Trendy Tendencias: US & Mexico

Blog following and discussing new trends, specifically in the US and in Mexico.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Sending Money Home II

First of all, I'd like to say that if my posts seem somehow lacking a certain "umph" lately, I'm sorry. I'm totally distracted and hope to explain the details on why soon!

I'm just going to revisit one more topic, and hopefully tomorrow I'll start out again with new material. It's not for a lacking of topics, I have a list of probably about 20 things I'd like to discuss, but I'm experiencing some sort of "blogger's block" lately.

I discussed earlier this month the topic of Sending Money Home...and what a big business money transfers from the US to Mexico is. Prices can be up to $16 or more per transaction. Well, according to a recent article that I have found, the US Fed is giving the banks a shot at this Mexico money transfer market. Mainstream banks currently receive a REALLY small percentage of this business (3%), and could charge only $4 to the customers making the transfer...and still make a profit. It only costs the US Federal Reserve $0.67 to make the transfer.

There are still problems to overcome such as trust (some fear being deported), and the fact that some banks will require Social Security Numbers (which many people don't have).

Still, it's a huge market, and the prices are ridiculously inflated, and it will be nice to see some cheaper competition come into play.

Technorati Tags: ,

Sunday, May 29, 2005


Tagging, a way to categorize posts or other types of internet data, is becoming more and more popular. I only recently became aware of tags, and have decided to start trying it out with this post.

AP Story on Tagging...

Wikipedia definition: tagging

Technorati tag:

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Previous Post Updates: New News, Similar Trends

Being gone for so long, I had TONS (100s) of my Yahoo Keyword News Alerts to review, and as I finally finished last night, I had about 10 new topics that I wanted to post about. But I also saw some similar topics that related to some posts that I had previously made. So I thoughts that I would revisit those for a minute:

1. In my Childhood Obesity post, I explored new businesses that are resulting from this growing trend. Well yesterday I found an article about Yoga for kids, that may not necessarily be as a result of childhood obesity, but could be a result of: A) a new fitness trend for kids or B) the fact that kids are just naturally more mature these days and may be subject to much more stress than we ever were.

In any case I think it's a great idea, because my 8 year old niece loves doing yoga with me, and I figured that there must be a specially designed program for kids.

2. In my Environment: Global Warming post, I started a series of posts, which I will continue soon, to talk about the mess that is happening with this planet. This week I came across another article that talks about how the Earth's surface is brighter now. While there seems to be some scientific debate about this that I'm sure I wouldn't understand even with more detail, this seems to mean that more heat is reaching the ground.

3. And finally, in regards to my post that actually got a little bit of discussion going (yeah!), Pregnancy & Ultrasound Centers, I found something that somehow I feel is "similar but different": Medi-Spas. The idea here is that you can do a little bit of shopping, go to the spa, go to the dentist, and maybe even get your annual physical exam all in one spot. I guess I'm seeing the similarities here in that Medical services are being customized, just like everything else right now (see yesterday's post).

It seems to me that most of the new services are really catering to the $$$ upper-class $$$.

These trends that I'm discussing are basically based on the US view. I still haven't seen anything like these topics in Mexico yet.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Customization, Design Your Own Stuff & Have Your Own Online Store

I'm kind of combining 3 trends into one post here, because I feel like they can be very much related. Look at a company like where you can create your own T-Shirts, have your own online store, or buy any one of their 8 million existing products.

As you look around the web (and even my own blog) people can set up their own shops, be it through Amazon or any number of other sites such cafepress mentioned above...and it's quite easy! A Blogspotting post talked about this last week...and if it poses a threat to eBay.

And we are also seeing a huge "customization" trend...Customers designing their own products or having ways to give their input to the companies that they frequent.

Customization of motorcycles is creating a challenge for mechanics, as well. This trend is said to be related to the program "American Chopper", and I imagine that "Pimp My Ride" is doing the same for cars!

So bringing the two topics back together: You can make your own products and easily set up your own online store...and at the same time we are seeing a big demand for anything "unique". Normally unique = expensive but I think some companies are figuring out how to still be original on a budget.

