Learning the 5P’s of Marketing in Buenos Aires



I remember studying Marketing in College. It was all about the 5 P’s. Not sure if they teach the 5 P’s any more. I still keep studying though and I have learned a lot about marketing in Buenos Aires and my Spanish is worse than rudimentary.

I learned about pricing on my first trip ten years ago. Prices were very affordable because Argentina had taken a devaluation haircut in 2001. America took its haircut during the Great Recession. Many people still have a buzz cut.

IMG_3717We sat outside a well know Café called La Biela. It was founded in 1850. The well-dressed waiter in a uniform right out of Les Deux Magots hands me a menu and the first thing I notice is that there are two rows of prices. There appears to be a premium for sitting outside.

In my foreign naivety I ask, “Why does it cost more to sit outside?” The waiter looks at me like I am a lost soul and says “Because you will be seen.” Totally end benefit.

Clarity and knowledge jumped into my brain and I fully understood luxury marketing. A few years later I was conducting a review for Villeroy & Boch. My client’s parents lived in Argentina.

I certainly have learned about Product in Buenos Aires. It’s steaks are not meals they are creations. The leather goods are works of art that tell stories. In many stores the shopping bags that contain your purchases are finely designed. No expense is spared on quality. Each bag is sealed with tape. All is intended to reinforce your fine purchase decision.


Buenos Aires is truly one of the cities where I enjoy shopping.

I remember when we were buying a pair of women’s shoes once. They were brown on the outside and a baby blue on the inside that reminded me of the ceiling of Notre Dame in Montreal. I asked the attendant why the brown shoes are blue on the inside.

He looked at me with an air of sympathy and said, “For the pleasure of her eyes when Madame puts on her shoes in the morning.”

I have never heard that at Nordstrom’s.

Another P that we learned about was Place. Place has changed over the years. Now Pop-Up Stores are in Manhattan selling Putin T Shirts.


Buenos Aires has taught me about Place in it’s own particular way.

We were going to a new bar called Floreria Atlantico. I was told it was in a Florist Shop. We arrived at the place. It sold flowers and wine. I tipped my hand to my lips mimicking having a drink. She pointed to what looked like a cooler door where temperature sensitive flowers could have been stored. We opened it and descended the stairs to a bar and restaurant serving the best cocktails and food. We ordered the octopus twice.

A week after our return I was reading the Sunday New York Time Travel Section and there was an article about Floreria Atlantico. It was recently named the top bar in Latin America.

So much for place.

And then there is Profit and isn’t Marketing and America firmly entrenched in profit. ROI. ROI. Wall Street. Quarterly earnings.  Money, Money, Money!

On a previous trip we were walking down the street from our apartment. We passed a leather store no wider than ten feet.  Something caught my eye and we went in. I bought a lovely leather bag that my significant other uses on every trip. It cost less than a meal for two, with wine in the OC. Handcrafted leather from a store that was at least 80 years old. It had a tassel that unfortunately was lost when we put it in the overhead on a trip somewhere.


On my most recent trip this month we returned to the store. We walked down the same street. After trying my Spanish I showed the owner/craftsman of the store a picture of the bag I had purchased in the past on my iphone. We enlisted the only other customer in the store who happened to serendipity speak English and he explained that we had lost a tassel. Buenos Aires is all about serendipity.

The owner left and came back with another similar bag.

He took off the tassel on that bag and handed it to me.

I took out my wallet. He shook his head no and took his hand and beat it against his chest near his heart.

He had made enough profit.

I left simultaneously much richer.


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