Identifies common practices to be aware of when selling in this market, e.g., whether all sales material need to be in the local language.
Trade Promotion and Advertising
Chile enjoys a free press and a developed media market, however, there is a lack of diversity in ownership. The 2022 World Press Freedom Index ranks Chile at 82, a decline from 54 in 2021 and its lowest ranking. In an explanation of the lower ranking, Reporters Without Boundaries cited an erosion in respect for press freedom and investigative journalism and an increase of attacks on journalists. Two companies, El Mercurio SAP and Grupo Copesa, own an estimated 95 percent of print media, while Spanish company Prisa owns about 60 percent of radio stations. Most advertising is handled by private agencies, the majority of which belong to the Chilean Association of Advertisement Agencies (ACHAP).
Broadcast media includes free-to-air broadcast television networks, cable and satellite TV, radio, newspapers, and magazines. Chile has six broadcast television networks that include top rated TV station Mega, owned by Chilean company Bethia Group (72.5 percent) and by U.S. company Warner Bros. Discovery (27.5 percent), which also owns CNN Chile. Chilevision, the second most popular TV station, is owned by U.S. company Paramont Networks Americas. Canal 13, formerly Catholic University of Chile TV network, is now owned by Chilean businessman Andronico Luksic, who also owns an increasingly popular network of news radio stations (T13.cl). TVN (Television Nacional de Chile), the largest TV broadcaster, is a state-owned, but not publicly funded network and also airs 24Horas, a 24/7 news station on cable. Locally produced news, variety shows, and soap operas draw large prime time audiences on all networks.
Paid television (cable and satellite) reach 56.7 percent of households nationwide, according to Chile’s Under Secretary for Telecommunications (Subtel). The four major cable and satellite providers are VTR, Movistar, DirecTV, and Claro. Combined, these operate in approximately 95 percent of the country. All rebroadcast to local stations and carry a host of international channels.
Radio is the country’s most extensive and most trusted news medium, especially in rural areas. There are approximately 2,030 radio stations nationwide. Ownership is concentrated in primarily three holdings -Grupo Bethia, Grupo Dial, and Iberoamericana Radio Chile (Spanish-owned Prisa), which holds the largest market share.
Chile has approximately fifty newspapers ranging from nationally distributed dailies to small-town tabloids; Santiago has nine major dailies. El Mercurio and La Tercera are considered the leading newspapers and distribution ranges from as many as 500,000 copies for a Sunday edition of El Mercurio to 3,000 copies of a regional paper. Publimetro, Chile’s leading free morning daily, boasts a circulation of approximately 400,000, the highest in the country. Financial daily Diario Financiero is the only independent business newspaper after Pulso, its main competitor, was aquired by La Tercera. Chile’s consistently best investigative reporting is undertaken by the non-profit organization Centro de Investigación Periodistica (CIPER), which only publishes online. Grupo Copesa partially subsidizes CIPER.
Pricing in Chile starts with a straightforward formula based on Cost, Insurance and Freight Import (CIF) value: costs plus generally constant ship-to-warehouse expenses. Gross margins for consumer goods range from 30 to 50 percent or more for direct sales to consumers, or 20 to 30 percent each for the importer/distributor and the retailer when a distribution chain is in place. The final price for mass-market items should be competitive with imports from Asia and Brazil. Higher-priced items must identify niche market segments to prosper. More specialized products are sold by stocking distributors or by commissioned agents who generally earn margins of 5 to 10 percent on their sales.
Under the U.S.-Chile FTA, tariffs were eliminated on most goods imported from the United States. However, all goods, both foreign and domestic, are subject to Chile’s value added tax (called “IVA” in Spanish), which has been 19 percent since October 1, 2003. Any tariff and value added tax is usually paid by the importer and not by the supplier. There are some exceptions: government entities do not pay these taxes, and some luxury goods have higher tariffs.
Sales Service/Customer Support
Customer service and support are fundamental to successfully aquiring and retaining market segments for most products and services. Any product that requires operator training or needs after sales technical service must have a qualified local company ready and able to assist the customer. Due to Chile’s relatively close-knit society, company reputations can be made or lost in a fairly short period of time.
Local Professional Services
Chile’s business environment and infrastructure are well-developed. There are many local companies that can provide professional services to U.S. firms.
The U.S. Commercial Service maintains a list of service providers that offer legal, financial, administrative/HR, transportation, hotel, consulting, and market research services. These firms provide support to companies initiating or expanding business in Chile. Please contact the U.S. Commercial Service for more information.
Principal Business Associations
An additional method vital to the success of conducting business in Chile is to contact the multitude of principle business associations. With information and expertise in the various business sectors, their insight can provide assistance in launching an expansion into the Chilean market. Although their knowledge is an easily accessible resource, their ability to provide contacts in Chile can be equally as rewarding.
- Sociedad de Fomento Fabril - Chilean Manufacturer’s Association, SOFOFA
- Cámara de Comercio Santiago – Santiago Chamber of Commerce, CCS
- Asociación de Exportadores y Manufacturas - Chilean Exporters Association, Asexma
- Sociedad Nacional de Minería - National Mining Association, Sonami
- Asociación Chilena de Empresas de Tecnología de Información - Chilean Association of Information Technology Companies, ACTI
- Cámara de la Innovación Farmacéutica - Chilean Chamber of Pharmaceutical Innovation, CIF
- Asociación Industrial de Laboratorios Farmacéuticos - Industrial Association of Pharmaceutical Labs, ASILFA
- Clínicas de Chile - Association of Private Clinics
- Asociación Nacional Automotriz - Chilean Automotive Association, ANAC
- Cámara Chilena de Comercio de Repuestos y Accesorios Automotrices - Chilean Chamber of Auto Parts, CAREP
- Cámara Chilena de la Construcción - Chilean Construction Chamber of Commerce, CChC
- Asociación Chilena de Gastronomía - Chilean Association of Gastronomy, ACHIGA
- Asociación de Industriales del Plástico – Chilean Association of Plastic Industry, ASIPLA
- Sociedad Nacional de Agricultura - National Society of Agriculture, SNA
- Corporación de Desarrollo Tecnológico - Technological Development Corporation, CDT
- Asociación de Exportadores de Frutas - Fruit Exporters Association, ASOEX
- Asociación Gremial de Industriales Gráficos - Graphics Industry Association, ASIMPRES
- Cámara Cosmética - Chilean Chamber of Cosmetics
- Chile Telcos – Association of Chilean Telecommunications Companies
Limitations on Selling U.S. Products and Services
There are no major limitations for selling U.S. products or services. However, when bidding through Chilecompra, the government procurement agency, U.S. companies must have a Chilean tax identification number (RUT) that can be aquired at Servicio de Impuestos Internos (SII), the Chilean IRS equivalent. While it is not a requirement for U.S. companies to have a direct presence in Chile to receive a RUT, a direct presence or a local representative is recommended for bidding on public procurements.