Go to the South & Central America Homepage »

Go to the Global Homepage »

January 2014 South & Central America Trend Bulletin:


Welcome to the first edition of our South & Central America Trend Bulletin!

From continued demand for education reform in Chile, to the World Cup in Brazil (and much more in between), 2014 promises to be a year of contrasts and challenges for South & Central American consumers, and, by extension, the brands that serve them.

One certainty: consumers' expectations will continue to ratchet up. Another certainty: huge opportunities await those who understand and cater to consumers’ ever-changing needs and wants with exciting new offerings. Even more so for those brands who actually move out in front and set the agenda.

With that in mind, we bring you five crucial trends that will excite South & Central American consumers in 2014. Enjoy, and then get busy applying them!


Smart is the new status symbol.

Up to now, many consumers in South & Central America have resigned themselves to a lack of access to new ideas, fresh thinking and formal, good quality education, which is just too expensive for the majority of citizens.

But things are changing: the online world has made information abundant; savvy entrepreneurs are the new rock stars; the new, better-educated middle classes are seeking continued personal development and fulfillment.

Two signs of the times:

Considered against their international peers, consumers in South & Central America place the greatest value on higher education: with the vast majority of those in Brazil (94%), Mexico (92%), Chile (92%) and Venezuela (91%) believing that higher education is vital (vs. 78% globally).
(Nielsen, September 2013)
South & Central America includes six out of the top 10 countries where consumers say they are more willing to buy products and services from companies that support education (Colombia: 90%, Brazil & Venezuela: 88%, Peru: 87%, Chile 83%).
(Nielsen, September 2013)

So what does this mean for brands? Assist consumers in their thirst for smarts, of course.

No matter what industry you’re in, study the examples below and start helping your customers brush up on their skills and knowledge.

Burger King & Alfaguara
Books replace toys in kids’ menu


During August and September 2013, Burger King in Paraguay partnered with publishing house Alfaguara to replace toys with books in its kids’ meals. Each week a new title from a Paraguayan author was distributed. Children could also experience live storytelling sessions in several Burger King restaurants in Asunción.

Easy Taxi
Cab firm turns taxis into traveling libraries


In April 2013, São Paulo cab app firm Easy Taxi launched a cultural project to turn the city’s taxis into portable libraries. Created in partnership with the Green Mobility Institute, the campaign used the company’s cars as hubs for exchanging books, with passengers able to take titles to read at their leisure.

SocialLab: Puentek Bus
Mobile innovation lab brings 3D printing to young people across Latin America


Launched in August 2013, the Puentek Bus is designed to empower young people in poorly resourced areas of Latin America by teaching them technology and entrepreneurial skills. The bus, which is kitted out with 3D printers and other prototyping-machines for visitors to try, started its journey in Brazil before travelling through South America. The project was organized by SocialLab, a Uruguay-based social enterprise supported by Telefónica and Argentine software development company Globant.

When asked about the most important factor in getting a job, 40% of Mexicans aged 15 to 29 years old ranked 'education' as important as 'social connections'.
(Ibero-American Organization for Youth, July 2013)

Language school offers online English course via supermarkets


Since June 2013, consumers have been able to purchase online English courses from Brazilian language school CNA in selected supermarkets, department stores and pharmacies. Customers can sign up for a course by purchasing a password-equipped card (costing BRL 34.90/ approximately USD 15), which then unlocks 20 hours of virtual classes on CNA’s web platform.

Red Balloon: Celebrity Grammar Cops
Language school students teach English to celebrities through Twitter


April 2013 saw Brazilian language school Red Balloon launch a Twitter campaign to help students aged 7 to 13 years with spelling. Titled ‘Celebrity Grammar Cops’, the scheme encouraged its students to politely tweet spelling corrections to their favorite native English-speaking celebrities.


People-powered change: one city at a time.

South & Central American cities are a heady mix of energy, chaos and potential. And in 2014, that potential will be unleashed as the region’s urban consumers agitate for and look to effect change. Meet the CIVICSUMERS.

