Crossing the Border: Nielsen Quantifies Economic Impact of Mexican Consumers for Rio Grande Valley Area

While country borders sharply define the nationality of the consumers within them, these lines drawn on a map don’t prevent consumer habits, spending and people from moving across them.

Recently, Nielsen presented a cross-border study on consumer behavior and media consumption in the Rio Grande Valley. The collective metropolitan areas encompassing cities in the U.S. and Mexico, including Brownsville, Harlingen and McAllen in Texas and Matamoros and Reynosa in Mexico, represent a vibrant and growing regional economy.

This first-of-its-kind study for Nielsen surveyed residents in Mexico alongside the Rio Grande Valley and combined that custom data with existing U.S. syndicated service. The study asked questions about everything—from shopping to media consumption habits—in order to understand the strengths and uniqueness of the area. With this unique study, Nielsen is now measuring cross-border consumers and delivering insights about what people watch, what they listen to and what they purchase.

With 3.5 million consumers crossing the Rio Grande Valley border each year, the opportunity to identify frequent visitors, as well as their shopping and media behaviors, are crucial. The study found that almost three-fourths of the trips made across the border are for leisure purposes as opposed to business, and 63% of visitors to the U.S. visited at least once a month. Frequent visitors, those who have visited five or more times in a month, took an average of 48 trips across the U.S. border and spent two-thirds more than all other visitors.


Nielsen’s Cross-Border study represents a huge opportunity to highlight the existing business opportunity for local media, including TV and radio, and to demonstrate the interconnectedness of the Rio Grande Valley area. It also illustrates the collaboration across multiple organizations, giving local media, advertisers, agencies, business leaders, university constituents and government officials the opportunity to capture audiences and effectively reach them using this information.

We look forward to fielding the next study in the fall of 2016, and we are planning to expand and measure cross-border audiences in the regions of San Diego/Tijuana, El Paso/ Ciudad Juarez, and Laredo/ Nuevo Laredo.

Download the full report for more information.

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