Aaron Rodriguez provides tips for expanding a business into the Latin American market

Latin America is a challenge that most industries want to take on, thanks to the investment opportunities, the continuous development of its countries, and their geographical position, which allows easy accessibility and the desire of its people to consume new products and improve their quality of life. Aaron Rodriguez, a business and strategy expert, provides recommendations that allow companies to expand in Latin America in a conscious, scalable way and with ideal conditions in economic and social factors.

According to the expert, understanding the environment is the first step to follow. Nothing can be taken lightly. It is important for any organization that intends to enter the Latin American market to understand the idiosyncrasies and the way consumers think in this part of the world since this is a region, not a generality.

“Operating in Latin America requires knowing that not all countries have the same behaviors and consumer habits,” Rodriguez suggests. “Also, make sure to generate differential, innovative and impactful marketing strategies. All brands should take a prudent amount of time to do thorough market research in order to fine-tune operational, logistical, legal, and Latin culture-thinking details.”

Language is also a factor that must be considered. Not everyone speaks the same language. So, think about another item to consider in your plan to expand your business in Latin America: communication diversity.

This is a challenge to face, as culturally, the meanings of some words, concepts, or ideas change throughout the continent. Your ability to communicate counts since, in the American continent, language has substantial variations that can bring you closer to a target audience. Customers tend to be more perceptive with those companies that generate closeness, so you should always take care of what you say and how you say it.

Trust and good relations as a premise. You will surely know the goodness and charisma of the Latin American personality. Building bridges of good communication and honest and respectful business practices will make it easier for you to open doors with employers, suppliers, staff, and customers.

“One of the most important values for the Latino population is trust,” Rodriguez explains. “If you are thinking of expanding your company throughout the continent, you should dedicate part of your time to making friends, strengthening commercial ties, and getting to know your collaborators in-depth; they will appreciate that your treatment is close and friendly.”

A local partner could also be very useful. It is clear that we cannot know it all. Therefore, it is vital that you have the support of a partner who knows the local context of the business culture.

The Latin American market has certain complexities in that all nations are very different, and a single marketing plan designed for each country is not a recommendable solution. For this reason, having a partner who knows the customs of each country is almost an obligation. You should also understand that legal, operational, and tax requirements change, so a local partner will give you the confidence that you are doing business the right way.

While entering or expanding into the Latin market is a masterstroke for any brand, you must also deal with certain not-so-pleasant aspects that, at a given moment, generate anxiety. A good recommendation is to have contingency plans in place in case you have to wait too long for procedures such as licenses, bank accounts, or administrative processes.

Expert advice is essential to know the times and resources to be used for each procedure to be carried out. Do not rule out the possibility of locating contacts in the agencies where you must go to perform these tasks.

An additional tip is to avoid, as far as possible, carrying out these processes with independent processors, since you run the risk of being swindled, losing your money, and possibly having legal problems.

Remember that conquering Latin America is a business opportunity that cannot be missed. The region’s market is already a world power, thanks to its constant growth, the interest of several companies to invest, work capacity, and new training opportunities. Do not be left behind and activate the marketing plan that will take you to conquer Latin America.

Aaron Rodriguez explains how to anticipate market trends by analyzing the consumer in social media

According to different data from annual studies of social networks, more than 85% of Internet users between 16 and 65 years old use social networks (around 20 million people). Taking this into account, it is more than evident that the internet and, in particular, social media provides companies with information that was not accessible before. This information can be based on marketing trends, which according to strategy optimization specialist Aaron Rodriguez, can be essential to anticipate what consumers are really looking for.

Understanding this is very simple. Currently, many of the conversations of Internet users are recorded on the web in different channels (much of this information is publicly available). With the help of monitoring tools, it is possible to access this and track key data.

Social listening allows you to have a real-time view of consumer behavior, make market analyses, detect consumer trends, and all this without having to invest huge resources of time, effort, or investment. Through a tool like this, you can monitor trends in search of features that can help different departments and stakeholders to predict what customers want and develop new products.

“This trend analysis can help sales and marketing departments to predict sales, adjust budgets and optimize advertising strategies and marketing plans,” says Rodriguez.

Monitoring Google searches allows you to know who your customers are and what they are most interested in from a brand’s universe. A recent study by Rodriguez examined the predictive power of searched keywords, giving insight into how marketers can better measure, analyze and apply Big Data to their efforts.

