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PR in Ecuador – Our Story
Many international companies are doing big business in Latin America. But, companies and entrepreneurs should not be naïve when expanding to neighbouring countries in the region. One size does not fit all. There are regional cultural nuances that mean what works in Peru will not necessarily hold water in Buenos Aires.
Opportunities are rife in Ecuador. To do well, companies should engage an Ecuador PR agency, in order to successfully navigate the peculiarities of doing business in one of the largest economies in South America.
Sherlock Communications is your Ecuador PR agency. With teams of local experts dotted all around Latin America, our international award-winning PR experts will advise and guide investors through the maze of risks and benefits associated with doing business in Ecuador.
Don’t learn the hard way, and waste money by launching a product or business innovation without knowing how it will be received. Rather, make informed decisions based on expert local insight.
Nestled between Colombia and Peru, Ecuador is a country with a long history, and was the original home of many Amerindian groups, before colonisation by the Spanish in the 16th century. While Spanish is still the official language, there are more than a dozen indigenous languages also recognised in this land of the Incas.
Nowadays, Ecuador is a relatively peaceful nation, and has most biodiversity per square kilometre in the world, as well as boasting the fifth lowest homicide rate in the Americas. The country is divided into four main geographic regions: The “coast” accounts for the country’s most fertile lands, and most of Ecuador’s rice is grown in this region; in the “highlands” where Ecuador boasts snow-capped and volcanic peaks, quinoa and potatoes are the native crop; the “east” region accounts for Ecuador’s jungles or Amazon region, mostly comprised of national parks and indigenous reserves (as well as large petroleum reserves); and the “insular region” refers to the Galápagos islands region, located more than 600 miles west of the mainland.
With a local economy that is largely dependent on commodities markets (mining, agriculture, fishing), Ecuador is considered a high middle-income country, with an economy that shows continuous growth, often bucking trends seen in neighbouring countries. Ecuador is the world’s largest banana producer and exporter, and also provides flowers and cocoa for the export market. The tourism market continues to grow as government initiatives showcase the unique biodiversity of the land.
Ecuador is home to more than 1500 types of bird and 4,500 distinct butterfly types. Most of the local flora and fauna are protected in national parks in the country’s “east” region. More than 16 million people live in Ecuador, with more than 70% considered Mestizo (descendants of mixed relationships between Spanish settlers and Amerindian people). A big influx of European immigrants at the turn of the 20th century holds the demographic of “white people” at around 6%, while indigenous people account for another 7%, as do afro-Ecuadorians. 22% of Ecuadorian girls marry while they are still teenagers, as local laws allow girls to marry from the age of 12, and boys from the age of 14.
The Media Landscape
Media ownership and coverage are split between the cities of Quito and Guayaquil. There are five national TV stations, Ecuavusa and Teleamazonas holding the biggest market share in terms of news reporting. Gamavision is the go-to for telenovelas (soap operas), while Telesistema is the home of game shows, and comedy. Telecentro is a popular channel, that mixes popular programming with news coverage.
Hundreds of radios stations dotted regionally around the country are the main source of news and information for huge swathes of Ecuadorians, living in rural locations. Religious radio broadcasting is popular in the predominantly Catholic country.
Broadsheet print media is taken care in Quito by El Comercio, and Hoy; while in Quayaquil, the main print publications are El Universo and El Telégrafo (which includes an English news summary). Extra is the biggest tabloid and delivers news in that unique style from a base in Quayaquil.
The Online Landscape
As internet speeds and connectivity improve, 79% of Ecuadorians are online, and 71% are active social media users. Of 13.5 million internet users, 12.35 go online using mobile devices, a big shift from only two years ago when a majority accessed the web using a laptop or desktop computer.
With a population of 17 million people, 12 million are active social media users, mostly using their mobile phone. Facebook is the social media of choice for Ecuadorians and boasts more than three times as many active monthly users, as Instagram’s 3.9 million. Snapchat has 1.1 million monthly users, LinkedIn has 2.2 million, while Twitter only has 790,000 active monthly users in Ecuador. While Facebook no longer shows growth in penetration, both Instagram and LinkedIn have shown improved participation, while Snapchat and Twitter continue to shed monthly users.
87% of the population has a phone subscription, with 74% opting to pre-pay rather than receive a monthly bill. 94% of mobile phone subscriptions in Ecuador in 2017 had broadband functionality, a marked improvement on two years ago when just over half offered this service.