Fueling this trend in 2014? Social media. Far from being a trivial distraction, the region’s frustrated CITYSUMERS will turn to social media to accelerate their demands. Some stats:

73% of South & Central American consumers agree that ‘social media gives ordinary people an extraordinary ability to influence others and create change’.
(Havas, February 2013)
78% of the activists at the recent protests in São Paulo organized themselves with the help of social networks.
(Ibope, June 2013)
89% of Brazilians use social media to engage with companies around their CSR initiatives.
(Cone, July 2013)

For brands, the opportunities are clear. Learn from the projects below, scan the emerging platforms that help people express their local needs and desires, reach out to CIVICSUMERS and empower, assist, support and even celebrate them.

Benefeitoria: Rio+
Crowdsourcing platform implements ideas for urban improvement


Launched in April 2013, Rio+ is a digital platform aimed at resolving Rio de Janeiro’s municipal problems by harnessing its online community. Developed by crowdfunding site Benfeitoria, members can submit ideas for improvement in one of 12 areas, including innovation, social inclusion, citizenship, health, art, culture or education. The platform community will then vote for the best idea in each category, which will be implemented from March 2014, alongside a second project in the ‘innovation’ category chosen by cosmetics company Natura.

Post Fumaça Preta
Citizen-created app allows users to denounce polluting vehicles


Launched in July 2013, Post Fumaça Preta is a free app that lets Brazilian residents report heavy polluting vehicles to their local city department. After taking a picture of the offending vehicle and entering its license plate, citizens use the app to log their complaint on a map.

Antofagasta: Malon Urbano
Event brings Chilean residents together to discuss urban issues


April 2013 saw the Chilean city of Antofagasta launch Malon Urbano, a civic event designed to celebrate community and improve urban life. Participants were asked to contribute to the project by bringing a dish or something else to help make the event a success. The 200 guests discussed ideas for tackling the city’s problems, with suggestions helping to inform the local government’s development plans.

MVS Television: ‘Los Supercivicos’
TV comedy confronts bad urban practices in Mexico City


Launched in April 2013, ‘Houston Tenemos un Programa’ is a TV series based in Mexico City from MVS Television. The show stars ‘Los Supercivicos’ ('The Supercivics'), three characters who travel the city to denounce infrastructure problems and confront citizens about negative urban habits. Using comedy to challenge wrongdoers, the trio tackles issues such as cars using bike lanes, trucks blocking pedestrian pathways, and dog owners who fail to clean up after their pets. The public can report offenders to the show via social networks.

Imagina na Copa: Coque (R)Existe
Media education empowers Recife residents to fight exploitation


In August 2013 community leaders and activists from Coque, a poor neighborhood in the Brazilian city of Recife, started a collective to teach media and critical analysis skills to local residents. Named Coque (R)Existe, the objective was to empower Coque’s citizens and give them a voice against exploitation from local property developers. The project emerged from Imagina na Copa, a civic crowdfunding initiative launched in the build up to the World Cup (sponsored by brands such as Red Bull and Gol Airlines).

100 en 1 día: Santiago
100+ citizen initiatives enacted in 1 day to enhance life in Chilean capital


Following the lead of Colombia and Costa Rica, October 2013 saw Santiago become the third capital in Latin America to host the urban citizen movement event 100 en 1 día. Originally co-created by Danish collective KaosPilots, the initiative invites citizens to propose ideas to enhance public spaces, and aims for (at least) 100 urban interventions to take place during the appointed day. In Santiago, 121 submissions were selected and brought to life, with activities as diverse as love letter readings, free raw food cooking classes and collaborative trash can construction.


Why consumers will welcome facing reality. However ugly.

In 2014, increasingly sophisticated consumers will seek new kinds of relationships with brands. One result? They’ll look for brands to move beyond gentle, soft (read: avoidable and weak) campaigns and launch unexpected, jarring, risky initiatives that grab their attention and (better yet) demand action.

Yes, many consumers in the region will remain self-absorbed and unmoved by brands, however radical. But many others are ready and willing to be moved by daring brands that stop pandering to them, and stop avoiding key social issues.

As transparency makes consumers ever more aware of those social issues, and rising consumer maturity makes traditional brand communications increasingly uninteresting, for bold brands this trend will be one to run with to great effect in 2014.