Rodriguez explains, “For example, an automotive company in the United States analyzed online search trends in order to compare the volume of searches related to a car’s features in relation to a car’s brand. The results concluded that feature searches were notably more accurate in forecasting sales.”

On many occasions, there have been talks about tracking consumer conversations on the internet. As you may realize, these conversations yield information not only about the brand but also about consumer habits.

If you want this data to help you detect trends, the idea is to collect as much information as possible about consumers, to get a broad picture of your audience, their behavior, preferences, tastes, feelings. This analysis can be done based on the different touchpoints of the customer journey.

When a key concept has a high number of mentions, it can be an indicator. Demographic profile and geolocation: by gender, age, geolocation, interests. The volume of mentions: analysis of mentions trends compare by period, same period last year, etc.

There is also sentiment which can become an indicator of the sentiment generated or the way in which consumers express themselves on a concept/topic. Influencers help you to detect the people who are generating the most buzz around a concept or topic, as well as their network of influence.

“When we talk about analyzing the competition, we refer specifically to looking at the reaction of your audience to various actions, for example how users of the competition receive a new product, or how they refer to the features of their products, everything will depend in part on the parameters you want to measure,” asserts Rodriguez.

Rodriguez has given two best practices that should be followed. The first is to choose similar campaigns or precedent actions that competitors have previously implemented to compare the same KPIs, to detect commonalities.

Second, you should detect the products that are top of mind for your consumers and those that have the highest visibility at the point of sale. Identify the channels with the greatest impact, as well as the terms that generate the highest volume of mentions.

Indicators on the visibility of your campaigns such as reach, share of voice, generated engagement, channels, influencers, and media network involved, generated hashtags, as well as the content created by your audience or UGC, are revealing insights into consumer habits.

“Social listening tools allow you to perform a competitive analysis of the sector,” Rodriguez suggests. “Ranking lists make it easy to detect common themes for all competitors in a market.”

In conclusion, let’s assume that major brands in the beverage industry want to know what consumers are saying about sugar-laden beverages. Ranking tags allow you to group all the conversations that refer to a particular topic and in this way, it is not only possible to see the volume of mentions generated, and therefore its relevance, but also whether it is associated with a particular brand.

Aaron Rodriguez explains the challenges Mexican businesses currently face

The last few years have been critical for trade globally, with the pandemic caused by COVID-19 being one of the main players in the changes. Aaron Rodriguez, a specialist with years of experience in global trade, explains the challenges facing trade in Mexico caused by the current crisis that has not yet completely disappeared.

“We must understand that countries like Mexico will have the challenge of rethinking their commercial and logistical processes in the face of this international panorama of uncertainty caused by the pandemic before COVID-19,” mentions Rodriguez.

According to Rodriguez and his specific analysis in the North American country, the arrival of COVID-19 unleashed a worrying context for world trade that has been weakening it greatly during the last few years. “Due to the rapid spread of COVID-19 and the measures that the current governments have had to take, serious consequences were provoked in the main world economies,” asserts Rodriguez.

He also mentioned that this pandemic caused countries to begin to realize the fragility of global chains. In the specific case of Mexico, it made it rethink its dependence on major world powers such as the US.

Mexico has a large window of opportunity because regional chains are the main basis for accessing international markets. For the expert, Mexico has an important competitive advantage in being connected to US economies and will recover faster than Latin America and Europe.

“Mexico has agreements with many countries to generate free trade agreements which allow its economy to flow and compared to other countries such as China it is not going to slow down,” shares Rodriguez.

It is worth mentioning that the recovery of the current economy has been asymmetric, with recovery in Asia happening faster and in LATAM, but in this region, there is a lot of informal work, and “it is suffering” as many of those workers are in services, a sector that is worse off than the others.

The current economy is asymmetric, which means that the price mechanism fails to determine the proper allocation of capital. In financial markets, for example, adequate collateral, risk, and reputation (ability to pay) are more important than the interest rate.

There is an asymmetric downturn. The decline in Asia was less than in the United States, Europe, and Latin America and now, looking towards this year, some countries will continue to have problems.

