Can British businesses win over Latin American consumers with products that are cheap, cheerful and plentiful? We all doubt it, mainly because:
– The margins would be too low to make the effort worthwhile – no business will have an incentive to expand with such tight margins, given the risks and costs involved (in money, time and other resources)
– We don’t have a competitive advantage in this market segment – why buy cheap British?
– Linked to this last point is the perception of anything “British” being associated with “expensive” and “quality”
On the other hand, for the reasons discussed on a previous blog post, luxury British brands are making it into Latin America. I would personally like them to embrace their Britishness and fly the flag – be proud of what you offer. For example, today I visited the Dr Martens shop in Leeds and I was really moved by their Englishness and their Made in England range (see photo here). I also visited the Liz Earle shop and loved that Union Jack picture in the shop (see photo here). Many British retailers are happy to use the “Made in England” or “London” words closely attached to their brand (think “Molton Brown London”, “Smythson of Bond Street”, “Ted Baker London”…). Benefits quickly associated with British products in the minds of Latin American consumers are craftsmanship, quality, tradition, attention to detail, uniqueness, legacy – make the most of it! As discussed on the DHL UK blog,”there’s never been a better time to export British”.
Just today, someone asked me if Latin Americans had the same fascination with anything British such as Japan, where for example Paul Smith is worshiped. I would say that, while most Latin Americans would regard “Britishness” very highly, the key point to bear in mind (especially when compared to Japan) is that only a small (or very small) proportion of the population of Latin American countries can actually afford to pay for that “Britishness”. That is why “British” has to be synonym with “premium”.
Maybe only 1% of the Latin American population can afford these products. Maybe only 10% for other premium but not luxury products. But even if we are talking 1%, based on a population of nearly 600 million, that is still 6 million potential consumers… Worth considering, then? And also bear in mind that these economies are growing and purchasing power is increasing. If your premium brand could target 0.5% of the market 5 years ago, it is very likely to now be able to target a higher proportion.
Back to the question – is premium AND British the perfect combination? I would definitely think so.