And just to let everyone know, I was traveling the last couple of weeks and am now back I will be back to daily posts again.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Teen Pregnancy

I've been reading recently about a new sex-ed film that is being released to the schools in Texas - Toothpaste - made by students living near the Mexico an area where 3.7% of the girls 17 or under get pregnant. That is the highest rate in Texas, and one of the highest in the USA.

I see huge amounts teen pregnancy and "surprise" pregnancies happening here in Mexico, as well. And as surprising as it might be to some people...I really believe that many people do NOT know about condoms, or understand their importance.

There is a huge education gap here, and it's bringing a lot of babies into this world before the mothers are ready, and before they finish their EDUCATION.

You know, I actually see billboards for condoms in Mexico City, and the marketing is totally different than it is in the US. It's a picture of a family, and it discusses the benefits of keeping your family smaller, in order to provide them a better life.

There is a huge amount of opportunity in the US Hispanic market and in Mexico to educate the population, and provide birth control and other related products and services. Additionally, lowering these pregnancy rates will allow the economy to improve, as these mothers can finish school, get better jobs, and plan their family.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Environment Series,# 1...Global warming, worse in Mexico City

I've been wanting to address the environment and Global Warming, and this seems like the perfect opportunity to start the discussion. Let me first just say that I'm freaking out about the environment. I'm in the US this week, and I just can't get over the amount of trash that is being created by Americans, in the name of convience. (I mean, individually wrapped orange wedges??) But, of course, the US is not the only to blame...we are doing it all over the world.

So even though I'd love to address a trend that is leaning towards protecting the environment (we could talk hybrids, but there is nothing new to report there), I sadly have to discuss the trend that has been created by such a mess in this warming.

I just found an article stating that the world's average temperatures have risen about 0.6 C (~1.1. F) in the past 100 years, while the temperatures of Mexico City have risen a whopping 4 C, (~7.2 F)! This rise is attributed to the removal of trees for more concrete & buildings, which affects the weather, etc. We should expect record highs & lows, and weird weather phenomenons such as floodings. They predict that over the next 20 years the temperature could increase another 2 C (3.6 F).

The fact is that even if only a few people are paying attention to the environment now...we will all be forced to look at it in the future. We NEED to support alternative energies and recycling, save forests, and anything else that we can think of to save this planet.

And I know, money talks...and getting in on this now, in any way that you can, will pay off...because soon we will have no choice!

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Instant Soups

According to an article in Mexico's newspaper El Universal, popularity of instant soups among the poor in Mexico has grown huge amounts in the past years. Governmental support programs have decided to include the instant soups in their food packages.

There is a concern about the low nutritional value of these soups. Malnutrition in children is rising, childhood obesity is also becoming a problem, and these soups don't provide the vitamins & minerals needed. Instead of urging people to eat something different, some people support the idea of making these instant soups more nutritional.

From my personal view, these soups seem to be growing more popular across the world, as people become more and more limited on time. If you look at the back of the packages, they have maybe 10 or more grams of fat in just one cup! (Despite that fact,I do buy them for my husband for emergencies if he can't leave the office for lunch...because there is really nothing else!)

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Hispanic Marketing Case Study: Publix Sabor

Well, as I mentioned, I'm currently traveling. I'm actually on vacation and at "home" visiting my family in the US. I'm from Sarasota, FL, and growing up we did not have much of a Latin influence in my city. (We are a city on the Gulf of Mexico, the other side of the state from Miami.) So much has changed since I lived here. There are various special small Latin grocery stores, a REAL tortilleria, and a weekly spanish newspaper. I went to the stores and bank today and was amazed that I heard just as much Spanish being spoken as I did English. This is such a change from just 5 or 6 years ago!

A large grocery chain in Florida is Publix, and they have been planning & developing a new store style built to attract more latino customers for about 2 years...and it has finally launched: Publix Sabor. The differences in this store and other regular Publix stores includes: bilingual signs, large perishable departments including over 50 recipes for the deli department, store layout, and bilingual staff.

