With citizens across the region facing one crisis after another, it's time for brands to roll up their sleeves and help!


There's no denying it...

…times are tough across Central and South America. Economic, political and social challenges are taking their toll. In Brazil, for example, think tank Fundação Getúlio Vargas say that the economic crisis saw consumer confidence fall to an all time low at the end of 2015.


But tough times mean a chance for brands to STEP UP!

Consumers may be facing tough times, but that doesn’t mean they’ll have lower expectations. In fact, their expectations will only cycle HIGHER as they look for brands that really care about making their lives better.

There are two kinds of brands...

Those that care. And those that don't.

The Zika virus detected in 20 Latin American countries. Economic collapse in Venezuela. A presidential scandal in Brazil. Spiraling inflation in Argentina. In 2016, swathes of South and Central America, at a local, regional or national level, are experiencing one crisis after another. And all too often, the efforts of governments and nonprofits are falling short.

For citizens, the consequences are vast and difficult. But among them is this: a crisis environment highlights how all brands fall into one of two categories. Brands that truly care about the people they serve and the markets they operate in, and those that just say they do. No prizes for guessing which type of brands consumers in South and Central America are going to embrace in the months and years ahead.

So which kind of brand are you?

And once you’ve decided to help, how can you serve up innovations that your customers will really thank you for?

Keep reading… ;)

Game-changing innovations create new expectations.

That's why we're about to look at 10 of them ;)

Citizens across South and Central America are looking to brands to step up and help. But how? What innovations will they really embrace in 2016 and beyond?

Here’s the (not so secret) secret at the heart of trend-driven innovation: to know what consumers will want next, stop watching customers and start watching innovations. Why? Because game-changing innovations reshape customers’ expectations. And new customer expectations spread: across markets, industries, demographics and more. Eventually, they’ll spread all the way to your door!

So in this Briefing, we’ve collected ten innovations that are changing expectations around the way brands should step up and help. These innovations are setting the expectations of YOUR customers. But once you see those expectations coming, you can innovate to meet them!


See how the following innovations are tackling inequality, natural disasters, inflation, and more. And then ask: how can YOU do the same?



Telecom company supplies low-income 'red zones' with internet access

In RECONCILIATION BRANDS, we explored how South and Central America-based brands could help to heal social wounds and mend inequality (from income distribution to internet access).

Alcom provides internet access to underserved areas in Chile via local stores. 40% of the Chilean population lacks internet access, in part due to ‘red zones’ (poor areas where telecom brands see little profit in offering their service). Alcom installs wireless antennas in neighborhood grocery stores, then residents can purchase routers and connect to the store. In February 2016, Alcom asked red zone residents to call attention to their neighborhoods on social media.

How can you bridge the gap between the affluent and the underprivileged, and earn the respect of consumers from all income-brackets?


Ben & Jerry's

Ice cream brand encourages tolerance for opposing opinions

Sometimes, being a RECONCILIATION BRAND means bringing together people whose opinions diverge…

Ben & Jerry’s invited people together to debate political issues in a São Paolo store in April 2016. The US-based ice cream brand brought pairs of people who love one another face-to-face to discuss a wide range of contentious issues they could not agree on, over an ice cream. The campaign also featured on social media using the hashtag #‎amoréprogresso (‘love is progress’).

During times of crisis, communication matters more than ever!


Colombian Education Ministry

Bullets repurposed into pens to promote education over conflict

Conflict in society is unavoidable, but how brands react to conflict is something that can truly resonate with consumers.

In January 2016, the Colombian Education Ministry launched a campaign that upycled ammunition into pens to celebrate the impending peace treaty with the FARC rebel group. Bullets were collected from the armed conflict and pens were created to reinforce the importance of education across the nation. Around 500 bullets-turned-pens were given to historians, journalists and public officials.

How can you harness the power of symbolism to mend social wounds?


Bate Panela

Ecommerce site redirects visitors to donation sites instead of checkout page

Waaay back in 2009, we published GENERATION G, focusing on the global shift from greed to generosity. Since then, the expectation that brands empower consumers to do good has only cycled higher.

In March 2016, two entrepreneurs launched an ecommerce site in Brazil called Bate Panela. The site appears to sell merchandise for political protestors, but when a visitor tries to purchase a product, the website states that ‘protesting alone will not cause change’, and prompts the user to make a donation to one of four social cause nonprofits. Citizens are encouraged to donate what they would have spent on the products.

Can your brand inspire generosity? Both the world and your consumers stand to benefit!



Luxury car dealership provides free vaccinations

In December 2014, we published IN-HAND BRANDS, a trend about South and Central American companies that appear at the right time and place.

During April 2016, a BMW dealership near São Paulo vaccinated over 1,500 people against the H1N1 virus. The dealership hired staff from a private clinic to distribute the free shot to protect citizens against swine flu and stop the spread of the disease. Announced via Facebook and through newspaper advertisements, the initiative was initially available for BMW clients but, after overwhelming demand, was open to anyone. During Q1 2016, it had become increasingly difficult to find the H1N1 vaccine in health institutions and private clinics across the city

How can you put a much-needed solution into the hands consumers as and when it’s needed?



