RIO DE JANEIRO: Brands need to adapt their communications and pricing strategies in order to make an impact in Latin America, research from TNS has revealed.

The company stated that 30% of people in the region described themselves as being "very happy", while 57% were "quite happy", despite the adverse economic climate.

While almost half of Latin America's 700 million residents can be considered as being poor, this group still boasts a combined purchasing power of over $500bn (€393bn; £338bn).

Around 50% of this total is dedicated to grocery goods, with much of rest being spent on mobile phones, home improvement, apparel and entertainment.

In all, 90% of this cohort own a colour TV and listen to the radio, and while they typically have to buy cheaper "second tier" brands, many also opt for "leader brands" in some categories.

More broadly, this demographic places a great value on the consistency and durability of the products they buy, and thus appreciate the certainty offered by brands.

With regard to retail, modern chains hold a market share of 48% in Chile, Brazil and Venezuela, falling to 35% in Mexico, Argentina, Ecuador, and Colombia and 13% in Peru and Bolivia.

Local operators typically dominate, responsible for a 75% share in Brazil, Mexico and Colombia, and the region's five biggest players take just 15% of the market, strengthening the position of brand owners.

While women now play a key role in the labour market, TNS found that most have simultaneously retained their position as head of the household, making the majority of purchase decisions.

"This leads to a concern about time, a scarce and desired resource … The discussion groups with women are full of their own desires placed on the back burner," the company argued.

For example, 30% of women in Argentina were categorised as being "time freaks" who were always in a hurry and had to do things in a rush.

As 60% of children aged between three and nine years old in Latin America have their own money to spend, they also now have a role as being "drivers" of consumption.

"There is strong evidence that suggests that in Latin America, from very early on, children are informed and sophisticated consumers," TNS said.

"We are no longer dealing only with the consequence of nagging power … but rather the fact that mothers feel that their children have rights as consumers to be heard and to choose."

In terms of media, Brazil and Mexico account for half of Latin America's online audience, although penetration is highest in Argentina and Chile, at 35%, around 10% ahead of all other markets.

At present, 74% of messages are sent by mobile phone, with the rest delivered via email on a PC, a figure that has grown from 59% last year.

Elsewhere, physical appearance was found to be of great importance to shoppers, scoring 7.5 points on a ten-point scale, signalling opportunities for health and beauty brands.

Awareness of ecological issues is also rising, with 70% of consumers concerned about global warming, although 86% of this group were yet to take any action at home to protect the environment.

Data sourced from TNS; additional content by Warc staff