Why digital should engage with Mexico's tequila valley

Ophelia Pastrana, Mexico's best and loudest voice in digital, explains why businesses should pay more attention to Mexico. Photo: Ophelia Pastrana

WASHINGTON, October 17, 2013 — The digital community should start paying more attention to Mexico. There are stats that will shock and surprise you. As the co-founder of “Tequila Valley,” the biggest community for marketers in Mexico, Ophelia Pastrana knows better than anyone. 

She is in charge of directing the diffusion and digital marketing strategies for A+ brands in Mexico. Ophelia does not hold back. In her guest column below, she details why Mexico is emerging and what that will mean. 

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Engage Mexico by Ophelia Pastrana

Here’s a little bit of information I rarely tell people about me: I gave up my green card in order to move to Mexico. I did this because I saw an opportunity to make, not be part of, a technology market.

As the snotty techno-centric kid that I was, I was brought up to believe and enforce the notion that the Internet is a borderless place. It’s not. I also told my parents constantly that the Internet never slept. It does. But best of all, I grew up thinking that the Internet was always a “United States Thing”. It’s not. 

Matter of fact, the Internet is a severely segregated place. And the largest division is supposedly god-given: Languages. The best part is, Google knows and enforces this. Whence you go to a search engine and look up anything in spanish, all you get is spanish results back. Same for english and whatnot. Bummer for the Internet, but quite a boon for me. 

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You see, México is home to the largest block of spanish speaking Internet users, which happens to be (other than mandarin) the next best thing that is not english in the Internet content consumer market. There’s also something somewhere about user base density but I can’t come up with much more than the fact I can’t name a friend in Mexico that does not use Twitter, whilst it is severely common in the states to find people who are yet to go for a Facebook account. This.. perhaps it’s the fact that statistically, if you’re an Internet user in Mexico (40.5 million people, AMIPCI), you’re also a Facebook user (40.5 million profiles). 

So basically, the Mexican web market is not necessarily huge by US Standards, but boy is it dense. And relative to the amount of Spanish speaking users found worldwide, it’s huge. There’s twice the amount of people browsing the Internet in México than there are people living in “technology-darling-of-latinamerica” Chile. That’s why I live here.

There’s another thing to consider. Did you know Mexico is the second largest pizza product producer in the world? With it, you’d expect Domino’s to invest massively in delivery infrastructure and whatnot. But they don’t. In fact Domino’s had a social media strategy in place for about two full years before they figured they might launch an Internet ordering system, which is a very Mexican thing to do. Advertising (and demand creation) always comes first. That’s the second reason I live here.

The Mexican digital advertising pie? Some 600 US Million (Miami? 60 Million). First Spanish speaking country to import iPads, iPhone, iPods and to develop it’s own locally built Android Phones? Mexico. Home to the largest ISP and largest cell phone service provider in Latin America? Mexico. And my favorite by far, home to the largest startup investment market in Latin Ametica? .. Mexico. In fact, Mexico grows it’s energy output in KWh per year by the equivalent of what Colombia generates altogether. This place is huge and growing. 

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Oh, did I forget to say that when I arrived here (a mere 4 years ago), the digital ad market spending was a mere 250 US Million for a 20 Million wide consumer market? .. Let me rephrase that, in the past 4 years, Mexico has pumped an extra 350 US Million onto the digital ad market, which has grown twice it’s size in that time. And here’s an insider’s tip .. not a lot of extra companies have shown up to fight for those extra apples.

So there’s a lot going on. And there’s also a lot to do. As a matter of example, not only is the largest newspaper a subscription only non-web monster but Best Buy does not sell anything online or, Domino’s has yet to crack digital retail. It’s funny to watch but in the end, once you know a thing or two about how the markets developed (product-wise) in the states, you can begin to imagine which cards will fold which ways here in México.

That’s my opportunity. But I can’t bring this up all on my own. In fact, I’m quite the fat cat and would rather have more people jump in. Qualified people. Whilst México is full of entrepreneur-oriented events and a lot of nice things show up, I was lured in by to Engage México, the annual social Media conference, on the premise that this event in particular delivers on it’s speaker quality and engagement. Or pehaps, a single place where you can see what’s hot about México (Vallarta) and the nice people that make México’s internet tick. I should probably mention I’m a speaker at Engage Mexico

If you’re someone who thinks Mexico is second tier .. it’s not. If you think your local ad market is growing .. relative to here, it’s not. And of course if you want to learn about this whilst enjoying México’s finest beach and being surrounded by the best people to teach you about México then please, stop by Engage. I’ll be sure to bring my best fat-cattery related tips and tricks on how to work here.

Jeff Barrett is an experienced columnist and business leader. He has been named Business Insider’s #1 Ad Executive on Twitter, a Forbes Top 50 Influencer In Social Media and has contributed to Technorati, Mashable and The Detroit Free Press.

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Jeff Barrett

Jeff Barrett is an experienced columnist and business leader. He has been named Business Insider’s #1 Ad Executive on Twitter, a Forbes Top 50 Influencer In Social Media and has previously written for Mashable and The Detroit Free Press. 



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