New York, NY, 16.08.2021

From tradition to ambition: Understanding today’s LatAm consumer

by Diane Crispell

The world is a big place -- so much so that a region of more than 600 million people is often overlooked. Global headlines tend to be dominated by news from places like the US, Western Europe, and China – the “accepted” powerhouses of the global economy and politics.  Yet Latin America already accounts for over $54 billion in ecommerce sales, with vibrant cultures and economies that are highly receptive to ideas and products from other regions.

Fully recognizing and acting on the potential of Latin America’s diverse consumers requires a deeper understanding of the region – a focused look at its core markets.

A new GfK report, Latin America Update, sheds fresh light on the three largest regional economies – Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico. Based on research from GfK Consumer Life, it reveals consumers’ values, lifestyles, attitudes, and shopping behavior, and offers insights about marketing in this dynamic region.

Values reveal a rich cultural tapestry

Personal values are not only the windows into people’s souls -- they are a way to understand what motivates consumers, with insights essential for product planning and brand messaging. The GfK Consumer Life Global study has been tracking personal values for more than 20 years. They reveal that Latin America is a region of complexity, with mindsets that incorporate both tradition and modernity.

At the top level, Latin Americans share a number of key values with people around the world. They list Honesty, Protecting the family, Self-reliance, Self-esteem, and Freedom among their top-10 personal values, just as people do globally.

People in Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico also share a number of values with each other --ones that they prize more highly than do people in other regions. These include Modesty, Perseverance, and Traditional Gender Roles, but also outward-looking values such as Open-mindedness and Internationalism. Latin Americans in all markets also care more than average about Learning, Social Tolerance, and Equality. In these ways, Latin Americans share a cohesive regional mindset to a greater degree than do consumers in places like Asia and Europe.

This does not mean that Latin America is homogeneous, however. Brazilians sometimes tend to lean toward a European perspective; for example, they are more likely than average to prioritize Fulfilling Work, as are Italians. Mexicans place higher value than their regional peers on Thrift and Tradition, but also Individuality and Being enterprising. Brazilians may epitomize the multifaceted nature of the region best – they place higher-than-average value on both Having fun and Faith.

One important way in which Latin Americans’ values stand out from other regions is in their relative lack of a generation gap. Simply put, young people in Latin America do not differ as much from their older peers as those in other parts of the world. This does not mean they are merely copying their elders, because they don’t share all values. But it suggests common ground across age groups that marketers can leverage.

In fact, Latin America exhibits the smallest generation gaps (between Gen Z and Boomers) for fully 17 of the 57 personal values that GfK Consumer Life tracks; it has the largest gaps for just 3 values. In direct contrast, North America exhibits the largest generation gaps for 17 values and the smallest gaps for just 3.

Since 57 values are a lot of information to digest, Consumer Life divides consumers into 5 values segments. These make it easier for marketers to target groups of people. They reveal that Argentineans’ overall mindset is closer to that of Western Europe, while Brazilians and Mexicans look much alike – that is to say, different from both Argentina and the world as a whole.

From a marketing perspective, we can see Latin America as a large, extended family that shares a foundation of basic values, yet leaves plenty of room for individual freedom of expression. Each culture boasts unique preferences and values, creating both opportunities and challenges for brands ambitious enough to take on this extraordinary region. To make wise decisions along the way, ground your strategies in a clear picture of this diverse and burgeoning ecosystem.

Diane Crispell is Senior Consultant at GfK Consumer Life and author of
Latin America Update report.

Click here to access a sample of the new
GfK Consumer Life report on Latin America


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