Brand responds to earthquake by repurposing billboards into shelter materials

In times of crisis or difficulty, consumers value brands that provide support – explored in SOS DESIGNED (available for TrendWatching’s Premium clients) – whether through products, services or something else!

Following a 7.8-magnitude earthquake that killed over 500 people in Ecuador in April 2016, Coca-Cola disassembled their billboards and repurposed the advertising material into tarps for shelters. The brand announced the initiative on Twitter and suspended all advertising activity in the region to focus their money on humanitarian aid.


The Mosquito Killer Billboard

Billboard designed to attract and kill mosquitos

This innovation sets a new standard for useful marketing. Your response?

April 2016 saw agencies Posterscope and NBS install two ‘Mosquito Killer’ billboards in Rio de Janeiro. The special billboards, which emit a solution that mimics human sweat and breath to attract mosquitos from up to 2.5 miles away, were placed in areas where Zika and Dengue fever outbreaks were reported. According to the agencies, the billboards can kills hundreds of zika mosquitos each day. The blueprints for the display are available for free online for others to utilize.


El Mapa del Asado

Collaborative app displays cost of meat throughout city

South and Central American consumers demand total honesty from brands (see TRANSPARENCY TRIUMPH). If brands don’t provide it, consumers will work together and reveal all.

In response to rising food prices across the country, a journalist in La Plata, Argentina created El Mapa del Asado in February 2016. The collaborative platform provides detailed pricing on the cost of meat at butchers across the city. Users add prices, names, and addresses of butchers to the database. The crowdsourced map has over 500 butchers listed.

Don’t wait for consumers to uncover your secrets, open up!



Architecture firm releases digital blueprints for low-cost housing

As we described in BRANDED GOVERNMENT in 2014, social problems typically tackled by the public sector are increasingly the responsibility of private organizations.

Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena, and his firm Elemental, published four public housing designs online as open-source resources in April 2016. Aravena hopes the free CAD downloads will help developers and government agencies around the world to combat the affordable housing crisis.

South and Central American brands aren’t just solving issues within their own markets, but for low-income people at a global level.


The Entrepreneur Refugee Project

Integrating refugees into Brazilian business culture

We covered IMMIGREAT – innovative responses to the global refugee crisis – in 5 Latin Consumer Trends for 2016. There’s still plenty to be done by governments, NGOs and brands.

April 2016 saw Brazil’s National Committee for Refugees partner with Sebrae on The Entrepreneur Refugee Project: an initiative aimed at refugees who wish to open businesses. The project provides free online entrepreneurship courses to refugees who speak Portuguese, have lived in Brazil for one year and have a CPF (Taxpayer Registration Card). The most involved students can partake in in-person and on-site training.

Could your brand do something similar?


New customer expectations don't emerge out of the blue – it's all about evolution.

The Trend Framework

16 mega-trends that provide context and structure when tracking the evolution of consumerism.

So we’ve seen ten innovations from SCA that are reshaping expectations around how brands should step up and help.

But these new expectations don’t emerge out of the blue. Instead, they are evolve out of past expectations around brand ethics, sustainability, moving beyond the merely transactional, and more. And they’ll soon evolve again!

At TrendWatching, we view new customer expectations – and the trends they fuel – through the lens of a Bigger Picture. That is, our 16 mega-trends. These mega-trends are the big, slow-moving currents in the consumer arena and taken together they form the Trend Framework: our complete picture of consumerism today and where it’s heading.

Grab a glimpse of the Trend Framework below (clients of our Premium Service have full access).

Via the Trend Framework, we’ll keep tracking the new customer expectations we’ve seen in this Briefing – as we continue to receive relevant examples from TW:IN, our global spotting network.


Put these innovations in context...

Each of our mega-trends captures the evolution of an aspect of consumerism. Via YOUNIVERSE, for example, we track the evolution of expectations around personalization. In INFOLUST we look at the on-going consumer quest for increasingly perfect information.

Looking at each innovation in this Briefing – and every innovation you ever spot! – through the lens of a relevant mega-trend means a much richer understanding of what that innovation means for customer expectations – and for you.



What can YOU do to help?

Pick a CRISIS and develop a SOLUTION!

Okay, it's not always that simple ;) But the power IS in your hands to help Latin Americans with better product design, greater transparency, generosity, thoughtful marketing and more. What are you waiting for? Go help!


Want to take it to the next level?

At our upcoming 2016 Trend Events in Singapore, Sydney, Chicago, London and Amsterdam you'll hear about THE trends that will shape consumerism in 2017 and beyond. And hear from innovators in the field already putting those trends into action!


New expectations can come from anywhere!

Today, customer expectations cross geographical borders faster than ever. So why not broaden your (G)LOCAL trend sources and subscribe to our free Global, Asia and Africa Trend Briefings?



Gather your team and start brainstorming on how YOU can start solving real problems. Our free CONSUMER TREND CANVAS ideation tool is a great place to start!