Find success when launching your app or game in Mexico

Four things our most successful partners do when launching and growing their app in Mexico

With over 120 million people, Mexico is one of the 10 most populated countries in the world. Mexico City is one of the world’s largest cities and is home to 20% of Mexico’s population. Well known as a major tourist destination, Mexico also offers a great environment for business: some 45% of the population is under 25, it’s cosmopolitan — the number of expats has grown by 95% over the last decade — and there are more digital services becoming available. Now is an ideal time to expand your app or game business to Mexico.

While Google Play provides all developers with best practices to increase app success and grow their business, I’m often asked what the most important factors for success in Mexico are specifically. These are the four best practices which I’ve found are common to developers who do well in Mexico.

Be local

Going local is often one of our top tips, if not the top tip, for addressing any new market. For Mexico, these are the things you need to do:

  1. Even though some people in Mexico can understand English, your first step should be to localize your app to Spanish for a bigger and better reach. And, by doing so, remember that you’ll be well along the road to expanding your business to the rest of the region’s Spanish speaking countries.
  2. Use informal language without being excessive. For example, Mexican’s commonly say “tú” (meaning you) instead of “usted”, so make sure you use the appropriate tone in your app, your store listing, and push notifications.
  3. Add local flavor for the significant events in Mexico’s year: Valentine’s Day (February 14), Mother’s Day (May 10), Father’s Day (third Sunday in June), back to school (at the beginning of September), Independence Day (September 16), Day of the Dead festival (October 31 to November 2), and Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
  4. Mexico spans 3 time zones (UTC -7, -6, and -5). Consider splitting notifications by these time zones or, at least, take them into account when contextualizing push notifications for your users.

Instafit, a health and fitness app offering personalized nutrition and workouts to improve the quality of life, is constantly improving the way they communicate the benefits of the app to their users. To test potential improvements they ran several store listing experiments. From these experiments they identified several useful changes:

  • Adopting the right conversational tone (using “tú” instead of “usted”).
  • Using the right wording, for example by making sure the highlight titles emphasized the app’s key benefits and differentiators, using imperative verbs to make user communication dynamic, and ensuring the call to action is clear and punchy: “What are you waiting for? Your training starts today”.
  • Keeping things simple, using short sentences and very few paragraphs.
  • Highlighting the key benefits and calls to action in the description of the app, with rich text formatting.

Once they had implemented these changes, Instafit saw an increase in app installs of 14%.

Be social

As people strive for individuality, they want to connect with people with the same interests. It’s all about connections: whether it’s by following, friending, or something else, there are many ways for people to connect with each other.

With its youthful population, it isn’t surprising that Mexico often ranks among the top countries for social app use. So, add social components to your app as they should help increase user retention and engagement.

Building apps with content sharing to share simple data or files is a must. However, my recommendation is to integrate social features and make them a core part of the app experience.

Over the last year Tizkka, a fashion discovery and shopping app, increased monthly installs 8-times on Google Play in Mexico. Social interactions are at the heart of the app: they enable users to get inspired by looks from other users, to discover the latest trends, share, learn, and finally shop for fashion. Users can even vote for their preferred looks.

Mexico is so social that even mobile payments benefit from a social aspect. PayIt, a payment app that enables Mexicans to pay and transfer money, has found success by implementing social features. For instance, users can retrieve all their contacts from Facebook and then give Likes to contacts who send them payments.

Price for different market segments

Pricing is one of the most important elements of your marketing strategy. Any app that you publish through Google Play can implement In-app Billing. You just need Google Play Console and Google Wallet merchant accounts. When you use the In-app Billing service to sell an item, whether it’s an in-app product or a subscription, Google Play handles all the check out details, so your app doesn’t need to process financial transactions.

When you implement your pricing strategy:

  1. The preferred billing method — preferred by both developers and users — seems to be shifting away from one-off in-app purchases to the subscription model: we’ve seen Play Store subscription revenues triple year-on-year in Mexico. This growth appears to be driven by the flexibility of weekly, monthly, 3 monthly, 6 monthly, annual, and seasonal subscription periods, coupled with the payment options available in Play Store (such as bank cards, PayPal, gift cards, and carrier billing). If you don’t already use a subscription model, I’d recommend looking at how to adapt your app before launching in Mexico. You might also want to read Niko Schröer’s excellent blog on Building a subscriptions business for all seasons. And, if you already support subscriptions, remember to test to find out which subscription periods work best for your app in Mexico. A tip: in Mexico, you’ll probably find that monthly subscriptions work best.
  2. Test what price points make sense for Mexico to maximize revenue, and be aware that in Mexico you can apply sub-dollar pricing with a minimum price of 5 pesos (about 28c US).
  3. Due to the dynamics of the Mexican economy, variations in the exchange rate between the Mexican peso and US dollar can affect consumers’ decision making. Check your pricing regularly, so you stay competitive.
  4. Consider using charm pricing: prices ending in .99.

Papumba, a developer and publisher of educational games for mobile devices, saw paying users on ABC for kids increase 30-times after localizing the price for Mexico.

Also, Papumba has localized their apps to markets around the world where the wider use of localized pricing has contributed to an overall increase in the company’s revenue of 20%. You can read more about what they did in this Android Developer Story.

Build for millions

As an emerging market, Mexico has some of the fastest growing internet and smartphone penetration rates. The opportunity can be tremendous, but it may require a few adjustments for your app to adapt to the local conditions and challenges.

Mexico has a wide diversity of device types, ranging from high-end to low-end. If you want to make your app available for most users, I would recommend optimizing the size of your app first. This will avoid users of low-end devices needing to free space on their device to install your app (which they probably won’t do).

Mercado Libre, a leading shopping app in Latin America, managed to decrease app uninstalls significantly by reducing the size of their app to 9MB. They achieved this size reduction by optimizing the code, removing or optimizing the use of libraries, and using WebP for images. Reducing the size of your app will also have a positive impact on data costs and connectivity optimization, and will make it more likely your app will be installed anytime, anywhere from carriers’ networks, instead of relying on users finding a Wi-Fi connection.

You can find out more about optimizing your app for the Mexican market by following the recommendations on app size, data costs and connectivity optimization, device types, battery life consumption, and delivering quick and responsive UI in our building for billions guidelines and in one our recent Medium posts, ‘How to optimize your Android app for emerging markets’ by my colleague Spandana Nakka.

A final word

Mexico offers you a vibrant and expanding market, and you can improve your chances of success when you take the few extra steps to fit in with local tastes and behaviors. I’ve introduced you to the key steps: start by localizing your app, look to a subscriptions model and find the right local pricing, be social, and keep your app small to maximize your potential audience. However, remember that best practices for localizing your app and expanding to new markets globally apply equally to Mexico. To find out more, check out the Playbook app.

And once you have done all that, the best part is that Mexico is only the start of your opportunity: once you have conquered Mexico you’ll have opened the door to the Spanish speaking market in Latin America, with its population of over 400 million.

I hope you found this exploration of the Mexican market useful and I look forward to welcoming you — or at least your app — to Mexico soon.

If you want to find out more about Mexico and the opportunities it offers your app business, I’d recommend looking at the following: the population of Mexico City, facts about Mexico, and population growth predictions from the United Nations.

What do you think?

Do you have questions or thoughts on launching apps or games in Mexico? Continue the discussion in the comments below or tweet using the hashtag #AskPlayDev and we’ll reply from @GooglePlayDev, where we regularly share news and tips on how to be successful on Google Play.