Montag, 16. Mai 2011

Chile is seen as market entry area for South America for many branches already

As Santiago is the biggest business city in Chile I got in contact with Antje Wandelt – Director of DEInternational at the German Chamber of commerce (AHK) there.
It was very interesting for me to compare Argentina and Chile with each other. Countries always appear quite similar if you look at them from a distant perspective but once you get more into the details – quite a lot of differences appear.
As any other chamber of commerce they act as a contact point for German companies mainly in terms of providing business information and contacts in Chile, branch specific information and possibilities to enter a new market and set up a business successfully.

Chamber of commerce - Website use and Internet spread


The chamber itself is working with two main websites, www.deinternational.de and www.camchal.cl. The DEinternational website is set up as an own brand for standardized business center communication for different countries. The camchal website is more targeted towards providing current news around the countries, branches and regions as well as informing them about upcoming projects and results of past projects. As 3rd option the Chilenian chamber takes part in a B2B renewable energy platform where companies can provide their own services in this sector to be found by others – it has similarities to the yellow page entry in Germany.
The AHK provides on their camchal website any news and upcoming event as a main entry point and with a immediate register form. For any bigger event the chamber is providing an own event website.Facebook was used in a bigger surrounding for the Expo Alemania 2008 event, however, the stretch on resources necessary to keep the facebook fan page alive after the event proved too much for the company. I think this problem sounds a bit familiar as a lot of other companies around the globe underestimate the effort of running a successful facebook site on a long term perspective.

At the moment the chamber is not using Facebook as one main communication channel. Instead they try a lot of banner advertisements on different B2B platforms which are interesting for their target group. Search engine optimization is part of their activities as well while SEM is not really used to date.

I was really impressed as I heard that they take a lot of care of specialized customer relationship management. That means everyone who registers for an event or is asking for information at the chamber, is tagged with some keywords in which topics this company or person could be interested in. In the meantime they have already collected a couple of thousands well qualified business contacts in this way. Once they plan a new event they can easily select the target group due to the tagging information in their database. For me it sounded as it could be a very good example to others.

Offline Marketing as print mailings or advertisement is used less and less as it appears far too expensive compared to online banner marketing and of course while using the online channel you can always get good statistics out of it. The chamber itself even use their web analysis results for their own telemarketing activities.

Chile Market overview

B2B - more communication than direct sale via the online channel

Next to this information Miss Wandelt also provided a general overview in which Chilean branches are very well developed and where German companies mainly provide their products. Surprisingly (at least for me) was that German companies more or less “only” provide their products and business solutions. They don't act as an main investor here in Chile but they have open sales and service offices here. In Argentina, especially in the car industry, a different picture is apparent. Cordoba is one of the main investment places for German car brands where huge factories are currently in operation.

Chile, as an investment place, is very attractive. There is almost no corruption within the public sectors and even the bank system is very well developed for future business opportunities. Companies use Chile mostly as their first market in South America. If it works out here they start to extend their business to other countries as well.

The mining industry is the main sector in Chile with more than US$50 Million invested in the next years. Companies who provide any kind of fitting solution or product in this area might have a good chance of finding attractive business partners here in Chile. The same happens with the whole energy sector. which is very similar to Argentina

German companies offer many solutions for the strong growing medicine sector over here. A lot of foreign people travel to Chile for treatment.

The telecommunication channel is very well developed as well. Almost everywhere has WIFI available (even in the dessert) and Chileans are always interested in the newest trends and mobile technology which is available on the market.

B2B companies in Chile use the online channel mainly for communicate their their products and services without any additional price information. This is very similar to Argentina or also Germany. Let's see if this will change during the next couple of years.

It's all about "Being online" in the retail area

In the retail area the way of behavior differentiates to B2B. The inhabitants in the bigger cities are buying almost everything online. Also supermarkets offer sales via the internet. Even medical appointments with doctors or hospitals are made online. After booking you receive a confirmation text to your mobile and a reminder a day before which, I personally think, is a comfortable way of customer communication. Also pharmacies offer an online / mobile reminder service to take a special medication you might otherwise forget. I don't know of any service like this currently existing in Germany.

Facebook is used more and more for event communication to get in contact with people and provide all necessary information beforehand. People in general feel safe to provide their payment details via credit card on the internet. Offering private information on Facebook still depends a bit of the age generation you belong to. Here I got the feeling there are some differences to Argentina where the whole payment online business needs still a bit of trust work around.

I was impressed how far developed the chamber works with their own website activities and ideas. The whole B2B sector is of course still at the beginning to use the internet as a main communication and sales channel but this will change in the upcoming years.

Thanks to Miss Wandelt for the interesting meeting we had.

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