This article discusses the growth over time of the beauty industry in Latin America, and its bias towards celebrating whiter rather than darker skins. Although alleged Latin American fascination with beauty is regularly ascribed to culture, Latin sensuousness and machismo attitudes, this article shows that the growth of the industry was historically contingent. It was shaped by corporations, especially Avon and Colgate, who transferred marketing capabilities from the United States and Europe. The industry also grew as the means out of poverty for many women who worked as sales consultants and in salons. Winning beauty contests became the equivalent to winning a lottery. In this respect,the impact of the beauty industry was positive. However it also, as elsewhere, imposed restrictive notions of beauty on generations of women, and created cultures in which breast implants and buttocks injections became the societal norm. The industry intensified rather than challenged the deep racism of the region.
Tequila Patrón was one of the most successful tequila marketers in the United States. Patrón needed to grow and in Mexico, the second largest market for tequila, the brand was perceived as American. What portfolio and branding strategy would best serve Patrón to conquer the Mexican market? Furthermore, what would expanding in Mexico imply for the company’s marketing operations?
In 2006, Mexican convenience store chain OXXO faced a threat from a formidable competitor, the rival convenience chain Extra. OXXO had embarked on an initiative to fortify its corporate culture and operating system, but the threat of Extra raised the question of whether they should focus on opening as many stores as possible and as quickly as possible, in order to maintain market leadership. CEO Eduardo Padilla had to define his strategy and decide whether to focus on improving culture and operations or on relentlessly beating its rival.
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Maria Fernanda Miguel joined Harvard Business School in 2013 as Director for the Latin America Research Center (LARC). Her responsibilities include leading research activities for Spanish speaking countries in LATAM, and providing programmatic support to different areas of HBS including admissions, executive education, and immersion programs. Fernanda is based in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Prior to join Harvard Business School, Fernanda was a Senior Director and Leader for LATAM Business Development at Merck and senior consultant at McKinsey & Co., serving as global Practice Manager for the Business Technology Office Health Care Practice.
Fernanda holds a degree in economics from the Argentine Catholic University, an MBA from Harvard Business School, and a Master of Research from University of Bath.
Fernanda has been very active in non-profit activities, including fund rising at the Fundación Acción Hemato-oncologica – Argentine National Academy of Medicine, and acting as advisor to the Board of Directors of the Hospital Garrahan.
Priscilla Zogbi is the Director of the Latin American Research Center in São Paulo. Priscilla focuses on the School’s work in Brazil, developing research opportunities for faculty and relationships for other educational efforts such as the MBA curricular innovation and immersion programs.
Priscilla has over 17 years’ experience in marketing and product development. Before joining HBS she was a consultant to private equity and venture capital firms interested in the region. Prior to that she was a Global and a Regional Marketing Director at Avon Products, and has held managerial positions in the US and Brazil with Bath & Body Works, General Mills, Johnson & Johnson and Reckitt Benckiser.