Only 4.1% of women have credit cards in Ecuador, compared to 13% of men, and these trends are echoed in statistics related to online shopping. 5% of women shop online, while 15% of men do.
Despite a disappointing end of 2018, when the economy finished the final fiscal quarter with its weakest performance in two years, 2019 started out well, with oil production giving a needed boost to the economy, as subsidies were removed on gas and fuel (except for public transport).
Ecuador’s inclusion in early 2017 in an EU-Andean Trade Agreement (with neighbours Peru and Colombia) greatly reduced tariffs and boosted trade specifically with the UK (increased by 70% from 2016 – 2017). The impact of a 2019 Presidential decision to pull out of UNASUR (Union of South American Nations) is not yet known.
Ecuador recently availed of a USD$4.2 billion “Extended Fund Facility” from the IMF, to support the implementation of the country’s new economic plan, which is based on four pillars: strengthen institutional foundations of dollarisation (Ecuador has the USD as currency, so cannot depend on exchange rates to boost export competitiveness); create jobs and boost competitiveness (reviewing tax laws and encouraging private investment); protect the poor and most vulnerable in society, and promote shared wealth (including bigger spend on health and education, ultimately improving the quality of the workforce; improved transparency and fortified fight against corruption (anti-corruption legislation, and development of national risk assessment tools to combat money laundering).
Setting up a business in Ecuador is relatively easy, with many opting to set up a local branch of an existing international entity. To build a premises is much more complicated, and 17 separate procedures must be followed. This does not come cheap, and will take a minimum of 4 months to complete. Companies are obliged by local law to have a lawyer in order to register a property, a frustrating and time consuming process.
While corruption is a problem in Ecuador, as in many neighbouring countries, efforts are increasing to prevent dodgy transactions. Diligence is advised when doing business, or getting ready to do business in Ecuador, as regulatory frameworks gain greater momentum.
As in most Latin American cultures, personal connections and networks are vital for good business. That’s not to condone corruption, but Ecuadorians will not do business with people they don’t trust. Many European traits of straight talking, for example, can come across as rude or aggressive in Quito, and not will serve the foreigner well. Many international entrepreneurs side-step this by engaging with a local partner, or an Ecuador PR agency, to ensure cultural faux pas’ are avoided. Get a good local contacts base as soon as possible, this will save so much time and money along the path to success in Ecuador.
While business is conducted in Spanish, it’s vital that newcomers have trusted fluent English speakers watching their back. There are lots of decisions to be taken while setting up a company locally, and it’s important that each step along the way is fully understood. Likewise, become fully comfortable with labour laws and taxation before hiring staff. It’s easy to hire, but much more difficult to fire. Ecuadorian staff are entitled to an additional month salary at the end of the year, and an extra fortnights pay in August.
Ecuadorian partners may arrive late to meetings. Don’t waste your time (or your reputation) by getting upset about this. It’s pretty common practice in the region. But, don’t be tempted to follow the trend. Arrive on time for all engagements, and factor their likely tardiness into your agenda. Factor in this lax attitude around timekeeping when billing too – ensure that late payment penalties are clearly understood (and legal).
The Capital – Quito
Nestled in the Andes mountain range, at 2,850 metres above sea level, Ecuador’s capital city is the second highest city in the world and the one which sits closest to the equator. Constructed on the ruins of an ancient Incan city, Quito’s historic centre is one of the best preserved in all of the Americas (UNESCO World Heritage Site), and a visit to the city is a guaranteed delight for history lovers. Look in the distance to see Cotopaxi, the worlds 2nd largest active volcano, visible on a clear day from vantage lookout points in the city.
Quito is the business centre of Ecuador, and national and international banks and companies generally have their headquarters in the capital city, that is home to a wide array of museums, and several universities. As many countries have two cities that rival for “cool factor”, so does Ecuador. While Quito is the capital city, filled with parks and historic buildings, Guayaquil is the bigger port city and enjoys a more tropical climate and laid-back vibe than Quito.
Altitude in Quito can take some getting used to, and sun rays are particularly potent due to the elevation of the city. Biggest industries in the region include textiles, agriculture and metals. As in many coffee producing countries in Latin America, the good stuff is exported, and many visitors are surprised that the daily dose of coffee doesn’t taste better in Quito.
If you would like to learn more about PR in Ecuador, find out how Sherlock Communications can help you meet your business objectives in Ecuador or simply have an informal chat do call or drop us a line:
+55 11 3817 5852
Rua Mourato Coelho Nº 923, Pinheiros, São Paulo – SP – Brasil, 05417-011