Economic Growth Drives Brand Awareness
Marketers reach consumers with social media
Colombian consumers are rapidly becoming more engaged with brands.
The change reflects the country's new economic reality. Consumption in Colombia increased 12.8 percent during 2011, and GDP grew 6.1 percent, according to Colombia's National Federation of Traders (FENALCO). The country's overall economic development, including increased foreign investment and consumer access to credit, continues to stimulate strong growth.
As consumers encounter brands more often at many multi-channel touch points, Colombia is shifting from a country where consumers simply purchase products to a market where consumers identify with brands.
This heightened awareness of brands has created a more demanding shopper and a more complex marketplace with brands competing to best understand shoppers and most effectively meet their needs and wants.
Time spent on social media grows
An important cultural shift—increased technical literacy—informs this greater involvement with brands. As PC use and Internet access expands rapidly, the exposure to information and knowledge produces profound societal change.
In the last 15 years, Colombia transformed from a closed country to a partner in free trade agreements with some of the world's largest markets. Internet and cable TV superseded television as the preferred electronic medium, providing Colombians with wider exposure to products and services—and brands.
More than 96 percent of Colombia's online population uses social networks sites, according to ComScore. The use of social networks to communicate with consumers is experiencing double-digit growth, according to the Colombia's Interactive Advertising Bureau.
Also, among all countries in the world, Colombia ranks seventh in numbers of hours spent on Facebook, averaging 8.4 hours per month, surpassing even Mexico and Brazil, according to the 2011 Firefly Millward Brown global study of social media. This penetration reflects how social media connects with a national culture that values entertainment, social connections and a sense of belonging.
Great opportunity awaits brand marketers
These findings have driven increased interest by brands to better understand how to develop the appropriate digital strategies to maximize ROI. Brand marketers have a great opportunity to reach Colombian consumers on social media for two reasons.
First, Colombian consumers are actively engaged in social media. The country has one of the highest Internet penetration rates in the region. Second, the country has one of the lowest investment rates in digital media. In 2011, only 0.9 percent of the communication investment was in digital compared with 7 percent in Mexico and 6 percent in Brazil, according to GroupM research.
There probably are several reasons for this disconnection between the high level of consumer digital engagement and the low level of investment. The most likely explanation is that Colombia's image, as a country gripped by violence, has not caught up with Colombia's new reality as a fast growing economy.
The conclusion for brand marketers should be clear: In Colombia, there's a large group of potential customers online who are interested in brands and there's relatively little clutter preventing you from reaching them.