal role in customizing products, messages and programming to connect with and sell to the region’s audiences. My company and its wholly owned subsidiary, which buys media across the region, work in tandem with Latin American distributors to meticulously address these issues. The company works closely with its distributors to spot trends, and to create top-shelf infomercials.

Still, challenges continue to exist and must be addressed. Many Latin American countries are still COD markets. Others struggle with inflation. There are high and compensatory duties, and approvals must be secured across such categories as electrical, cosmetics and fitness.

Consider these important tips before entering the Latin America market:

  • Deeply involve your audience and your distributors, sharing experiences and expertise;

  • Evaluate the product to ensure it fits the market;

  • Each country has its own needs and customs. Address all issues, from the marketing message to the product’s packaging. Be certain product is shipped with instructions customized to each country and local telemarketing is supported by scripts in local Spanish;

  • Ensure quality standards are met; and

  • Price product correctly.

Beyond the television platforms that remain a major feature of our DR campaigns, e-commerce in Latin America is fast becoming a critical component in the DR mix. We are experiencing a measurable increase in sales generated by the Internet, and project that e-commerce is a growth opportunity across the region.

Daniela Todorovic is president of Thane Direct Company, a wholly owned subsidiary of Thane Direct. She can be reached via e-mail at [email protected].


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