The unemployment rate in Brazil rose to 13.3% in the April-June quarter two years ago. This represents a loss of 8.9 million jobs in the period due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The current situation may have improved, but negative numbers remain.

Some countries, such as Brazil, put in place government assistance to eradicate the poverty caused by the pandemic and Mexico has not generated that. Mexico’s situation is not bad compared to other countries but not as good as in Asia.

Rodriguez also considers that what we are currently experiencing is an acceleration to migrate to the digital part “it was already happening, but it was slow, at least, not so fast,” many companies were not prepared for this world that accelerated digitization as SMEs.

Also, it was noted that people’s behavior tends to opt more and more for digital purchases. People “trust” because they see that it is “easy” and possibly will prevail by finding speed and offers with respect to face-to-face purchases.

Regarding regional chains due to the global pandemic, Rodriguez mentioned that they are being strengthened throughout the Latin American region; this will be a pillar of regional integration for Mexico. Regional value chains are a productive chaining process involving two or more countries with productive affinity, territorial proximity, and commercial complementarity.

The problems generated by COVID mean that international transportation does not favor regional trade.” It was detected that transportation does not favor, so it can be determined that for regional integration to continue advancing, infrastructure and logistics must be part of the packages of measures for Mexico’s economic recovery,” Rodriguez points out.

Consequently, the generalized border closures due to the pandemic have led to a significant increase in production in the most representative sectors for Mexico, such as manufacturing.

Likewise, together with the tensions in trade relations between the US and China, these may be factors that could lead Mexico to position itself as the world’s leading manufacturer.

Mexico is facing a very challenging situation that is unknown for how long it will continue like this. Still, above all, it is a situation in which the country has to identify its areas of expertise and exploit them to the maximum. Finally, Rodriguez commented that in the face of an uncertain and more regionalized world economy, it is unavoidable for Mexico to deepen regional integration.

Aaron Rodriguez discusses how to improve the brand experience through the customer journey

Managing the brand experience is one of the most important branding tools to increase the competitiveness of a business. To improve this experience, one of the most powerful tools is the customer journey map. Aaron Rodriguez, an expert in business optimization, explains what this process is all about and how it improves the brand experience.

“The customer journey is a Design Thinking tool that makes it easy to reflect on a map each of the stages, interactions channels and all the elements that a customer goes through in their relationship with a brand,” Rodriguez explains. “It is, therefore, a key tool for understanding and improving the user experience.”

More and more companies are aware of the benefits of the customer journey in their business strategy. It is a methodology with a growing acceptance by all types of companies and institutions and is used in many business schools and in all types of professional services.

Generating a brand experience is essential to be able to compete in complex and variable markets. Based on this premise, it is also necessary to know the great benefits of the customer journey in your business strategy.

The concept of the customer journey is a design thinking term that describes the cycles of a customer’s interaction on some service, product, or brand. It can be described as the customer’s journey through their brand experience.

Design thinking makes it easy to understand all these interactions in a unified, visual, and operational diagram. The customer journey map is a very efficient design thinking methodology for the process of creation, analysis, improvement, and training.

With its different versions, such a tool helps to get as close as possible to the customer and to analyze how they think and what they want. In essence, understanding real needs and seeking to meet customer expectations is the best way to improve the customer experience.

This map measures and describes how they interact with the services or products they consume, how they discover them, how they use them, and how or how often they recommend them. It details each touchpoint and places them in the phase of that journey, whether it is discovery, consideration, decision, use, or display.

“Brand experience uses this type of work methods intensively because it is crucial to design products and services correctly so that they understand exactly the needs and feelings of the users,” Rodriguez details.

The key is to find empathy with customers, to understand how they feel throughout the buying process: welcomed, lost, frustrated, impatient, disoriented. It is important to use these research techniques that help to be in contact with users.

The customer journey approach is different when we think of user experience (UX) than when we think of branding. The customer journey, according to UX, has to do when the user is interacting with a brand platform. On the other hand, the customer journey from a branding perspective does not require this contact and refers to situations broader than a relational or transactional context.

In short, there is no UX apart from use or consumption, but there is branding apart from that. And that is precisely the strength that brand experience can bring to the user experience: it extends to many more contexts.

The customer journey should be used as a tool to design all the states that the user goes through and thus seek to improve their experience. Knowing the best customer experience means understanding the feelings that customers create with the brand and the product. Improving the brand experience means detecting areas for improvement and managing new opportunities to be relevant.

