When I tell someone from the United States that I am doing a marketing project for a
nonprofit in Buenos Aires, they are usually surprised. Few people in the States understand what Buenos Aires is like, but they often assume that it is very different from the cities they are familiar with. What I have learned after five weeks of living here is that, while people and companies in Buenos Aires have some cultural differences, the way companies market and react to marketing here is very similar to the United States.
The Trend of Digital Advertising: In the USA, a lot of the marketing that I have done and seen is digital. Each year, companies are spending more money on digital and online marketing. Companies want to connect with their customers on a more personal and curated level, and the Internet and rise in the use of mobile devices has allowed them to do that. While in Buenos Aires, specifically while working at Pilares, I have seen the same trend. Buenos Aires is a technologically advanced city; many people have access to the Internet wherever they are and are in touch with brands via online platforms like social media and websites. Pilares conducts most of its marketing online through its Facebook, Twitter, and website. And the reasons they use these platforms above any others is the same reason most companies, especially nonprofits, do in the USA: relatively low cost, high scalability, high customizability, and high measurability.
Of course, as far as place goes, there are many other areas where people can market in a large city such as Buenos Aires. People look for eye-catching, convenient places to buy products – not very different from the United States at all. And this isn’t very surprising, given many firms in Argentina and much of Latin America follow the lead of companies and business leaders in the United States and Europe.
Cultural Differences: Knowing the culture of the population you are marketing to is essential to designing marketing strategy. Of course, the people and customs of Buenos Aires can be quite different from those in the United States…
Language: One of the most obvious and difficult issues to tackle as an American marketing in Buenos Aires is the language. Since I have studied Spanish for several years now, I can easily understand it and (most of the time) can hold a basic conversation using the language. However, marketing to a population of Spanish speakers as a non-native and non-fluent Spanish speaker is incredibly difficult. That is because the nuances of communication and language are at the core of effective marketing tactics. For instance, writing a slogan for a brand can be hard to do in English; you must pick an arrangement of words that is short, understandable, attention-getting, and all-encompassing of the product you are selling. When you must do the same thing in a language that you are not well-versed in, it can feel impossible.
When Christina and I were working to come up with a slogan for Pilares’ ninth anniversary campaign, we had a whole list of English ideas that we thought fit perfectly. Then, after trying to translate our messaging to Spanish, our supervisor informed us that the translated words made little sense or sounded awkward. Turns out a message that makes complete sense to an English speaker, even when translated correctly to Spanish, may not actually translate the original idea of the message. This has been a prevailing obstacle during my time working for Pilares, and we have had to collaborate with our supervisors to edit most of the Spanish we write.
Power of Relationships: During my five weeks working in an n Argentinian business, I have really come to notice the emphasis on friendships in the workplace. Before getting to work, it is customary to greet everyone in the office and have casual conversations, which is unlike a lot of workplace cultures in the United States.
However, this culture is not only important to remember in the workplace. The value Argentinians place on interpersonal relationships – especially when it comes to family – is important to keep in mind when marketing to customers. People here are much less inclined to do business with you or your company if you cannot first set up relationships. These relationships are important in the United States, as well. However, it is especially important in Argentina to establish and navigate these relationships tactfully, as a meaningful relationship with a customer could mean even deeper customer loyalty, while a lack of positive customer relations could ruin chances of success.
Overall, marketing in Buenos Aires is very similar to marketing in the United States. One must simply give extra attention to the cultural differences of the Porteños, their nuanced dialect and their strong emphasis on relationships. As in all international business, it is important to realize that a message that is received well in the United States may not always transplanted or translated perfectly to a Buenos Aires market.