According to various articles I've read the "analysts" are betting against the stores' success, stating that other companies have tried it and miserably failed. (With the exception of HEB, which would up also moving into Mexico and becoming oner of the large supermarkets in a city that I lived in: Monterrey.)

My guess? I haven't seen the store, so it's kind of a tough call for me. I'm going to bet that it's mostly going to be a marketing game here. If they figure out the right way to approach the hispanic market while at the same time being an attractive place for "gringos" to shop...they'll do all right. But I really can't predict the future on this one. I hope it does well. I think it's kind of a cool concept, and it would be nice to have a company succeed so that others have someone to learn from. In the end, I think that this might represent a general shift that we will see over time...and someone has got to get it right sooner or later!

I'll be following their progress, and we'll try to revisit this Case in a few months.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Chill-Out Music

I personally started hearing about "Chill-Out"music about a year ago. (It's called "Chill-Out" in Mexico, too.) Now I'm totally into it. For those of you not familiar, it's just cool music that you would probably hear in a lounge...nothing intrusive...just chill!

The interesting thing that I have found about this trend is that the music has actually been around for a long time...a lot of the songs that I listen to in a chill-out mix are from the early just took a while to catch on. Apparently it has European roots, but now people are creating it all over.

Check out this article on the topic.

And in other news, I'm currently traveling for the next week or so, and will be trying to keep up with my posts, but please don't abandon me, I'll be back soon! -R

Friday, May 06, 2005

Pregnancy & Ultrasound Centers

As far as I know, this is a pretty new trend...I just came across it today. Basically, in the US, these Ultrasound & Pregnancy Centers are popping up. They are not doctor's offices and do not offer medical services, but they are a place that you can go to get 3-D and 4-D images/videos of your unborn baby. They can tell you the sex of the baby, as well. In addition to these ultrasound packages that start at about $150, some of these places are retail stores for baby products as well.

All of the stores seem to use the same machine, the GE Voluson 730, which seems to start pricing at around $55,000.

It seems like it could be a great concept in a very high end market. I imagine main competition would be the doctor's office.

Check out these articles and store websites:
Article: Shop caters to expectant parents
Store in NJ: Envision Ultrasound
Store in FL: Look Who's Kickin'

Thanks for visiting...

Hi everyone, I have been getting a ton of traffic since Neville mentioned this blog on his site. I'd like to thank you for visiting, and please leave comments, thoughts, ideas...anything. I'd love to get some feedback.

Also, I'm just playing around with some advertising on the site, but if anyone thinks it's a terrible idea or ruins the site, etc...write a comment to let me know.

Thanks again for dropping by, and I hope you come back to visit again!


Thursday, May 05, 2005

Childhood Obesity

We've been hearing a lot lately about childhood obesity, and how it's become such a problem. I think that some of the reasons are obvious: diet, less exercise, etc. What is interesting, though, is to take a look at how some people are turning this into business opportunities. And the best part is, it's a win-win situation: thinner kids, and a little bit of profit for their pockets!

And don't think I'm just talking about the US here. The US is the #1 Fattest country in the world, and guess what? Mexico is #2.

So what are people doing about it?

Business Opportunity #1: Fun gyms designed for kids.
Take a look at this article where a UK Mom creates gym for video game-loving kids. They use the Playstation Bikes, which I had never heard of before, so that the kids are exercising while they play! Also using the dance pads and offer classes. And here's another story about a different kids' gym in the UK.

Business Opportunity #2: Healthy Vending Machines at schools.
Basically, some schools are trying to take out the soda and potato chips from the vending machines, and in turn they are offering "Healthy Alternatives" such as smoothies, granola bars, etc. Here is an article about a school that did it on their own and another about a Vending company that made the change.

Sending Money Home

Reading Neville's comment on my It's a bit obvious, but...blogs post, I decided that today I should focus on a trend more focused on Mexico.

In 2003, Mexico received $13.4 Billion US Dollars in Money Remittances from outside the country. Almost all of this money comes from relatives that have gone to the US to work, with the purpose of sending money home to help pay for food and other household expenses.

