Mexico Culture of Business

By | July 24, 2022

Subchapters:

  • Introduction
  • Addressing
  • Business Meeting
  • Communication
  • Recommendations
  • Public holidays

Introduction

The Mexican market is quite tough and uncompromising when it comes to competition. Mexican merchants primarily trade with US partners, so they are experienced in establishing themselves in the North American market, including all standard business practices. Although business ethics are increasingly approaching the standards valid in Europe and the USA, Czech entrepreneurs may encounter a number of peculiarities resulting from different cultural and social conditions and business practices.

Addressing

Initial contact in Mexico is relatively formal, both written communication and personal meeting are accompanied by a great deal of politeness. The address begins with an abbreviation for Mr./Mrs. (Sr./Sra.), followed by the first or both surnames. Mexicans, like a number of other Hispanophone nations, have two surnames by law – one after the father, the other after the mother (e.g. Carlos Fuentes Macías). Often, however, only one is used in the address, in the overwhelming majority the first one after the first name (Sr. Fuentes). The initial address is always in the form of an exhortation. In subsequent negotiations and correspondence, only the first name is often used, and in the Czech context, the first name is also used earlier. In certain professions, it is possible to encounter more frequent use of academic titles – medicine (Dr.), technical professions (Arq., Ing.), advocacy (Abg.), teaching (Prof.), etc.

Business meeting

It is a good idea to request an appointment at least a few days in advance, however confirmation often comes just before the date of the meeting. It is good to make the initial contact in writing – depending on the nature of the matter by letter or e-mail, but subsequent confirmation of the meeting by telephone is usually necessary. Communication is often conducted using the extended WhatsApp application.

Meetings usually take place in the company’s office, after getting to know each other better, you can count on an invitation to lunch. An offer to pay the expenses will be appreciated, but given that the Czech company is in the position of a guest, most Mexicans will insist on being paid by them. Gifts are welcome but not expected. Handing over business cards is a standard part of getting to know each other.

  • PaulSourcing: Tips and recommendations for doing business with Mexico. Also includes country basic data and information for entering the its market.

Timing of the meeting
When timing the meeting, different working hours and a late and long lunch break (approx. 14:00 – 17:00) must be taken into account. The first meetings are usually arranged for 9:30, meetings in the evening are no exception. Despite the widespread notion of time flexibility, it is a good idea to arrive on time for a pre-arranged meeting, Mexicans are surprisingly punctual when it comes to work. Especially in the capital, you have to take into account the unpredictable traffic situation, where the same journey can take 15 minutes or even 2 hours. Minor delays due to the traffic situation are therefore mostly tolerated.

What surprises a Czech businessman the most during negotiations?
Although business ethics are increasingly approaching the standards valid in Europe and the USA, Czech entrepreneurs may encounter a number of peculiarities that result from different cultural and social conditions and business practices. Among the most striking are:

  1. the importance of personal contacts – you cannot sell the best product in Mexico without a partner who is well-versed and connected in the industry;
  2. personal zone – Mexicans are very communicative, a hug is a standard part of the greeting;
  3. opening courtesies – Mexico is known, even among other Latin American countries, for its short polite conversation that precedes the actual topic of discussion, directness can be considered rude;
  4. family as a topic of business negotiations – the family is a very important social phenomenon in Mexico and often becomes the topic of “small talk” during negotiations;
  5. evasiveness in dealings – a polite form of communication forces Mexicans to avoid direct rejection or criticism (perhaps it is often used in the sense of no);
  6. hierarchy – in Mexico it is fairly strictly observed, the level of reception corresponds to the level of visit;
  7. corruption – unfortunately, corruption is still present, especially in the state sector.

What are Mexican traders like?
The Mexican market is quite tough and uncompromising when it comes to competition. Mexican merchants primarily trade with US partners, so they are experienced in establishing themselves in the North American market, including all standard business practices. Preparation for entering the local market should therefore be thorough and well thought out. A frequently used, and almost inevitable, market entry model is in the first stage in cooperation with an agent/distributor or a partner company (e.g. on the basis of an agency agreement or joint-venture), and in the second stage, if the cooperation develops, the establishment of a Mexican legal entities.

Is negotiating with local traders different, made difficult by cultural/religious/ethnic differences?
It is certainly necessary to take into account the gradual development of business negotiations, whether during personal negotiations, but also afterwards during the implementation of a business case. Although Mexico is predominantly Catholic, you will not encounter religious expressions/differences in the business world. In addition, it is still possible to observe a lower representation of women in decision-making positions, as well as frequent social and ethnic divisions within professions.

How do Mexican businessmen manage time in a business meeting?
In Mexico, even with the politeness parts of the conversation described above, business negotiations can be lengthy. Courtesy topics help Mexicans get to know their partner and establish an important personal relationship with them, so it is good to be patient when dealing with them. However, if the partner is prepared in advance that the Czech counterpart only has a certain amount of time for negotiations for objective reasons, it is possible to complete the negotiations in a shorter time.