Teto: Invisigram
Celebrities donate Instagram accounts to highlight poverty in Brazil


In August 2013, Latin American NGO Teto launched an Instagram campaign aimed at giving visibility to impoverished communities in Brazil. Named ‘Invisigram’, the initiative asked celebrities to lend their Instagram accounts to a resident from a disadvantaged area so that they could post images of their housing and infrastructure conditions.

Supermarket shoppers confront food poverty in Peru


In May 2013, humanitarian organization DOMUND Peru launched a campaign to raise awareness of food poverty with supermarket shoppers in Lima. All products on a particular shelf were glued down, making it impossible for customers to take them. After attempting to pick an item up, a message opened in front of the shoppers explaining how many impoverished Peruvians experienced that feeling every day.

82% of consumers in Latin America believe that companies should be involved in improving people’s well-being and quality of life, yet only 46% think brands work hard to do so.
(Havas, July 2013)

BRMalls & Social Solidarity Fund
‘The Empty Shop’


In April 2013, BRMalls, in partnership with the Social Solidarity Fund of the State of São Paulo, opened The Empty Shop in the Villa Lobos mall in São Paulo. The pop-up store was laid out like a normal store – with mannequins, cabinets and shelves – yet it was empty. It filled up as visitors’ donations of clothing were received throughout the day. At the end of each day, donations were removed and given away so the store could reopen with clear shelves the following morning.  


Why in 2014, brands should protect and serve.

Brands looking for a focus for their technology innovation in 2014 should start by targeting threats to personal safety – in whatever form. Safety remains a core concern for many consumers: 70% in South & Central America agreed that the world is ‘increasingly hostile and uncertain’, versus 66% globally; including 83% in Argentina and 74% in Mexico (Futures Company, November 2012).

And while some of these threats are physical, the spectrum of risk will continue to broaden in 2014. One sign of the post-Snowden times: the proportion of Brazilians from the city of São Paulo who aren’t confident in the security of their personal data jumped from 49% to 72% between 2012 and 2013 (Fecomercio, August 2013).

And of course PROTECTIVE TECH solutions are symptomatic of a broader trend, too: that of consumers embracing digital and mobile technologies to help address troubling social issues (also see CIVICSUMERS).

So check out the examples below, and ask yourself: where do consumer interactions with your brand overlap with issues of personal safety, security, and risk? And how can you apply technology in novel ways to make consumers safer?

Alerta Hogar Mujer
App against domestic violence


In September 2013, the Chilean government launched Alerta Hogar Mujer, an app for women who are threatened with domestic violence. Users can press a button to send an SMS alert to four contacts who are privately registered with the Crime Prevention Department. The recipients of the alert can then contact the police via SMS.

52% of Bolivian women and 38% of Peruvian and Colombian women reported physical violence by a partner.
(Pan American Health Association, March 2013)

Assegurar Te Consultoria
'Panic Button' helps protect Argentinean women at risk of domestic violence

In July 2013, Argentina-based Assegurar Te Consultoria launched the Boton de Panico ('Panic Button') app for emergency use. The simply designed app offers two buttons: one for health emergencies, and another for when an individual feels they’re in danger. When triggered, it sends the user’s location to their registered contacts. The app is used by the Santa Fe Municipality to help victims of domestic abuse.

Mexico Police Department: PF Móvil
App connects Mexicans directly with local road safety authorities

PF Movil

In June 2013, the Mexican Police launched PF Móvil to improve communication between citizens and the road police. Through the free app, users anonymously call an emergency number (it works faster than a phone call) or text for help – they automatically connect to the station responsible for their current location. The police then provide directions to mechanical or medical help.

La Polar
Pay with your fingerprint

la polar

In August 2013, Chilean department store La Polar installed biometric readings to improve security on transactions. Registered users place their finger on a fingerprint scanner to complete card payments instead of signing their name. Along with reducing fraud, the store claims the method is 35% faster than traditional card transactions.

