All you need to know about Iberian America

The Latin American Love for the Mainstream

Published October 1, 2022 in Mexico - 1 Comment

After having moved to an area of Mexico City known as Iztapalapa, my landlord wanted to show me around the neighborhood.

The dude has really been on top of it for the first few weeks in trying to make me happy with the area and the apartment building.

Always asking if anything could be better.

And the day after I moved in involved him taking me around the neighborhood and showing me everything.

Basically just where the nearby markets are, what streets to stay off, where the nearby gyms are, etc.

In particular, I was more interested in knowing which gyms are in the area.

He showed me the first one that is literally just a 1 minute walk from the apartment building.

It only costs 170 pesos per month and the initial payment you make for the year membership is 30 pesos.

So basically like 8.5 USD per month.

When we checked it out, it didn't look that good but it had literally nobody using it.

All to myself!

But half of the machines were broken and it just didn't seem that nice.

Then later on he showed me another gym.

And he started talking about "just how NICE" this gym is.

SUPER nice!

"More upper class" he told me.

Once we got to Metro UAM, we found a little mini plaza area that has a bunch of stores.

And saw the gym in question.

It was Smart Fit.

And I immediately was disappointed.

Smart Fit is basically the Planet Fitness of Mexico City.

He asks me "do you got a mask on?" as Smart Fit requires a mask to work out inside.

And I look through the window and see all these people working out with a mask on.

"Nah, I'm OK. I don't like Smart Fit" I told him.

He seemed surprised by that statement.

His face changed.

"Really? It's one of the best gyms in Mexico City!" he tells me.

Well, we left it at that.

If he thinks so, then sure.

But I never liked the idea of going to Smart Fit.

The music is shit.

The vibe is too limp dick.

I'm not wearing a mask to work out.

And I don't like giving my debit card info to anybody and Smart Fit doesn't accept cash payments.

Also, in more "barrio" style gyms, you typically have hotter chicks with bigger asses.

Above all, I just don't use Smart Fit for working out and I found it weird how much this dude was hyping up the gym before we got there.

If he prefers working out there, then whatever.

And it was better than the first gym he showed me (though my few weeks here has shown me other barrio gyms in the area that are nicer).

But my words couldn't do it justice anyhow as to how much he was hyping it up.

Literally said that it's one of the best gyms in the city.

There's way better gyms out there in my opinion.

Having said that, it's not entirely weird that he was hyping it up.

One thing you notice about Mexicans and Latin Americans of other countries is that, at least compared to folks back home, they seem to go on defense much harder for "mainstream" products, companies and services.

Especially those from Western countries like the US.

They just seem to hold them up in higher regard.

And it's not entirely weird or illogical when you think about some of the reasons for why that might be the case.

There's different theories of mine that I hold regarding this.

Let's get into that.

The Latin American Love for the Mainstream

Before we get into it, I do want to say quickly that sometimes you meet Latin Americans who are the exact opposite of what I'm about to describe.

Where they have a bias against all things foreign and have a "buy Mexico" attitude like you'd see in other countries like the US.

And obviously you have plenty who don't have a bias for or against foreign mainstream companies. I don't want to paint all Latin Americans as being one or the other.

Anyway, let's get to it.

First, you simply have folks that just hold in higher regard all things foreign.

In Mexico, we call it "malinchismo" that actually refers to something broader but I hold it to be relevant here to the topic.

Some local holding in higher regard the foreign company from the US or Europe simply because it comes from there.

Second, you do at times find that some foreign companies are better here for certain tasks.

Maybe more expensive (though not always).

But more reliable, better customer service, less likely to scam you, decent quality in what they offer, etc.

For example, I'd be very hesitant to ever get my laptop fixed with one of the local shops that offer to do that simply because of the stories I've heard of them fucking it up, stealing your shit, etc.

Years ago when I had laptop problems more commonly, I'd loyally go to Best Buy to fix it because I just knew that there'd absolutely be no fuckery whatsoever.

What I pay is what I get and there's no bullshit.

Not saying you can't find a local shop to be fair with you but I just have less trust for them.

And so I can understand why some Latin Americans would also have a "brand loyalty" for the foreign company in some contexts.

Third, I'm not sure how to phrase this properly but I'll do my best: I believe Americans have more of a "fuck you, I'm independent" mindset than Latin Americans.

And that this type of mindset also produces other characteristics like being more distrusting of institutions, going for the product from some small business that doesn't have a name like Coca Cola or Nike, etc.

And that Latin Americans -- if we were to generalize -- have less of that on average than folks back home.

Again, this is all just very broad generalizations of one huge ass region and a big country like the US.

You got plenty of Latin Americans who don't have brand loyalty and reject it religiously and you got plenty of Americans who do have brand loyalty.

You get it's just a generalization.

Fourth, I'd wonder how much the local marketing and all the money bigger companies from the US or Europe can pour into that matters.

Obviously, if you have more money to market your services and expand across the city like Smart Fit, you can more easily take in more customers than the local 8.5 dollar barrio gym in Iztapalapa.

And while you do have big businesses born in Mexico, most can't really compete with US big businesses that have a shit ton more money.

Fifth, going back to the third point, there might be cultural differences that I don't fully appreciate the details on when it comes to brand loyalty.

For example, this article here briefly discusses the topic at hand comparing brand loyalty in Latin America to the US and gives a casual mention to the importance of cultural changes.

"But before I left, one kind of emerging hipster value was to avoid big brands. Wearing clothes from local designers, eating food from small indie restaurants and buying from farmer’s markets was the direction all the cool kids were moving in. The political justification came in the form of the anti-corporate bestseller for far-left progressives, No Logo by Naomi Klein.  

I never cared about the politics of it and I was never a hipster, but I did straddle that scene and some of it rubbed off on me. So imagine my horror when I arrived in Latin America to see how the general public drools over fairly pedestrian brands like Coca-Cola, Levi’s or Nestle. Even brands you wouldn’t expect like Caterpillar, Lee, Gillette, Pampers, Johnson & Johnson. In emerging markets, these are top-of-the-line products that have the public trust to charge a premium."

I can't comment though too much on that because I just don't understand it as much but I figured I'd mention it because it probably has importance.

Anyway, that's all I got to say.

Perhaps there are other points to mention but none come to mind right now at 1:51 AM.

Above all, it's just a certain detail you notice among SOME Latin Americans who have this brand loyalty to foreign companies from the US or Europe.

It is what it is.

If you got anything to add, drop a comment below.

And follow my Twitter here.

Thanks for reading.

Best regards,


1 comment

K - October 8, 2022 Reply

Love the sociological thesis and balanced discussion!

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