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LatAm Colombia The Secrets of Local Brand Value

Critical to the success of any brand is the ability to empower people by making a difference in their lives; a difference that stems not only from how meaningful they are for their customers, but also from how these customers spread the name of the brand to other people. Successful brands, like the ones in the BrandZ Colombia valuation rankings, are characterized by meeting their customers’ needs and being more appealing than their competitors. They are also characterized by being different, and come quickly to the customer’s mind when they think about what they need from a product or service.

The most successful brands in Colombia are found across different industries including oil, mining, alcoholic beverages, financial services, grocery stores, and communication providers. Their contribution to the unprecedented economic growth of Colombia accounted for 23% of total GDP in 2013. These brands shape the local economy by offering goods or services that consider culture, traditions, and social, physical, and economic characteristics unique to Colombians, in contrast to their European and American counterparts.

Advertising spending in Colombia totals 8 billion Colombian pesos. The industries that invested the most in advertising during the timespan of this report were retail and tourism, personal care and beauty, food and confectionery, telecommunications, beverages and tobacco, and financial services, totaling 57.5% of total advertising expenditure. This comes as no surprise since these industries are the same ones that fall in the top ten of this year’s BrandZ ranking.

Consumers are increasingly mobile

Considering that Colombia has one of the highest internet penetration rates in Latin America, it comes as no surprise that consumers are using their internet-enabled cell phones when shopping. During the third quarter of 2013, internet penetration reached 9.51 million subscribers, while mobile communications reached 50.25 million, surpassing the country’s population. In the coming years, according to FENALCO, Colombians will be more aware of the impact of their purchase choices, with the potential impact of this being seen in ecological, health, satisfaction, and loyalty aspects.

TIGO, a cellphone provider, is penetrating the Colombian market by reaching new segments including small businesses, as well as increasing its investment levels. They aim to become the second largest operator in Colombia. TIGO stand out in the local market for giving their customers the opportunity to have pre-paid cell phones, to access the web when needed, and by offering flexible plan options. This makes TIGO a brand that is very different from its competitors, since the variety of options for customers has a broader appeal to a younger segment of users looking for flexibility from a cell phone provider

Shared characteristics of leading brands

The most valuable brands in Colombia are characterized by being financially strong, delivering good customer service, and prompting positive feelings among Colombians. For example, given the quality of their practices and the transparency of its management, Ecopetrol is recognized by BrandZ as one of Colombia’s most valuable brands. It is also the most preferred place to work for Colombians and a front-runner given its technological developments.

Bancolombia, the largest bank in Colombia, has remarkable brand equity indicators, mainly because of its fundamental pillars: to be available in every Colombian region, which provides a higher Meaningful* level, a communication platform that emphasizes Colombian cultural assets, and a patriotic message that works well within the consumer banking category.

A few months ago, Bancolombia was highlighted as the most trusted local bank, a brand with a portfolio of high integral value, and efficient management of their resources.

Aguila is the beer of choice for Colombians and stirs emotions connected with Colombian icons such as the national soccer team. It is a brand with a historically consistent communication platform, similar to Bancolombia’s, tapping into Colombian patriotism with messages about the greatness and importance of the Colombian people’s cultural roots and their ability to smile despite the difficulties.

* Meaningful: patriotism and its positive emotions

Gabriel Castellanos y Oscar Ladino

Millward Brown, Colombia