How Mexico perceives New Zealand and how to shift those perceptions

To interest Mexico in New Zealand’s products and services, the usual emphasis on pristine snowy peaks and vast, empty landscapes won’t cut it. Here’s how to reposition your offering to better connect with this market.

With the CPTPP generating new business opportunities in Mexico, New Zealand Story and the Latin American Centre for Asia Pacific Excellence (LACAPE) commissioned Auckland market research firm Big Picture to interview Mexican consumers and businesses about how they view New Zealand.

The resulting insights have generated a whitepaper, a presentation, and tips on choosing the best creative imagery. All can be downloaded for free from New Zealand Story

How Mexico sees itself

Across four focus groups and eight business to business interviews, Mexican subjects described some of the contradictions that define their country, where a younger generation are moving away from conservative mindsets, where an upwardly mobile, emerging middle class aspires to scale an entrenched hierarchy, and where economic inequality exists alongside a proudly collectivist, family-oriented way of being.

They described their country as being defined by its place at the centre of the Americas, with colourful, maximalist, exuberant spaces and an indulgent, ‘live for today’ mentality. And they described their society as still deeply spiritual, hierarchical and patriarchal.

How do Mexicans feel about foreign products?

Interview subjects explained the concept of “malinchismo”, a traditional resentment of those who view foreign products as superior, and expressed an emerging pride in ‘made in Mexico’ products.

But they also expressed a curiosity about new, premium, foreign products, and a cosmopolitan openness to what the rest of the world has to offer.

These factors suggest that looking for points of connection, or just straightforwardly emphasising New Zealand provenance, might not work.

Instead, New Zealand businesses need to find a way to exploit “cultural friction”, and intrigue Mexican consumers with what’s unique about our offering. 

“Think about how to craft a story that complements Mexico, rather than competes”

How does Mexico feel about New Zealand products and services?

As in other markets, Mexican consumers perceive New Zealand to be similar to Australia (far away, expensive), only smaller and even less accessible.

The rural, predominantly Pākehā culture transmitted in images of unspoiled landscapes and sheep farms registers with Mexican consumers as cold, remote and boring.

To overcome these limitations, New Zealand businesses need to emphasise what else New Zealand has to offer: thriving modern cities and spaces where people from diverse cultures are welcomed; an emerging, unique gastronomy; a proud indigenous culture, and sophisticated technologies that don’t involve sheep (as much as we love them), such as sustainable manufacturing and clean energy.  

To overcome the perception that New Zealand is too far away to work with, it’s important for businesses to be responsive, flexible and highly collaborative.

And in line with Mexico’s business culture, it’s advisable to send senior personnel to market, for face to face contact with customers and suppliers, and to work with NZTE or the New Zealand Embassy to leverage relationships. 

Shifting our imagery

Communicating New Zealand as a young country originating new products and knowledge can help us to connect with an increasingly outward-looking consumer.

And while this consumer, and the market for premium New Zealand products and services might be niche, in a country of 127 million, a small niche represents a huge opportunity.