The 2012 Top 50 Most Valuable Latam brands total $135.7 billion in value, each are leaders in their country markets, often serve multiple local country markets, and some operate globally. Latam's largest markets, Brazil and Mexico, produce the greatest number of high-value brands, but smaller economies also are well represented.
Throughout Latin America, brands are rising in value and importance. High-value brands are present across most categories. Some are government owned or controlled, as often is the case in fast growing markets. Many result from entrepreneurial vision, risk and energy.
Half of the Top 50 are either retailers or financial institutions, reflecting the central role of those categories in Latin American societies. These two categories, along with the communication provider category, account for one-third of brands in the top 50.
Although appreciating in value, the Latam brands are not yet valuable enough to appear in the BrandZ™ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands ranking – with two exceptions: the Brazilian oil and gas company Petrobas ranks 75 in 2012 Top 100 and Telcel, Mexico's telcom, ranks 97. Several Latam brands appear among the BrandZ™ global leaders in their respective categories, however. Three of the Top 10 brands in the beer category are Latin American: Corona of Mexico, and the Brazilian brands Skol and Brahma. Skol and Brahma are owned by AB-InBev, the world's largest brewer, demonstrating the engagement of multinationals in Latam.
Insights for Building Valuable Brands in Latin America
1. Opportunities - Scale
Latin America is a big opportunity. The region, including the Caribbean, is home to almost 600 million people living in more than 30 countries that together produce a GDP of around $5 trillion, which would rank the area fourth worldwide, after Japan, in national output.
2. Opportunities - Diversity
Latin America is many opportunities— and challenges. It extends from the southern edge of the US to the northern edge of Antarctica. The area experienced a complex history and brand marketers need to be aware not just of national differences but also of regional differences within nations.
3. Opportunities - Markets
Brazil, the "B" in BRIC, accounts for more than one-third of the value of BrandZ™ Top 50 Most Valuable Latin American Brands. And while Brazil is the region's largest market, it's not the only one. Chile, a relatively small nation of only 17 million people, accounts for one-fifth of the Top 50 brand value.
4. Consumers - Middle Class
The market potential in Latin America is not static. The middle class is expanding throughout the region, although at somewhat different rates. The number of people now officially considered middle class improved by over 25 percent since 2006.
5. Consumers - Confidence
Not surprisingly, wealthier people feel more confident about the future—but not by much. Among the middle class, 77 percent feel optimistic. That figure increases a few points to 79 percent for the wealthy and drops for the lower income groups, but only to 67 percent.
6. Consumers - Price
It remains important, which isn't surprising considering that much of the population has contended with poverty and even the wealthy worry about radical fluctuations in inflation. As a long-term trend, however, more individuals report that their purchasing decisions aren't always driven by special offers.
7. Consumers - Credit
Credit is becoming more available as banks attempt to add new customers, opening in areas underserved until recently. Retailers continue to be key sources for credit, particularly in Chile.
8. Media - TV
The medium generally receives the highest level of investment, but it's been leveling. TV is expensive and digital is growing rapidly throughout Latin America because of consumer interest and in some cases, like Argentina, government encouragement.
9. Media - Digital
Internet investment is still relatively low but growing sharply. PCs and laptops still dominate for accessing the Internet. That's because of some spotty 3G coverage and the high cost of data plans.
10. Media - Mobile
Mobile Internet access is increasing. It's highest in Mexico where 19 percent of the online users saying they've accessed the Internet via mobile in the past four weeks.
11. Media - Social
Latin Americans are social. And social media is a good place for brands to find potential customers. Brazilians have an average of 481 friends. In Colombia, Internet users spend about eight hours weekly on social networks, compared with a global average of 4.8 hours.
12. Brands - Choice
Consumers generally like choice but it varies in Latin America. Argentine economic policy and other factors have produced relatively limited brand choice, while proximity to the US exposes Mexicans to wide brand possibilities. And Chilean consumers can choose the most luxurious European status cars or the least expensive Indian or Chinese imports.
13. Brands - Brand Presence
Latin Americans generally think famous brands are better. That's true of half the population in Colombia, and also in Brazil and Argentina where people are most brand conscious.
14. Brands - Brand Contribution
Retail and beer receive the highest scores for Brand Contribution, which measures the impact of brand alone on future earnings. Beers often receive high marks, retail brands not as often. The result reflects a close bond between customers and retail brands that have played a role in providing credit to people denied bank credit until recently.
15. Brands - Loyalty
Latin Americans overall say that when they find a brand they like, they stick with it. Mexico measures somewhat lower in loyalty, which may be because in Mexico brand choice is somewhat wider.
16. Brands - Growth Categories
Luxury brands are discovering Colombia. In Mexico, the growing middle class is tiring of the multi-tasking life and looking for products that save time and enhance personal health. The most represented brands in the BrandZ™ Latin America Top 50 are retail and financial institutions, which comprise about half of the ranking.
17. Brands - Social Responsibility
All nations are works in progress. But that notion applies most acutely to Latin America. Although more people are entering the middle class, a wide gap remains in income and education levels. Building a brand in Latin America is about investing in the future of a region.