This morning, Alison and I decided to get up early and go to a café to write in our journals. The breakfast was amazing along with my hot chocolate. It tastes so different than in the U.S.! While sitting here, I made some general observations.
The fashion style here in Argentina fascinates me. Even though it is extremely hot our right now, most of the people here are wearing long pants and a button down shirt. There are men in suits and I just wonder how they can survive in this heat!
Traffic is once again crazy as usual. I have noticed something about the meals though. They take an extremely long time because they don’t want you to feel like you’re in a rush. You have to ask for a bill (versus them just sitting it on the table for you to pay). There are almost always complimentary items with the meals too. They sometimes include service charges, which is basically a prepaid tip.
During the late morning, we did a marketing experiment where we broke up into different groups and went to the mall (Gallaria Pacifico) to observe marketing and advertising differences and the general public.
We found that the summer is the busiest time of the year (their summer, our winter) because there is a lot of tourism and it is the Christmas season. There were a lot of boutiques in the mall instead of larger shopping centers, such as a Dillards. They were not jammed pack full of items but instead cleanly put together where you could actually see the clothing items. Make-up centers were located in the center of the mall instead of in larger department stores. There were many kiosk centers throughout the center of the mall but they were all very, very clean and the employees didn’t hassle you to come toward them.
The layout of the shopping mall was different too. The kiosks somewhat cut you off so you have to walk around them and see all of the different stores. It really is a genius idea because you are bound to stop into a store you wouldn’t have originally gone into. Our group also noticed the division of labor at the mall. One person would greet you, one would check you out and another person would wrap the gift for you. Each person had their specific duty. This was more prevalent in South America than I have personally experienced in the U.S.
The prices for the various items were displayed clearly in the store windows and many of the stores had discount signs if you used either a store card or a certain credit card. We saw that VISA was a popular card in South America. One thing that I really liked was that tax was included into the price of the item. I wish we woul duse this in the U.S. Many of the stores we found were also stores that you would find the U.S., such as Nike, Starbucks, Tommy Hilfiger, Lacoste, Bobbi Brown, Swarvoski, MAC, and Levis.
Our group went into the Nike store to check out the prices. The shoes were 800 – 900 pesos, so they were slightly more than they are in the U.S. The women’s running shorts, however, were 120 pesos, so they were slightly less. On average, the prices were very similar to those found in the U.S. The entire Nike store was also focused around futbol. Obviously Nike realized that they needed to change their store format to fit their customer’s needs. They even had a La Boca section in the store!
We also found a lot of leather within the shopping mall, which makes sense because Argentina is such a big beef producer. They also had a new 3D TV’s in the mall! Freaky! There was a lot of 80’s American music playing in the background.
We decided to go into a shop that we had never heard of called “Etiqueta Negra.” It is in the U.S. too but only in large cities. We saw women shopping for men’s clothing, so we could only conclude that they were buying items for their husbands or boyfriends. There were pinks at the front of the store especially in the men’s section. The men like nice, finer clothing and aren’t afraid of wearing feminine designs or colors. It was a very high end store and the prices were similar to those that you would find in the U.S.
We found a lot of European brands at the shopping center and they were all very sophisticated. I didn’t see any sweats besides work out clothes. Everything is getting you ready to look your finest. They had familiar items, such as Ray Ban glasses and Blackberrys, which I thought was interesting. The ash trays were stamped so we knew we were in a more sophisticated mall. We found that the more expensive stores were typically painted white or black and had soft music in the background while the cheaper stores had prices clearly displayed in the windows with how much you would save and they played loud music in the background. The window displays were also very elaborate as well to draw the customers in.
Tourists could get a card in order to get tax free items up to 20% because the tax in Argentina is about 21%. If you are a tourist, typically you can get that money back if you keep the receipt and talk to the customs department when you get back to your own country. One thing that I noticed was that the natives had their cell phones put away. When you are in the U.S. everyone is on their cell phones and they typically don’t talk to the other people they are with. Everyone came there as a social experience and to enjoy their time with others.