“A good user journey will allow us to observe the steps to be taken in the development of any service or product,” Rodriguez points out. “By carrying out this outline, we will be able to determine the satisfaction of the real needs of customers and align the brand experience we want to create.”

Behind this work, we find the market positioning, the corporate culture, the story we want to deploy, and the meanings with which we want to associate our brand because experience and meanings go hand in hand.

When a user experiences a link with the brand, it will remain engraved in him, and this sensation or experience can exist outside of purchase or use. This is what we call a brand experience.

For this reason, organizations must deploy their brand management in a large number of situations and opportunities. Customer perception is born from the sum of every action or experience (positive or negative), especially at the points of friction between what the brand says and what the brand delivers.

Aaron Rodriguez explains how Russia’s invasion of Ukraine may impact Latin American trade

The beginning of the year has been marked in the international arena by the risk of a Russian invasion of Ukraine. This is added to other global problems that have been present since before, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Aaron Rodriguez, an expert in international trade, explains what impacts the Latin Americans would have with the arrival of this unfortunate event on the world side.

This potential confrontation seems distant for Latin America. However, it is not, because, in reality, NATO’s eventual backing of Ukraine and the probable sanctions would generate impacts on global financial markets with severe implications for the fragile recovery of post-pandemic world activity. Diplomacy is working to prevent this from happening, but the situation is still highly uncertain.

“The eventual invasion would initially generate an increase in market volatility and a greater demand for safe assets, where typically dollar-denominated assets and precious metals such as gold tend to benefit, acting as a refuge for investors fleeing from stock markets and, in general, from riskier assets,” Rodriguez explains. “In the latter group are the currencies, stock markets, and bonds of economists with relatively weaker fundamentals.”

In other words, in such a scenario, we would see stock market crashes, currency depreciation, restrictions on access to credit, and higher risk premiums in the region, which would make the cost of financing even more expensive for governments, companies, and individuals. This scenario would be particularly complex for the most indebted countries.

But it is not only the financial markets that would be negatively affected but also global growth. This is because an invasion scenario would divert all attention and resources to the conflict, slowing global demand, and trade.

Certainly, the intensity and involvement of more or fewer nations in a potential conflict would mark the intensity of the effect it would have on economic growth. This would certainly be negative for Latin America because the region would see reduced external momentum in circumstances where many countries have not yet recovered the level of production they would have had without the pandemic.

For its part, the conflict occurs in circumstances in which the world is facing an escalation of inflation. In this regard, Russia’s role in global energy markets will put even more upward pressure on oil and natural gas prices, which will increase upward price pressures on these essential goods for activities such as transportation, industry and electricity generation, among others.

Rodriguez points out that “Russia is one of the world’s largest oil producers and has the largest natural gas reserves globally. Hence its strategic importance, especially for Europe, due to that continent’s high dependence on its gas supply, which is accentuated in the northern winter months. However, Latin America is also suffering the effects of fuel price hikes, with increases in local gasoline and gas prices.”

In addition, Russia is the world’s leading wheat exporter and Ukraine is also one of the world’s leading wheat producers. Beyond Argentina, which is also one of the main global grain producers, the countries in the region are net importers. Consequently, a conflict between these countries would also raise food prices further.

All in all, depending on the magnitude and duration of a potential conflict, the negative effect on global activity would eventually dominate and the episode would have recessionary and disinflationary effects in the medium term.

In the political sphere, Russia maintains a particular closeness with China, which for the time being has kept out of this conflict, but which could be reactivated in a scenario in which other world powers intervene in the conflict. In turn, Russia maintains ties with some countries in the region, such as Venezuela, Cuba and Argentina.

Based on that, Rodriguez explains that “an escalation of the conflict would also generate an increase in political divisions in Latin America that would do nothing to foster collaboration between countries in the region, as well as the exchange of goods, services, and knowledge.”

Some Latin American countries that export oil, gas, or grains, such as Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Argentina, could experience some short-term positive effects on the value of their exports. But the truth is that a conflict such as the one that could be generated in the event of a Russian invasion of Ukraine does not benefit the region at all. On the contrary, with such a conflict and its potential financial, economic, and political effects, we all lose.