70% of this money is received in only 10 of the 33 states in Mexico. The top five states include: Michoacan, Jalisco, Guanajuato, Mexico, and the Distrito Federal (Mexico City). 18% of all adults in Mexico say that they are receiving money from relatives abroad.

The average deposit is $320 USD, and the cost to send is running around $13 USD for that transaction. Almost all of the money is sent electronically now, however 64% of the people receiving the money don't have bank accounts. They pick up the money at convinience stores, stores that specialize in money transfers, etc.

Mexico holds the #1 spot in the world for Amount ($$) received.

The people sending the money will typically have an education level varying from Elementary school to some High School. Their average income is $15K-25K USD, and they have plans to return to their country some day.

The sources for all of the stats that I am providing here can be found on the links on this page from the Instituto de los Mexicanos en el Exterior, and some of the documents are in English.

I once heard that the #2 income for Mexico comes from these remittances, only behind petroleum. Although I believe it would be difficult to break into the well-established market of "money sending", there are many opportunities that could be found through this trend...including helping these family members communicate with one another.

Any thoughts?

Wednesday, May 04, 2005


US: Women are willing to pay in the hundreds and thousands for a designer handbag, according to the Hottest Trend? Handbags are a shoo-in article.

Mexico: Follows a similar trend, although I personally find it hard to distinguish the originals from the knock-offs.

Cereal Mixing

I heard about a new chain of cereal stores a few months ago - Cereality, and I have to say, I think it's a fantastic idea, and I think the price is right.

The concept: Mix 2 different name brand cereals, add the toppings that you would like ("The toppings bar has everything from malted milk balls to fruits and nuts."), and milk!

I also saw a "cereal mixing" reference on the Gilmore Girls the other day.

Mexico: Cereal isn't as big here, so I don't know if the idea would take off. Although, I think that in any location full of a bunch of hungry people, low on time, could probably be turned into a success.

FedEx'ing Luggage, instead of checking-in

I heard about this during the Oscars. You know how you see photos of celebrities in the airport, but without luggage? From what I've heard, many are now sending their luggage in advance through FedEx, so as not to have issues with lost bags in baggage claim!

Up-side: I imagine that dealing with photographers, fans,'s probably easier to move around without big suitcases.

Down-side: Packing ahead. Plus, it seems a little wasteful.

LiveStrong bands

"Wear Yellow", a popular trend stemming from The Lance Armstrong Foundation

Mexico: Almost every other person under the age of 30 is wearing the "original" Live Strong bracelet, or one of the different colored "copycat" versions.

US: I imagine the trend is the same. It's funny how something that started out as awareness & charity turns into fashion.

More than 40 million LIVESTRONG wristbands have been sold.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Tongue Cleaners

Don't know what a Tongue Cleaner is?

These things have been around forever. I think they must have originated in India, because all of my Indian friends have used these their whole lives.

In the past month I have seen these recommended on Queer Eye for the Straight Guy and Emergency Makeover as solutions for bad breath and lowering bacteria.

These things are so cheap to make, and with the right marketing can really go far. I'm not convinced that anyone is really doing the right marketing on these things yet. If anyone is interested, I think I have a supplier/connection in India where they make them. I've been thinking of jumping on the opportunity myself.

Mexico: Unheard of. Would love to bring it here.


US: I'm suddenly reading all over the place about Podcasting. And, you know, since Paris Hilton is doing it, I'm sure we'll be hearing even more about it in the future! I, however, do not have an iPod or any other kind of portable music I can't really comment.

Mexico: I've only seen one person in Mexico with an iPod, but I'm sure there are more! Just saw an ad in a magazine for them recently. I'm sure we won't be too far behind on this one.


China's hot. According to just about everyone, including my former employer, Jeff Immelt. I trust Jeff...a lot of my retirement savings is riding on it!

I'm trying to get into investing...trying to figure out where to put my money, etc. According to Slate: Go Work in China, Immediately. But don't buy any stocks from there. But about a gzillion China Stock blogs would tell you differently!

I'm still trying to figure it out...