There were a lot of security guards throughout the mall and some of the stores had their own security guards at the front of them. We also noticed that a lot of the stores were located in multiple places throughout the mall, but maybe they carried different things. I thought this was interesting because maybe they were trying to get you to come into at least one of them if maybe you skipped the first store.
I did notice a few different things. Since it is still Christmas time, I thought I would see Santa there but instead they had a giant Christmas tree and three older gentlemen acting as the three wise men. This was a common trend. They focus more on the nativity than the image of Santa. We also saw a Subway and noticed that they didn’t have a $5 footlong! Say what?? They also used Styrofoam cups and had pastries available as well has cookies.
We learned from a local store owner that the natives use credit cards 90% of the times in the stores and only tourists really use cash money. They have experienced a drop off in sales now that Christmas is over. The toy store in the shopping mall said that they sold a lot of water based toys for Christmas. They have a ton of Disney toys and their most popular toy at this point in time is the “Tell me who I am” game, which we guessed was like the American game “Guess Who?” Their gift wrapping services are also free throughout the year but it is outside the store so only those who buy something can get it wrapped. The various shopping stores really do focus on quality and service. They want you to have an enjoyable experience and feel like you were treated well.
I thought the mall was interesting because they were selling a lifestyle, not just clothes. You want to be able to have a life like the ones the clothes represent. It was definitely a higher-end shopping mall and a lot different than the open market on Florida street.
Three wise men in front of the Christmas tree.
The use of American movie stars with these national brands.
Huge Christmas tree in the mall
La Boca section of the Nike store
After our experiment we went back to the hotel and went on the bus to the airport. We had only about an hour wait but it was very nice. Airport security went really quickly and we didn’t have to take off our shoes and such. We are flying off to Mendoza and I am very exceited.
Here are some general things I noticed about Buenos Aires:
• The city has beautiful European architecture.
• There was a lot of trash in the streets, ton of quick traffic and mucho honking!
• People dressed sophisticated all day long. The clothes were light but very nice. At night, all the clothing was very tight and short.
• There was a lot of music I recognized. Celine Dion was a favorite and there were a lot of common pop songs.
• Cell phones weren’t usually out in public. I didn’t see any iPhones but I saw Samsung, Motorola, and Blackberry phones. Personal was also a popular brand.
• People greeted each other always smiling and they typically would kiss on the cheek or shake hands.
• Many people spoke English, even in the open market places.
• I was amazed at the amount of hand-made items. Almost everything I saw was unique and it was amazing to speak with the people who spent so much time on it.
• The heat was not bad at all.
• A lot of American brands were there but they adapted to their market. Ex: Nike was present but they only really had soccer gear and a few running shoes. They didn’t carry hardly any basketball or baseball gear.
Adios Buenos Aires! Hola Mendoza!
These were some of my general observations from our short bus ride to our hotel:
• It is desert like (like Arizona)
• It is one of the oldest cities in Argentina
• There are many canals throughout the city and fresh ice water flows through them (safe to drink).
• There are no natural trees here. They are all artificially planted.
• 2 million population
• St. Martin gave them freedom in South America so you’ll see his name everywhere.
• TONS of stray dogs ☹
We arrived in Mendoza and it is so different than Buenos Aires. It is a lot more relaxed of a place. We went to dinner as a a group which was really nice. There was live music and we got to sit outside and enjoy the nice weather. We had a lot of children come up to us throughout the evening asking for money. They would also grab the scraps off of the table once people left. It was heartbreaking. We had a lot of stray dogs also come up to the table so naturally I decided to name them all. Francisco, Buddy, Frank and Pablo—the gang was all there! We had a beautiful meal and saw some of the dogs fight over food which broke my heart. I threw out a few pieces of meat to different sides so they could all get some. The only problem with that is that then they follow you home and want to be your friends. It is heartbreaking—I wanted to take them all home!
A small group of us went for drinks after at a place called Setters which was a lot of fun. We just chatted away and then went home. Tomorrow we will be going to wine country! I can’t wait.