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Selling & Marketing Your Products

Selling & Marketing Your Products

Here is how to effectively market and sell your products in Costa Rica:

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Adjust Your Expectations to Fit the Market:

Foreign companies, especially those in the U.S. and other larger markets, must be willing to make smaller sales to Costa Rican companies than they may be accustomed to making in other, larger export markets.

Most foreign companies use Costa Rica as a base to sell their products to all of Latin America, a projected market of 916 million people (2150 estimate).  Or, concentrate sales in Central America, a projected market of 87.5 million people (2050 estimate).

Consider the Needs of Costa Rican Consumers:

Costa Rican citizens' purchasing decisions are based on comparisons of price, quality, technical specifications, convenience and the availability of local product support or after sale service.

Price Your Products Appropriately:

Products must be priced competitively.

Build Strong Relationships with Costa Rican Trade Partners:

Personal contact and relationships are the key to successful sales in Costa Rica. Thus, it is important that you meet and maintain contact with the Costa Rican companies that you do business with.

Foreign company representatives should maintain frequent contact between visits by calling, sending faxes, mail, and/or e-mail, and travel to Costa Rica periodically to meet with their customers and partners. e 

Provide Information in the Right Language:

Many U.S. expressions do not translate well into Spanish.  The result can be embrassing, misleading or insulting to the Costa Rican consumer. Have your sales catalogs and brochures translated into Spanish. For the best results, obtain two-way translations. Hire a translator who is fluent in Costa Rican Spanish to translate your brochures from English to Spanish. Then hire a different translator, who also is fluent in Costa Rican Spanish, to translate the Spanish documents into English. Then compare the two documents; and consult with both translators to resolve substantive differences.  You should engage the services of an advertising agency that is familiar with Costa Rican or Central American culture when creating advertising to  ensure an effective marketing campaign. 

Make Appropriate Payment Arrangements:

Payment for small purchases is usually direct. Terms of payment for purchases exceeding 1,000,000 CRC are generally conducted using irrevocable letters of credit. Open account payment terms are reserved generally for well-known and well-established customers.

Marketing Your Products with Direct Marketing:

Direct marketing is a common business practice in Costa Rica and you can mail any type of propaganda except for birth control products, and/or pornographic material. Adult material may be sent upon the addressee's request. If you are looking for a specific group of professionals to target, you can contact their respective associations and they may provide their member's business addresses and phone numbers for a fee or for free.  

There is no law in Costa Rica that regulates direct marketing. Thus, direct marketing as a selling method is regulated by the general Costa Rican law that applies to publicity and advertising agencies as well as the commerce activity, consumer's defense, and other laws. For further information, consult a lawyer familiar with Costa Rican law.

All products that you market in Costa Rica must:

  • have at least one month of warranty
  • not compete with the State monopolies
  • clearly state if they are used or new
  • state their expiration date, and their ingredients (if food) or components (if clothes.)

    Door-To-Door Sales:

    Door-to-door sales (Ventas a Domicilio) are a common business practice for small and large companies in Costa Rica. It works like this: A company hires two or three sales people, on a salary or commission basis, to sell its products door-to-door at selected neighborhoods in Costa Rica. The salespeople - if necessary - set up small credit lines for customers to buy the product and collect payments at the customer's neighborhood on a weekly, biweekly, or monthly basis. Payment collections will be subject to the agreement between the company and its salespeople. New detergents are commonly sold door-to-door in some neighborhoods.

    Trade Shows:

    In Costa Rica trade shows, seminars, conferences, catalog shows, business receptions and matchmaker events are conducted periodically.

    There also are a limited number of privately organized trade promotion events.

    Fiestas Internacionales, S.A. (FERCORI), a private trade event organizer, has the following trade shows:

    1. Expo Finanzas: A personal/business finance product trade show.

    2. Decosalon: a home/business interior design and construction trade show.

    3. Feria de Agosto: A women and home products trade show. It takes place during the month of August every year.

    4. Feria Internacional de Costa Rica: A general consumer trade show promoting all national and international products and services currently in the Costa Rican market. It is scheduled during March.

    5. Feria del Regalo: A gift trade show for the Holidays. It takes place during the month of December.

    6. Jumpy fun: a children and young adult products trade show.

    For further information contact:
    Ferias Internacionales, S.A.
    P. O. Box 1843-1000
    San Jose, Costa Rica
    Tel.: 506-2-233-6990
    Fax: 506-2-233-5791

    Information is provided below for automobiles, computers, and hotels.

    Automobiles: The Federation of Vehicles and Parts Importers of Central America organizes auto trade shows every two years.

    Federation of Vehicles and Parts Importers of Central America
    P. O. Box 8-4040-1000
    San Jose, Costa Rica
    Tel: 506-2-222-5513
    Fax: 506-2-223-6173

    Computers: Sistema Empresarial S. A., a Costa Rican company, manages the Fercomputo computer trade shows. Shows take place during the month of October.

    Fercomputo
    P.O. Box 2219-1000
    San Jose, Costa Rica
    Tel.: 506-2-273-4545 ext. 111
    Fax: 506-2-273-3385

    Hotels: The Costa Rican Chamber of Hotels organizes EXPO Hotel, a hotel trade show. It is usually held in the first week of April.

    EXPOHOTEL Camara Costarricense de Hoteles
    P. O. Box 8422-1000
    San Jose, Costa Rica
    Tel.: 506-2-253-3086
    Fax: 506-2-224-6572

    Advertising:

    Costa Rican newspapers as well as some Costa Rican web sites are among the best ways to promote sales of products and/or services.  

    It is also good to advertise in magazines published by organizations, such as the Costa Rican American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham), the Chamber of Commerce of Costa Rica, and other specialized chambers/business associations. 

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