In Latin America, where the middle class and the poor now account for about the same share of the region's population, consumption patterns are changing from needs to wants – and companies are paying attention.
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A recent World Bank study showed that 50 million Latin Americans have joined the middle class in the last decade, and the growth in personal fortunes is changing consumption patterns across the region.
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Companies are keen on the region, expanding their presence and investments to capitalize on the growth.
Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters
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One in five mortgages in Mexico are through Scotiabank, and the bank recently closed a deal to buy Credito Familiar, which adds 145,000 customers for the bank in the region.
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The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board plans to spend $343-million expanding its portfolio in Brazil’s real estate market. It is also investing in shopping malls in Brazil and toll roads in Chile.
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Research in Motion is the number one smartphone vendor in the region and it's an area of growth for the company.
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Cosmetics company Lush is expanding its presence, too. It has opened stores in Mexico, Panama and Chile in the past three years, and is planning on opening in Brazil in the next year or so.
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Lush also plans to open a manufacturing plant in Brazil as well.
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Latin America is the main focus for growth for Montreal-based Dorel Industries, said the company’s chief financial officer. In September, the company bought a 70-per-cent stake in two businesses that sell playpens, strollers and high chairs in Colombia and Central America.