Success Knows No Boundaries5 Feb, 2010 By: Nicole Urso Reed Response
A rising star turns heads in the U.S. Hispanic market, while Latin America continues to embrace American DRTV products.
Selling DR South of the Border
Marketers that extend their DR business beyond the U.S. border and into Latin America can also benefit from employing a mass-marketing approach.
Sylvia Morales, vice president of Santa Monica, Calif.-based Williams Worldwide Television, looks for universal appeal before helping her clients distribute products into Latin America.
“This is an important factor to consider,” says Morales. “And what variables may affect that universal appeal. For example, is the product a seasonal one? This becomes important when you consider Latin America spans both the southern and northern hemisphere. When using pan-regional media, little things like this matter.”
Toning down cultural nuance to an appropriate degree is also important when coordinating a regional media buy.
“We have a product whose original show was largely appropriate for the U.S. market and although dubbed into Spanish for the U.S. Hispanic market, it featured a heavy national accent and culturally specific recipe book,” says Morales. “We needed broader appeal for the full Latin American market. As such, we re-dubbed in a more neutral accent and used wording sensitive to the regional dialectic differences. The diet guide was similarly adjusted to ensure that recipes fit regional cooking styles and were not country specific.”
The proliferation of new media and online usage also expedites the awareness and popularity of DR products in Latin American countries.
“New media is not only an important factor in building a DR campaign in the U.S., but in all Latin American countries,” says Agurcia. “This segment, just as the general U.S. population, has become accustomed to using the Internet not only to research products but also purchase directly online.”
Viral marketing is free and effective, but the inherent threat of knockoff products is an ongoing challenge for U.S. distributors.
“We work in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America,” says Morales. “This is a challenge in all markets, but especially in the Latin America region where price sensitivity is highest. Internet vendors who buy direct from competing factories in China can very quickly drop sales or kill a successful product.”
Protecting Your Investment
Identifying sales potential and moving quickly into Latin American markets is critical for success, but without the protective home field regulations, marketers must come prepared and should partner with a DR agency that is familiar with the territory.
“We believe that marketers with original product will be best served by partnering with local DR marketers for distribution,” says Agurcia. “It reduces the chances of having your product copied and distributed. Also, beyond the normal methods to increase your legal protection, a product should be released internationally as simultaneously as possible as the home country launch.”
Some products, especially small plastic ones, are prone to replication simply because they are easy for factories to understand and reproduce. Rules and regulations vary from country to country, but marketers should always patent their products and have trademark protection.
“One of the most important things is that the product also says what it’s going to do,” says Behar. “We’ve been lucky because Tablemate is actually a very well-made product and it looks deceivingly simple. So the counterfeit needs to support — and our claim is that it never bends or buckles or breaks; it holds up to 50 lbs. — a knockoff could not hold that weight. It will bend and buckle because it’s cheaply made. We’ve sustained, through the knockoffs, the ability to succeed.”
There’s also the challenge of navigating through marketing regulations that vary from country to country. Even though television programs are often fed out from one source to multiple Latin American countries, a DRTV campaign must comply with marketing regulations specific to each country.
“In some cases, a product has to be compliant in all countries at the same time before a campaign can begin — not an easy task when each country has regulations unique to them,” says Morales. “It forces you to become an expert in what is needed from a regulations point of view, as well as have a better eye for what can sell with more chance of success knowing the challenges a dietary, exercise or electrical item may incur. With Latin America, using a master distributor aware of these challenges can make the difference between an efficient and quick rollout and a drawn out market-by-market rollout.”
Determining the right pricing is also very important before marketing products in Latin America. Morales considers the cost of the product itself, in addition to other fees such as freight, duties and tariffs.
“And, of course, quality,” she adds. “This is a very discerning market. Bad quality cannot only kill a campaign but also the trust and image of DRTV as a whole. We have been fortunate to work with DRTV distributors in the region who have all worked hard to contribute to a positive image of our industry. Poor quality negatively affects us all.”