The Varied Regional Buying Patterns of Mexico’s Consumers

The Varied Regional Buying Patterns of Mexico’s Consumers

Fabiola de la Portilla, Account Director, Nielsen Mexico

With a population of more than 112 million people and an area about three times the size of Texas, Mexico is a vast country.  As the second most populous country in Latin America and the most populous Spanish-speaking country in the world, it is a vital market for marketers and consumer packaged goods companies to understand.  But to view Mexico’s consumers as uniform in their shopping habits and trends would be a mistake: consumption patterns vary widely based on where people live.  Retailers and CPG manufacturers seeking to win in this diverse nation would do well to appreciate its regional diversity.

On a national basis, the average Mexican consumer belongs to a medium sized family (between 4-5 members) with low to modest purchasing power largely wielded by a head of household who has no formal job outside of the home.  However, there are stark and important regional differences in both household composition and consumption behavior throughout the country.

When it comes to income, there seems to be a great divide:  The northern half of the country has higher income and in turn, purchasing power, since women tend to work outside of the home in addition to raising families; in the southern half, income levels are generally lower.  Consumers in the North, Pacific, and Lowlands regions of Mexico tend to have above-average purchasing power and live in households where the homemaker generally has a formal job.  In the Valley of Mexico and in the Central and Southeast regions, consumers have much lower levels of income and purchasing power.


Nielsen research and analysis identified certain similarities in consumption behaviors between certain regions with geographical proximity to one another: between the Pacific and North regions, which border the United States, and the Lowlands and Central Mexico. Consumption patterns in both the Valley of Mexico and the Southeast, meanwhile, tend to show significant differences compared to the rest of the country.

While the majority of the country’s population is concentrated in the Valley of Mexico region – which is dominated by Mexico City – consumers in the Pacific, North and Southeast regions tend to spend more money per household than the average consumer in the Valley.

Retail Channels and Shopping Frequency

With respect to retail channels, traditional stores remain resoundingly prominent throughout the country.  This is especially true in the Lowlands and Central Mexico, where alternative channels have not yet grown as much as in other regions.  Convenience stores and small-format supermarkets are most popular in the Pacific-North areas.  Large-format supermarkets, on the other hand, play a bigger role in the Valley of Mexico and in the Southeast than in the rest of the country, although the other regions are catching up.

Channel Pacific North Lowlands Central Valley of Mexico Southeast
Big Supermarkets:  26% 26% 26% 20% 24% 30% 27%
Traditional: 42.9% 35% 40% 47% 48% 44% 35%
Convenience Stores Small-Format Supermarkets: 8.2% 17.7% 14.1% 6.7% 4.5% 3.1% 6.2%

In all regions, traditional stores are visited on a daily basis—and sometimes twice a day.  The typical consumer visits the supermarket twice weekly, with Sunday the most popular shopping day.  Shopping during the week is most prevalent in the Pacific-North and Southeast areas.

Shopping Day Pacific North Lowlands Central Valley of Mexico Southeast
Big Supermarkets – Sunday Tuesday Tuesday Sat/Sun Sat/Sun Sunday Wednesday