Food, Facebook and finding niche audiences in Mexico
You started your first new title, Food Acapulco, distributed in Acapulco Wal-Mart stores, at $40MXN in Easter 2013 and just two years later added another glossy, Food Mexico and Me (Food Mexico y Yo) published in both English and Spanish. What motivated you to start these titles?
With Food Acapulco I wanted to created something beautiful about Acapulco. It is a lovely city that has been going through some hard times. However, not everything is bad about the Acapulco story. It has lovely people, amazing scenery and great weather. The food scene is unique as there are a lot of international fusion dishes. This is because the Pacific coast port has been the destination for varying types of people. Pirates, Japanese and Spanish explorers and escaped African slaves have all made Acapulco their home in the distant past. In the last century, there was an influx of Americans, Europeans, Chinese, and Mexicans from other areas of the country who have fused together to create an interesting culture. I wanted to showcase this in my magazine.
As for Food Mexico and Me, it was a natural branching off of Food Acapulco. We had tremendous success with our first issue of Food Acapulco at Wal-mart stores locally and started to expand across the country. We then started to consider international distribution opportunities. As we discussed expanding our brand globally with potential international partners, it was decided the best option – for now – was to pivot to the larger “Mexico” term to give the magazine a broader appear.
You have experimented with multi-language publications right from the start. How successful is this?
Our initial issues of Food Acapulco had bilingual sections. We have tested both English and Japanese in our bilingual sections. When we launched Food Mexico y Yo, we elected to make each issue monolingual. Now we publish in Spanish for the Mexican market, and we have been test marketing an English edition in Manhattan.
How supportive is the advertising industry in Mexico of print and what percentage advertising do you carry?
We try to maintain a three to one ratio for content versus advertising. The Mexican food reader is a very sophisticated audience. Our audience not only understand trends and topics in Mexico but also in the world at large. We create high level content to reach our audience and this is reflected by our advertorials and advertisements. It should be noted that the wrong approach towards the Mexican consumer can spell doom for a project.
Now that you mention your audience, have you analysed your target market to fine-tune your content philosophy?
Our target audience are aspirational individuals who are seeking to improve their lives with life empowering content about food and Mexican lifestyle topics. This is the fastest growing and most loyal demographic group we have identified in Mexico. As Food Acapulco was dedicated to the international brand of Acapulco and given that this is such an international city with many diverse flavours, Food Mexico y Yo builds upon this but also includes a stronger emphasis on Mexican cuisine, which is globally recognised by Unesco for its heritage. People love Mexican food and we want to fuse that love with topics of wellness, health and occasional celebrity profiles.
We generate content based upon the aggregation of data from our readers and partners. We carefully tailor our content to the needs of the aspirational Mexican class. Thus all of our content is based around self improvement and living a more enriched life. Our writers source articles that will be of particular interest to this cross section of the Mexican public.
You go beyond only publishing to build a relationship with your readers and partners…tell us more?
Given that we currently only focus on annual editions of our magazines, we also build our audience through sponsored events and we develop a deep social media penetration. We actually talk with business owners and consumers in the marketplace. We have become a deep well of business intelligence, which has been invaluable to many of our partners.
And your personal love for food?
I have always been fascinated by food, the way people prepare food and how they eat it tell you so much about a culture.
What is most challenging part of publishing print titles in the Mexican market and how are niche titles like yours being received/appreciated in this market?
Niche titles in Mexico are amazing because it allows you to develop tight relationships with your readership. That knowledge of your readership is highly attractive for advertisers. Thus it is a win-win situation for us. The Mexican market is ripe for new market entries.
That said, I would generally advise that the Mexican audience needs to be approached with care. This market has some of the most sophisticated media consumers in the world.
Mexicans consume a lot of international content as well as home-grown content. They know when something is being “targeted” towards them. This is the primary reason why I have seen many companies, including Mexican-owned players, fail in the marketplace. They don’t treat their audience with respect and at least acknowledge what their audience have seen online and through TV and movies about everything the world has to offer.
Is digital as disruptive in the Mexican market as it is in the rest of the world?
Mexico has a lot of very large corporations. As such new ideas have to go through multiple layers of management before being implemented. Thus digital ideas have more challenges of being accepted by the largest advertisers versus more traditional media. This is the reason why print is still a valuable way to establish a brand and credibility in the marketplace.
While we discuss digital publishing, can you briefly share your online strategy and plans as well as your social media activities?
Facebook is the dominant social media platform in Mexico. Other media platforms are present in Mexico but usually target selected demographics within the country. The platform you use will depend on your audience, but we heavily target our audience on Facebook, Twitter and old fashioned face-to-face. Relationships in Mexico are vitally important. We use a combination of the above three as ways to build deep roots into Mexico’s food community.
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