Introduction to the Mexican market and business culture

Here you will get a brief introduction to the Mexican market and to Mexican business culture

Mexico is the biggest spanish speaking country in the world, and has together with Brazil, a leading position in Latin America. Politically, Mexico has experienced a continuous development over the past years, the democracy is consolidating and the country has emerged to a more open and pluralistic society.  Low manufacturing costs, strong macro-economic indicators and a surge in consumption demand characterize the Mexican market today. Mexico has a free trade agreements with more than 40 countries.


Business culture

When in Mexico – do as the Mexicans do. A successful business in Mexico is also about adapting to the Mexican culture.
The Mexican way to do business might appear quite different from the Norwegian. Personal relationships are key to business success and the only way to know a person in Mexico is to know the family. Mexicans first and foremost do business with people they can relate to and not just with impersonal organisations. Allow time to develop your business relations. Trust is very important and it will take time to establish trust.

Mexicans often mix business with leisure and will often invite business associates and their families to their home during the weekend. These types of activities are important to Mexicans and help to build the trust required for long-term business relations.

Keep in mind the Mexican saying "North Americans live to work, but Mexicans work to live!" Respect their sense of time and traditions. Become sensitive to the pace and tone used in Mexico.

First meetings:
Never expect to begin negotiations at the first or second meeting. If you are invited to lunch by a business associate, unless otherwise indicated by your counterpart, do not start talking business until the last 5 minutes. In general, serious business discussions can be dealt with during a lunch, but rarely over dinner.
Business meetings:

Due to their reputation - Mexicans business people usually arrive on time for meetings.

Start by offering you business card and take time to time to look at your meeting partner’s name and title. Titles are important. You may directly speak to someone by only using his or her title only, without including the last name.

Norwegians like to go straight to the point, while meetings in Mexico will often begin with some small talk. Mexicans appreciate you taking an interest in their country and they love to know where you have been in Mexico. Mexican culture, history, art, and museums are good conversation topics. You better not discuss the Mexican-American war, poverty, illegal immigrants, or earthquakes.

Mexicans are often well informed and well prepared. Meet their standards.

Business lunches, rather than dinners are the traditional form of business entertaining and are usually time-consuming affairs, beginning between 2:00 and 3:00 p.m. and lasting three to four hours, with little time being devoted to actual business. Lunches are an essential part of business to establish a personal relationship. Working breakfasts are also popular, meeting at 8:00 or 8:30 at your hotel, and usually lasting two hours at the most.

Try to avoid arranging important meetings during Christmas vacations. And national holidays should also be avoided as these usually come with a long weekend. Normal business hours in Mexico are 0900-1800.

Asking the right questions:
Mexicans have a culture for only answering the direct answer to a question without elaborating.  While this can be very frustrating, there are several ways to approach this issue, which basically is asking follow up questions.

Unserious business people:
Be careful of the fair share of unserious people round. There are always people who will tell you they have good contacts with certain companies and that they can arrange meetings for you. What they often forget to say is that they expect a fee from you and you have no guarantee they will actually provide what you are looking for.

Dress Code:
Mexicans generally dress conservatively and both men and women will wear suits in a formal business setting. The dress code may be less formal in other business sectors, but rarely jeans will be acceptable except for manual work. 

General behaviours:
- Standing with your hands on your hips suggests aggressiveness, and keeping your hands in your pockets is impolite.
- Refrain from using first names until invited to do so.

Mexicans may not make eye contact. This is a sign of respect and should not be taken as an affront. Women should not invite a male counterpart for a business dinner unless other associates or spouses attend. Mexican men are warm and friendly, and make a lot of physical contact. They often touch shoulders or hold another’s arm. To withdraw from this touch is considered insulting.

Be aware of the "don't call us, we'll call you" syndrome. In situations where people have no interest in the deal it is pretty common for people to refuse to take your calls (always with a polite lie), or to tell you that they'll "study the situation" and get back to you.  It is important that you learn to distinguish between those cases where your business partner may need a bit more pushing and those cases where there is no chance of actually proceeding a deal.

The Mexican market:
Low manufacturing costs, strong macro-economic indicators and a surge in consumption demand characterize the Mexican market today. The  government of Mexico has set an ambitious infrastructure plan that will stimulate many industries, such as construction, energy, transportation, tourism, water management, and telecommunications.

Demands in the private sector are driven by low manufacturing costs, low logistics costs, strong macro-economic indicators and an increasing demand from the growing middle class.
Mexican Industry is primary centered around Mexico City and the US/Mexican border. Consumer credits are growing at 25 % per year. It has become easier to buy on credit and several markets are growing across the country. Large companies are establishing their activities in Guadalajara, Monterrey, Queretaro, and not only Mexico City. Along with a larger middle class the demand for foreign products is increasing. The local market is increasing its purchasing power and there is a strong demand for luxury products: The top 10 % of households hold around 40 % of income and 80 % of assets.

As a “Near Shore” option for the North American market (NAM), Mexico serves as manufacturing, engineering and sourcing base for NAM. Strong correlation between the peso and USD makes Mexico a natural choice for companies with high invoicing in USD. 
Free trade transit zones, local consolidation points (inbound and outbound) and localized customs clearance lead to optimized time, transportation costs and administration efficiency.

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