How do Mexican businessmen deal with emotions in business negotiations?
Mexicans are mostly warm, open people. In business negotiations, however, their demeanor does not differ much from European businessmen.

Are there any territorial differences in trade negotiations within the country (North x South, Provinces)?
The differences in business dealings between the city and the province are similar to other countries. In the region, one can expect less experience with foreign trade, less knowledge of English, but more warmth and a personal approach. At the same time, a more “Latin American” (more relaxed) approach can be observed in the south of the country and a more business-savvy approach in the cities and in the north of the country. In the regions, it is also necessary to take into account stronger interpersonal ties of influential people, with the positives and negatives that this can have for a Czech company.

It is suitable or customary to offer alcohol during business meetings?
The relationship to alcohol in the framework of business relations is very similar to that in the Czech Republic, it does not belong to business meetings, but it does to a reasonable extent to subsequent social activities (dinners, receptions).

How to dress for a work meeting?
For business meetings, formal clothing is expected, a suit with a tie is suitable, or costume. A certain flamboyance and quality in dressing can be assessed as a good credit rating of a partner. Depending on the climatic conditions, it is possible to wear the so-called guayabera, a local decorative shirt.

Communication

Is it important to bring an interpreter with you?
The official language of Mexico is Spanish, which is preferred in business negotiations, although many business partners also speak English. Minor mistakes are tolerantly overlooked and the effort to learn Spanish is appreciated. However, for meetings at a higher level, it is recommended to use the services of an interpreter, who can also be recommended by the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Mexico. Spanish is also appreciated for business cards and business materials.

How about language facilities?
Most of the senior management (private and public sector) can speak English at least at a conversational level, many of them studied in the USA. At the lower level, English is only basic or not at all. This also applies to regions of Mexico where the proportion of English-speaking traders is even lower. It is therefore necessary to be prepared for the fact that the partner prefers to speak in Spanish with interpretation.

Are there any communication taboos?
We certainly don’t want to put our Mexican counterpart in an uncomfortable situation, so the standard lesson about avoiding topics such as politics, religion or personal financial situation also applies in Mexico. Visit Calculatorinc for more information about Mexico culture and traditions.

What is the best way to communicate (in person, email, phone, etc.)?
As in the case of other remote territories of countries, Mexico is not a country in which one can expect to establish business contacts or to implement business cases simply by sending an offer and a company presentation to selected companies from the field. If you are interested in the Mexican market, you must expect a certain initial investment, long-term efforts and the need to be physically present on the market often. It is good to make the initial contact in writing – depending on the nature of the matter by letter or e-mail, but subsequent confirmation of receipt of the letter by telephone is a necessity. A personal meeting is almost inevitable for establishing a first contact. Further communication is often conducted via e-mail and the extended WhatsApp application, even within the state administration.

What should an ideal negotiation team look like (number of members, age and gender composition of the team, team leader)?
Ideally, it should consist of a sales director and at least one technical employee who is able to provide detailed information on the technical details of the product being offered. The age and gender composition of the team does not play a fundamental role (with exceptions – e.g. the defense sector).

It is customary to invite a business partner to your home, or be invited home?
If so, what is usual for such a visit, what to expect? In Mexico, it is common for the partner to assure the Czech representative that his house is also his home during the first meeting. Although the first meeting is more of a figurative expression of hospitality, as part of well-established business cooperation in Mexico, invitations to dinner at home, for example, arrive earlier than is customary in the Czech Republic.

Recommendation

In addition to the standard lessons for successful business negotiations in the case of Mexico, we recommend:

  • The Mexican market with more than 120 million inhabitants, roughly half of whom belong to the middle class, offers interesting applications for Czech products and services. It is a mature and highly competitive market. Entry into the Mexican market should therefore be supported by a detailed market mapping and business strategy. A considerable initial time and financial investment must be reckoned with.
  • In order to enter the market, it is crucial to find a reliable partner – an agent/distributor or a partner company (e.g. based on an agency or joint-venture agreement) in the first phase. He should have knowledge of the given industry, good contacts and a decent position in the market.
  • Establish a solid personal relationship with Mexican partners (find out their hobbies, family conditions, invite them to the Czech Republic, etc.).

Public Holidays

January 1 – New Year’s Day
February 5 – Constitution Day
February 24 – Flag Day
March 21 – President Benito Juárez’s Birth Anniversary
May 1 – Labor Day
September 16 – Independence Day
November 20 – Revolution Day
December 25 – Christmas

If the holiday falls on a weekend, it is often moved to Monday of the following week. The following holidays are also celebrated (even if they are not official holidays): Easter (Thursday, Friday), November 2 – Day of the Dead, December 12 – St. Guadalupe, December 24 – Christmas Day.

Mexico Culture of Business