Mexico: Tends to be very upset with China, because a lot of the work that was formerly sent to Mexico started to go to China a couple of years ago. End result seems to be that if it is, for example, assembly of something that would be very expensive to ship, or needs a short turn around time, we will still get the business...because China is just to far away.

Oh well, that's economics, folks!

Super Cheap DVDs

US: What's up with the wide assortment of DVDs available for $5 USD and under? My husband & I, who are bargain hunters, used to have a price limit of $10 for DVDs. But new prices mean new limits, and we have dropped it to $5!

Mexico: Still not seeing anything like this happening here.


(Note: I noticed that my previous posts were too long...I never read that much. I will be trying to switch to a more brief post.)

I'm addicted to Skype. Being in Mexico, I used to be so disconnected from my friends & family, because all of us were way too cheap to pay international long distance. I now use it to make personal & business calls, and I use the SkypeOut paid service for really cheap rates. And I would have bought SkypeIn, but they don't offer the area code I'm interested in yet.

US: All signs point to the idea that this will be the new way we talk. It won't be long.

Mexico: Seems like we might have some trouble really getting on the VoIP bandwagon, according to: Mexico telephone operator under VoIP fire.

It's a bit obvious, but...Blogs

I've been following blogs for probably about a month an a half now. Apparently I'm way late in the game, since it was 2004: Big Year for Blogs. Now I have to say, I have a personal blog, to help keep my family & friends updated, etc. I am by far the first person of anyone I know to have any sort of blog. Since I use MSN Spaces, most of them think it's just a new kind of online photo album. (Although I have to say that for ease of use, I love Spaces.)

US: Everyone is trying to figure how to use blogs to make money. I mean, that's what it's all about, right? When Business Week published Blogs Will Change Your Business last week, everyone was all over it. But we have yet to see the true impact of blogs. Like many new trends, there will be many blogs that are created and deserted the following day, but there are some that will survive and be amazingly useful.

I have kept my Favorite Blogs section rather short right now, because although I am following more than 20 blogs right now, I really only look forward to a small portion of the posts. Okay, well I haven't said anything new here that hasn't been said a million times in the past.

Mexico: The trend is just starting up here, and probably 99.99% of the population couldn't tell you what a blog is here. It will catch on more quickly here with the kids. Check out the links on the sidebar to Blog Directories, and compare the entries in the US version to the Mexico version. We're just getting started. Interesting read:Slowly coming to grips with international blogs from Business Week.

...Slightly off the topic: I'm currently starting a business here that relies on the internet for all of the purchases, and I am one of the very few in Mexico that will offer this. The culture here is becoming more internet savvy, but internet purchases are still not at all common. (Something you must know about doing business in Mexico is that the mail service is completely unreliable, so if you need to send anything, even a letter, it needs to go through a service such as FedEx. This really increases costs for a lot of businesses, and makes other business models from the US difficult to implement here.) And although Mexico is behind in everything "e", don't be surprised when they catch up soon. Telmex (Telefonos de Mexico) offers broadband service, restaurants around Mexico now offer wireless access, and even if people don't have internet at home, internet cafes are abundant and busy.

Trendy Tendencias

My name is Rebecca, I am a 27 year old American residing in Mexico. I have lived in Mexico for 3 years with my husband, who is Mexican. I now live in my 3rd city in this country, so I have seen various mini-cultures. And finally, hablo español.

I have various goals in creating this blog:
  1. Create a discussion around trends that I am noticing, both in the US & Mexico.
  2. Find opportunity in the marketplace. I find that many trends that hit the US can be adjusted slightly for cultural aspects and (hopefully) successfully brought to Mexico.
  3. Have readers that are actually living in the US point out trends that they are seeing. I live in Mexico, and am very "e" connected to the US, but I'm sure I still miss out on a lot of "pop culture".
  4. Continue to practice my blogging skills, as BLOGS are one of the biggest trends out there right now.

Please comment on anything and everything. Point out things I have missed. Let me know if you agree or disagree. And of course, I'm always open to meet new people and discuss potential opportunities.