Mexico is a country of 121 million people with a literacy rate of 94%. Despite this, Mexicans traditionally have not been big readers. In 2006, the annual average was around 2.9 books read per head. But that’s changing—the latest figures for 2015 show Mexicans reading 5.3 books annually.
Driving this change are those under 25. Mexico’s demographics are shifting, with an increase in young professionals who are college educated. The number of college graduates totalled more than half a million in the period 2013-2014 and has been rising year-on-year since. There has always been a strong link in Mexico between education, purchasing power, and reading, and so these younger professionals can drive growth in the market not just for educational books but leisure reading too.
While Mexico is the 11th-largest economy in the world, its economic situation is uncertain. The country’s income is based on oil, and the global downturn in oil prices means the Mexican economy is slowing down. Nielsen’s Global Confidence Index shows a three point decrease in consumer confidence from the first quarter of 2016 to second-quarter.
Despite the larger uncertainty in the country’s economy, Mexico’s book market is mature and expanding. There is now more emphasis on an open market and less on the federal government, which currently has a 60% market share. The trade market is set to grow, with many more retail outlets for books now available. The traditional bookstores of Porrua (established 1900), El Sotano, Gandhi, Gonvil, and the state-owned Fondo de Cultura Economica are joined by department stores and supermarkets—including Sanbornes, Liverpool, Walmart, and Costco—where the consumer experience is quite different.
Gandhi, one of the country’s largest bookstore chains, has 34 stores but also has points of sale [franchises] in department stores and supermarkets. Alberto Achar, Gandhi’s Marketing Manager told Publishing Perspectives, his aim is “To make Mexico a country of bookstores.” Online retailers’ presence in the country is also growing, since Amazon entered the market in 2015.
While the number of outlets for shoppers is on the rise, the publisher mix in Mexico remains quite concentrated—there are over 200 publishers, but 29 large publishers produce 80% of all books. However, Mexico is the largest Spanish speaking country in the world (Spain itself is third, behind the U.S.), and publishers around the world are looking to Mexico as the gateway to other Latin American markets.
Currently, measurement of the marketplace is done by CANIEM (Cámara Nacional de la Industria Editorial Mexicana), Secretaria de Cultura, and other commissioned reports, which give a very firm and accurate measure of the state of the market at a point in time. With more publishers looking to enter the market, however, there is a need from publishers and retailers to have independent, up-to-date, and current market information.
In countries around the world, including the U.S., U.K., Spain, and Brazil, this type of market data is available from Nielsen Book. In late 2016, Nielsen will be launching Nielsen BookScan Mexico. This will be the 11th country where Nielsen Book has independent reporting of trade sales, which it collects directly from retailers’ points of sale systems. Weekly market measurement allows retailers to understand their product mix in relation to the whole market, as well as the gaps within genres and series, and accurately report on their own market share. Publishers can measure their share within genres and look at the effects of marketing and promotions independently this information informs their planning and helps with author and retail negotiations.
Traditionally, in the markets where Nielsen BookScan operates, the very fact that retailers, publishers, distributors, and wholesalers have access to the same independent sales data creates ‘a common currency.’ This enables a better flow of information, which informs business decisions and helps the trade to work more efficiently.
*CANIEM, Indicators for Private Publishing Sector in Mexico.