International Consumer Product Testing Across Cultures and Countries: Mexico
Pages: 11 Published: May 2007
Mexican culture can't be individualized. Mexico is formed from several distinctive native settlers and “conquerors.” Mexico has a very ancient history that has passed through bloody battles, socio-culturepolitical, and religious impositions, and finally the amalgamating time factor has created amixture of ethnic groups that live peacefully together. Mexican culture is attractive, basically because of its plurality in cuisine, exotic fruits, and resorts, ruins, the cheerfulness of its people, and its mysticism (reflected in its sorcerers, ancient temples, and herbal medicine). Of course, without forgetting the actual political transition after 72 years in power by one political party (Matte and Balderas 2003).
Mexicans have suffered for generations because of economical instability, extreme poverty, political corruption, and neglect to formal education. This has modeled a society of tremendous contrast: a small group of persons with extreme richness, great political power, and a high international education; a big mass of persons in extreme poverty, malnutrition, marginality, politically powerless, and with very little hope or interest for formal education. Between these two extremes a “middle” class has battled to survive, has been shut out from the rest of the world (until NAFTA and Internet opened a door!), has suffered the effect of paying high taxes for the rest of the Mexicans, and with time it has been diminishing in number because of the lack of evolution in the educational and economical systems (for example: credit is very expensive). But hope is not lost! Free trade agreements and political changes, greater experience on how to handle the “ups and downs” of the economy, a plural-powered congress, creation of new fountains of employment, and improvement of school professors’ salaries, all in all it’s generating a more stable atmosphere to live in.
These contrasts or extremes are also reflected in our productive-commercial system. For example, marketing research is relatively a new tool for Mexican politicians and small private companies, basically due to the fact that today Mexicans have been empowered through a much cleaner electoral process; the commercial free market is being highly diversified through introduction of foreign companies or importation of their products. This justifies that in the past 25 years, over 50 marketing research agencies serving the Mexican market have been integrated. It was only until 1992 that the Mexican Association of Marketing Research and Public Opinion Agencies (AMAI) was founded. A list of marketing agencies can be obtained from AMAI (2005) (www.amai.org).
Sensory science, on the other hand, has a shorter life span in Mexico, but yes, a very promising future. Some interest in sensory science started in the mid-70s when Rose Marie Pangborn came to Mexico with Herbert Stone to give a short course through the Mexican chapter of the IFT, the Mexican Association of Food Technologists (ATAM). Since then very little was done. Slowly thereafter, a handful of Rose Marie’s students, back from U.C. Davis, started working locally, giving conferences and classes about sensory science and it’s involvement in product development, marketing, and quality control (Coutiño 1994; Pedrero and Pangborn 1989). Currently there are several independent consultants in sensory science who are able to conduct consumer research studies for companies using their own or subcontracted facilities.
A handful of university and government-financed research centers have initiated sensory evaluation activities, supporting chemistry or food related faculties. An interesting review of the history of sensory science in Mexico was published in 1994 (Coutiño 1994).
Paper ID: MNL11110M
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