by Gabriela Boylan
- To encourage Mexicans to vote in the July 2012 presidential election, retailers participated in a campaign that offered freebies and discounts for people returning from the ballot box.
- The National Chambers of Commerce (Concanaco) came up with ¡Dedo Manchado, Descuento Asegurado! (Stained Finger, Assured Discount!), whereby people who had voted — as evidenced by their ink-stained thumb — could take advantage of this national discount day.
- More than 200,000 retailers participated (ElUniversal.com, 30 June 2012). Oxxo, the country’s largest convenience store, gave voters a free cup of coffee. Passengers on Viva Aerobus airline got a free meal. There were discounts on theater tickets, hotel stays, fast food meals, beauty treatments and much more.
- The campaign was good for not only the democratic process, but also the economy. In some states, retail sales rose 10% to 20% on July 1, election day (Síntesis.mx, 2 July 2012).
- The campaign worked: Voter abstention this year was down to about 37% — better than 42.5% in 2006.
WHAT THIS MEANS TO BUSINESS
- On past election days, it seemed that life stopped. Businesses closed their doors because people stayed home to follow the results on TV. But with more people getting their news on their mobile devices, they don’t have to spend the day in front of the TV to know what’s going on. They can get the information they need while enjoying life.
- This national discount day helped improve the bottom line of legitimate businesses — ones that actually pay taxes — instead of informal commerce (with its counterfeits) that comprise so many retail transactions in Mexico. The ¡Dedo Manchado, Descuento Asegurado! campaign helped equate two positive and legitimate activities.