Banco do Brasil
Piloting biometric ATMs

Banco do Brasil

In October 2013, Banco do Brasil piloted advanced ATM terminals. The ATMs recognize clients via a combination of facial, iris and vocal scanners before allowing operation (the bank already employs palm scanners in some branches). The machines can be controlled with vocal commands, though sensitive information is entered by touchpad. The ATMs will open to the wider public in Q1 2014.


2014: year of the time savior.

One result of the maturing South & Central American consumer arenas? In 2014, convenience will be front and center as busy urban consumers increasingly expect LIFE: ON DEMAND. Think products and services in hyper-convenient formats, instantly accessible, easy-to-navigate channels, and most of all a relentless sense of control and achievement.

The bigger shifts driving this trend are well established: rising incomes and longer working hours (for both men and women) among the professional urban middle classes, and an abundance of choice. Together, they mean an endless array of enticing potential alternatives for many consumers.

The key challenge in 2014? Working to ensure that the expectations consumers have cultivated online – for accessibility, flexibility and convenience – are met in every experience: even those that take place in the physical world. From time-saving apps that put consumers in control to business model innovations (from rentals to drive-through formats), make sure you don’t waste a single second of consumers’ time.

No time to lose! ;)

App waits for users on customer service calls


In March 2013, a free app that lets consumers skip the waiting time when contacting call centers, launched in Mexico. Skipo works with 35 major companies, such as DHL, General Electric and Expedia. Users select the business and department they need to speak to and the app dials the company, leaving them free to do other things. Skipo then calls back the customer when an operator is available.

Reserve shopping mall parking space in advance


Launched in São Paulo’s Multipark Guarulhos in July 2013, Reservagas is an online service that allows consumers to book parking spaces in advance. To reserve a spot, drivers select the date and time they require a space and the platform checks availability.

Gym kit rental service in Mexico


Launched in March 2013, Tidy is a Mexico-based rental service for gym apparel. Subscribers select the New Balance sportswear they wish to wear via an app and pick it up pre-workout in a Tidy bag at their gym. After exercising, the customer drops their bag off at reception, for items to be washed and ready for use the next day. The service is available at Sports World Patriotismo for MXN 299 (USD 25) per month.

Drop off dirty clothes in a locker

lime locker

Launched in September 2013, Limelocker is a locker-based laundry service from Brazil. Consumers deposit dirty laundry at their local lockers, which can be found via an app. They then scan the QR code on the locker to let the company know items are waiting for collection and to pay. Limelocker picks up the clothes and cleans them within 48 hours - customers are notified once their load is ready.

Pão To Go
Brazilian bakery opens drive-through stores

pao to go

In July 2013 the drive-through bakery Pão To Go launched in São Carlos, Brazil. Along with a selection of breads, the outlet features over 30 other items, including fresh groceries, milk and cigarettes. The business plans to expand its concept with more locations across the country.

The number of convenience stores in Mexico increased 56% in the five years to 2012, to 12,720 units.
(Euromonitor, May 2013)


Trend watching is all about applying. If you don’t use consumer trends to inspire new, profitable innovations, they’re just ‘nice to know’.

So run with them, combine them, take them in new directions.

If you don’t know where to start, check out our CONSUMER TREND CANVAS section, which contains tips on how to unpack and apply trends step by step.

Ideally, you'll end up driving the evolution of an South & Central American trend, too.



Last but not least, if you’re really serious about staying on top of all the latest consumer trends and related innovations, check out our globally relevant, instantly available, online Premium Service. At a ridiculously affordable all-inclusive price, it’s guaranteed to give you an unfair competitive advantage. Today ;)

Dozens of South & Central American brands and agencies already have access.

No budget to spend? Then do make sure you’re subscribed to receive the upcoming editions of this South & Central America Trend Bulletin, and/or our big Monthly Trend Briefing: many more to come in 2014 and beyond!

Happy tracking, evaluating, initiating and innovating! trendwatching.com logo


Want More?

1.Our free South & Central America Bulletins

2.Our 2015 Premium Service

From our 2014 Premium Service, to speaking engagements, to Apply Workshops:

More in South & Central America More around the world

Go to the South & Central America Homepage »

Go to the Global Homepage »