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Local Trends in Colombia 2022 and Beyond

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VMLY&R COMMERCE Colombia ponders a Colombian society that’s just beginning to realise its digital potential amidst the ‘new normal’ of 2022 - and what it could mean for brands

Local Trends in Colombia 2022 and Beyond

As we look back over the last two years, to say they have been a ‘once in a lifetime’ experience is almost an understatement.  A worldwide pandemic, the introduction of Covid vaccines, tension on the worldwide stage have all contributed to our ‘new normal’.  And with this new normal comes an enormity of changes on not only the consumer front, but with consumer behaviour and expectations in general. As society faces a completely different context – one in which we are all connected to one another and our environment – it is no surprise that this has led to immense changes in the way people relate to each other, to products and the industry in general. 



The New Era of Circular Economy


What was once only considered idealistic has now become reality as people transition to a responsible consumption model, where consumers look for brands with social and environmental responsibility, as health and the environment come to the forefront of consumer concerns. Through digitalisation though, consumers have increasingly become inundated with information that then affects their purchase decision. Consumers are now seeking products and services that are transparent, local and with a reduced environmental impact. According to Label Insights, 75% of consumers would be willing to pay more for products or services with brands that are transparent with their commercial activity. 

With increased consumer and social media pressure, the term Circular Economy has started to become even more relevant. According to the European Commission, circular economy is a model of production and consumption that involves sharing, renting, reusing, repairing, renewing and recycling existing materials and products as many times as possible to create added value – thus driving an extended life cycle for products to the point of no residue or need for prime resources. While idealistic, the model should not stop there. Instead, there is a need for circular consumption across all dimensions of commerce and value chain, involving communities and their social and economic impact. 

Since 2014, Colombia’s Green Business Plans program (Plan de negocios verdes), in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development (MADS), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), and the European Union, has supported economic activities offering goods or services that generate positive environmental impacts, incorporate best practices environmentally, and contribute to environmental conservation and development within the region (MADS, 2014). 

These Green Business Plans are a clear example of what a real circular economy should look like in rural communities where those activities involve and benefit the local communities, while at the same time increasing the socioeconomic level of regions that are traditionally poor or with reduced economic capacity. 

As consumers we must be accountable for responsible consumption across all dimensions of the value chain. Local consumption, like those under the Green Business Plans, allows conscious consumption with an environmental and social impact allowing consumers to contribute to the building of a better country.



Digital Betterment


Colombian society is just beginning to realise its digital potential. Although some cultural and contextual barriers continue to exist, especially in rural areas, there is still a digital spirit in the regions focused on economic betterment. In the country, technological development moves towards the growth of digital financial products that accelerate the implementation of financial technology (fintech) solutions, aligned with secondary categories of high relevance for glocal trends, including wellness and localism.

Different opportunities arise from both the discovery and use of already explored technologies.  Such is the case with various fintech apps and combined actions that allow innovation and new commercial opportunities including:
  • Shared investment and savings
  • Rural content creators 
  • Financial well-being 
  • Local cryptocurrency gaming
  • Agrofinancing
  • Microloans 
  • Digital CC for Small and medium size business
  • Neobanking

In 2020, new fintech releases appeared in Colombia as a variety of digital products focused on solving financial issues in various communities across the country. While this rise started a decade ago, each year it continues to accelerate, confirming the increasing number of innovations from the fintech category. These innovations all focus on the same point: economical betterment across the board – from online deposit apps that aim to decentralise traditional banking, and new loans apps for those considered a credit risk, to credit cards with lower filters, allowing entrepreneurs to grow faster.

While each generation approaches commerce opportunities differently based on cultural, social and generational differences, the focus remains on decentralising financial opportunities:
  • Colombian boomers are becoming ambassadors of localism in rural areas, redefining its understanding of ageing over 60+. A community spirit is born in them, placing them as progress seeds in small and intermediate towns.
  • Centennials are on a quest of well-being and experiences, looking to stabilise their internal lives in order to stabilise their external ones. These are the ones defying the lack of sense that is present in the glocal world and in the arrhythmic routines of the individualistic cities.
  • Millennials are gathering solutions for pessimism and deep emotions, some of them having families, others finding ways into cheering and constant happiness. (Source: Nielsen Generational Lifestyle Survey)

Colombia is a unique country, where clashes between local and global trends and technology can still be better understood when key comparisons across digital transformation are made such as rural vs. cities. Especially Bogota and Medellin, where an expanding digital development arises in the cities, but is still slow to reach the countryside.



