Mexican Manufacturers Following Customers North

Sep 01, 2004

By Terry Soto

The August 16th issue of the Economist Magazine observes, when it comes to the growing Mexican-American market in the U.S., “for the most part, American businesses have been oddly slow to react” and Mexican firms are doing a better job.

In the food arena, several Mexican and Cuban food companies are aggressively filling the needs and preferences of U.S. Hispanics. And after having addressed the various Hispanic segments, Goya Foods is now meeting the increasing appeal for Hispanic foods among the mainstream market. Other Hispanic companies doing an equally impressive job include La Fe Foods, La Cena Fine Foods, Iberia Foods, Mission Foods, and Herdez.

The article goes on to say that, among American firms, only the banks have awakened to the potential of designing products around the needs of Latinos to send money back home each year. And in fact, Bank of America’s SafeSend product, Wells Fargo’s InterCuenta, Citibank’s Global Transfers, among others, are all new products aimed at winning a share of $28 billion dollars being sent electronically to relatives in Latin America; mostly to Mexico.

Additionally, Fleet Boston recently launched a Latino credit card — Acceso. Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, the nation’s leading lender to minorities, opened its Hispanic Customer Service Center in Las Cruces, N.M. The center, the first of its kind in the mortgage industry, provides specialized service to Spanish-speaking homebuyers in 16 Western States. It is the first of several such centers that Wells Fargo is opening across the nation. My Access Checking was launched at BofA and was piloted in Spanish in Los Angeles late last year. It is now available as their Nuevo Futuro (New Future) account. My Access features a low opening deposit of $25, free checking with direct deposit, no minimum balance, unlimited check writing, free online banking with bill pay, a check card with Photo Security option, and unlimited access to their nationwide ATM network. BofA has also established Presta Linea, a toll-free Spanish-language phone center that is staffed by specially trained bilingual loan and information experts.

Moderator’s Comment: What can U.S. firms learn from the successes of their competition from South of the Border? Do
you agree that Mexican firms are doing a better job of serving this market in the U.S. than U.S. firms? Who are the best practice operators? What are they doing?

Terry Soto – Moderator

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