ULG's Language Services Blog

Global Marketing Guides: Mexico




With a population of over 130 million and an expansive group of young, working-age citizens, Mexico is quickly becoming a point of interest for global marketers. Despite significant perks, marketers should note a few unique challenges.

As your organization begins to craft a marketing plan for Mexico, set yourself up for success by considering the following.


Though Mexico’s $12 billion market has recently experienced double-digit growth, companies continue to be at the mercy of quirky buyer behavior. The issue does not seem to be what consumers are buying, but how they are buying it.

For example, six out of ten Mexicans do not have ATM or debit cards. An estimated 90% of transactions in Mexico are carried out in cash. 56% of the adult population don’t have a formal bank account, and only 83% of the banked population has a credit card. Around half of the nation's residents live in poverty, and according to the latest estimates, more than half the population works in the informal economy.

While the 24 million residents in Mexico’s top two income brackets represent a significant new market, much of Mexico’s population remains offline. Therefore, marketers need to think strategically and creatively about meeting the unique needs of Mexican consumers to effectively enter this robust market.


A crucial element of global marketing is accurate translation. The following is just one of many considerations to make when translating into Spanish.

Mexicans are extremely polite. It appears politeness is built into the language and social graces of the culture. The majority of Spanish speaking Mexicans use the formal version of the word “you” (“usted”) when communicating with elders or those they do not know. In contrast, with friends and close associates or in casual situations, the informal (“tú”) is more common.

It is important to remember this societal norm when translating or creating marketing material. The “tú” vs. “usted” decision will determine many elements of your brand and voice: from the content of the direct marketing pieces to the visuals on advertisements.

As a marketer, there are two questions you should ask when deciding between “tú” and “usted”.

     1. Who is our audience?

When targeting a younger audience, use the informal approach (“tú”). For older audiences, or audiences with higher income and educational levels, opt for “usted”.

     2. What is the voice of our brand?

If considering your audience proves to be slightly ambiguous, focus on the voice of your brand. What products, goods or services do you sell? It is common for more approachable, informal brands to use “tú” while upscale, serious brands use “usted”. Examples of serious brands include financial services, healthcare or luxury goods. Informal brands consist of fast food, candy or soda.



     1.  Consider the advantages, be mindful of the challenges

Companies around the world are capitalizing on Mexico’s sizable population, proximity to the United States, and increasing, young workforce. Marketers should not be easily deterred by the country’s unique challenges, but should instead be mindful when developing their marketing strategy.

     2. Get creative in overcoming buyer behavior barriers

One of Mexico’s unique market challenges is the use of cash. While companies like Amazon have taken notable strides to allow customers to use a variety of debit cards, other companies are attempting to target the wide segment of Mexico’s population that does not use the formal banking system.

Retailers like Wal-Mart offer cash on delivery, while InBev, a brewing company, gives customers the option of paying with a cash transfer from a local convenience store. Companies that have already entered the

Mexican market are getting creative in meeting the needs of its consumers. Marketers should follow suit.

     3. Be thoughtful when translating

It is important to remember Mexico’s bend toward polite communication when creating or translating marketing material. The “tú” vs. “usted” decision will drive many elements of communication. Ask “who is our audience?” and “what is the voice of our brand” for guidance.

Be creative, find the right resources, and you’ll be sure to experience success in this exciting, and still growing market. Buena suerte—good luck!