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Mexico Looks Good to American Publishers

NEW YORK — US publishers are boosting the volume of mail sent to Mexico in the wake of Vincente Fox's election as president, according to Publisher's Multinational Direct, a newsletter specializing in global DM campaigns.

John Christman, director of Maquiladora Services at Ciemex-Wefa, told PDM that he “has seen more direct mail in Mexico from magazines, business newsletters, and conferences, particularly from economic conferences.”

He also predicted a strong economy under the new president, who earned his business spurs as head of Coke in Mexico. GDP, Christman said, would be close to 6 percent this year, compared with 4.7 percent in 1999.

Cornelio Bos, who owns Direcciones, an executive database, said business and consumer confidence has been coming back gradually since 1999, with both local and international marketers launching test campaigns. He is looking for a DM surge in 2001.

Mailers bear out the optimism. The International Airline Passengers Association reported that recent mailings have produced “excellent results.” Business Week said its Latin American mailings have been consistently good over the past two years.

Mexico has been the best market for Time in Latin America for campaigns that the publication ran in October 1999 and in March and May this year. Newsweek plans to restart mailing to Mexico “buoyed by evidence of renewed consumer confidence,” PMD said.

But publisher Al Goodloe warned readers about Mexico's long tradition of financial and economic crises whenever a new president takes over. The peso collapsed when Ernest Zedillo took office in December 1994.

But mailing to Latin America remains dicey and seems to depend on the product involved. Brazil may be booming, but it has proved lackluster for many — although not for all — publishers, Goodloe said.

Thus Newsweek has done well marketing through its agency network, while Business Week has found the market volatile and sales hurt by fluctuating exchange rates.

Time still thinks Brazil is a great market despite what PDM calls “less-than-satisfactory results from recent campaigns.” The reason is Brazil's fabulous potential, a variation of the old saw that Brazil is the country of the future — and always will be.

PMD gave the following assessments on other Latin American countries:

Argentina is in a major recession. Pegging the Argentine peso to the US dollar has hurt exports, which are now considered overpriced.

The Caribbean countries work well for just about everybody, but the markets are small.

The best Central American countries are Costa Rica and Panama.

Chile's economy is stable and should be more responsive. However, prospects are extremely selective in their reading habits, preferring publications in their specialized fields.

The Andean countries of Venezuela, Peru, Colombia and Bolivia are undergoing severe economic and political problems. They will remain very difficult for the foreseeable future.

Finally, PMD warned mailers to pay attention to seasonal variations and volatility.

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