Health... More Than a ‘Bless You’ 


Health is no longer considered just a physical issue. While the pandemic has brought both opportunity and responsibility for brands to offer wellbeing services to others, there is now an entire ecosystem surrounding wellbeing and what we feel and consider to be well. With this change, health professionals are no longer the only ones responsible for maintaining health – but also brands have become major players in the field as they look to ensure the well-being of their consumers.  

In this new health economy, emotions – not products – are trafficked. Without actions though, these emotional messages are useless. Getting out of the traditional to save lives is what matters and will ultimately make the difference. 

“Marketing is the generous act of helping others solve a problem… their problem,” says Seth Godin. A clear example of this is Rolling Stone magazine’s ‘Life Algorithm’ – an algorithm created to recognise symptoms of depression on Twitter, based on the diaries of singer-songwriter Kurt Cobain. ‘Life Algorithm’ can identify a wide variety of words, expressions, and phrases considered symptoms of depression in public tweets. The algorithm expects to help identify people at risk and in its first month of launch identified almost 300,000 tweets that contained grammar associated with depression. 

Today more than ever, there is an opportunity for brands to improve lifestyles and ensure wellbeing with technologies at hand and a thirsty consumer eager to be heard and cared for. To talk about mental health though is not enough. Brands can ensure that regular care and guidance can be provided in various contexts by creating community and support groups and becoming a helping hand to provide personalised quality services. 



Diversity Is Not Only a Gender Issue


After years of analysing consumer behaviour, brands now understand that gender is only one aspect of diversity. With a decade of action behind us, minority movements have gained strength, turning niche markets into relevant phenomena that reveal new buyers and more opportunities to impact them.  
 
With this transformation, the demographic segmentation previously used to predict consumer behaviour has been left in the past.  Searching for satisfaction in terms of values, passions, and convictions is now part of the new shopper 2.0 mentality. Having experienced cultural diversity, they are finding a mix of life options in communal individualism, which has pushed brands to shape products and services to meet these new needs.
  
Each of the members within these new niches have managed to be recognised as unique, however, this uniqueness needs to be confirmed and admired by consumer’s peers, the famous tribes, who increasingly establish themselves by staying true to their lifestyles, allowing brands to harvest new customers who will become their advocates and who will carry this purpose into their daily lives. 
 
The shopper 2.0 is constantly looking for brands that can satisfy their needs. Brands that stop delivering the basics for a person and start focusing on enhancing their products while finding the trigger to transform them into consumer communities that will establish new and better relationships. This will benefit their sales, and shoppers will be truly convinced by what they consume. 



From Hybrid to Adaptable


Today, life’s meaning has changed. People realise that work isn’t the centre anymore – wellbeing is – and new priorities for the way we shop, work, eat, and above all, live, have surfaced. As we live in this ‘new normal’ our online and in-person lives have merged, with relationships dragged into a new hybrid modality. What originally grew out of a safety necessity during the initial weeks and months of the pandemic has now morphed into an expectation of convenience. 

Telemedicine has empowered patients with their health, and doctors with their schedules and business; people are connected for celebrations even if not physically present. As experiences in people’s lives are reimagined and reinterpreted, brands are increasing product and service personalisation to match consumers´ flexible lifestyles and redesigning the world around them. 

This new context, established by the pandemic and continued social and technological changes, is changing the way we perceive time and space, even more than we could have imagined two years ago. 

As this hybrid model continues to change, so does our context as we begin to experience multiple reality planes simultaneously. The present has two clear dimensions now – the reality we were used to and the virtual reality of today. Both are now starting to converge and coexist at the same time, but within a different space. Not only does this affect the way people work and consume, but it translates to the need of thinking into the future, and the consciousness that there will be a record of the immediate present, since it is being lived through virtual and face to face experiences at the same time. This opens a window of opportunity to adapt in both worlds at the same time, as well as to achieve levels of efficiency never before seen. Thinking and acting in a more hybrid-centric way, with a holistic view of the full consumer journey, requires new skills, new ways of working and innovative partnerships.

VMLY&R COMMERCE believes that these trends present an opportunity for brands to transform their commercial strategies and find new sources of growth at the intersection of creativity, culture and technology.


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VMLY&R COMMERCE Colombia contributing team:
  • Sebastián Gutiérrez, VP Commerce Planning 
  • Carolina Echeverri, Planner Senior
  • Camilo Tovar, Strategic Planning Analyst
  • Christian Henao, Strategic Planning Analyst
  • Laura Lozano, Strategic Planning Analyst
  • Valentina Risso, Planning Trainee

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VMLY&R COMMERCE LATAM, Fri, 01 Apr 2022 14:47:34 GMT