In recent weeks Brexit have been back in the news. Since the referendum on the permanence of the United Kingdom in the European Union, Europe has been plunged into uncertainty due to the future relationships between both parties. It is well known that uncertainty is not good for business and economy. At Dos Aguas Consulting we are making a list of those risks that importers and exporters may face in the new scenario, as well as we explain how Dos Aguas Consulting can help making safe business in Spain.
What are the risks for importers and exporters?
We are not facing an easy issue, considering the growing fear among businessmen about this new situation in which tariffs in the trade between the UK and EU may be raised.
First of all, it must be borne in mind that the situation will depend on the political sphere and the negotiations between the EU and the UK. These negotiations began in March 2017 and some experts see the final agreement far away, especially after the latest statements by Theresa May in the European Parliament, opening the possibility to extend the transition period of the Brexit beyond December of 2020.
In the event that both parties do not reach an agreement, the basic rules of the World Trade Organization (hereinafter, WTO) are applied, which implies the existence of various tariffs for both imports and exports. In this scenario, tariffs will reduce competitiveness and benefits for Spanish and European exporters, as well as for British importers.
However, we must take into account that since the UK is a member of the WTO (prior to its membership in the EU), the most favored nation (MFN) treatment must exist between the EU and the UK. In this way, the British exporters would face the EU Common Customs Tariff, while the EU exporters would face the tariffs that the UK freely chose to apply. In addition to the already mentioned tariffs, the exporters of both parties would face other non-tariff barriers when exporting to the other party because the compliance of the regulations in force would not be automatically secured any longer.
Secondly, within the scope of the WTO the customs tariffs set by the WTO will apply to British exports (10% to the automotive sector and 36% to agricultural products in 2014). This fact will put British companies at a competitive disadvantage, even more because there is no room to negotiate other rates within the organization. In this regard, main product groups will be affected by this alleged situation:
Source: Elaborated by Dos Aguas Consulting
Source: Elaborated by Dos Aguas Consulting
On the one hand, the EU is one of the main export partners of the UK, since 47.43% of British exports are destined to a member state of the EU. In fact, 3.05% go to Spain, being the main groups of products: vehicles, machinery, pharmaceutical products, mineral fuels and electrical machinery.
On the other hand, Spain also finds in the British market sales opportunities for its products. In the period between 2013 and 2017, Spanish imports increased by 20.56%. Among the groups of imported products include: vehicles, machinery and food products.
In short, the increase in business costs between the UK and the EU after Brexit can be divided into three parts:
Higher tariffs on imports;
Greater non-tariff barriers to trade (derived from different regulations, border controls, etc.);
The UK can not be part of future EU actions to achieve a deeper integration and the reduction of non-tariff barriers in the EU.
Recommendation for the British in the event of a non-agreement:
Given the situation of uncertainty surrounding the negotiations, we recommend to pay special attention to the drafting of contracts when exporting or importing, as well as to choice the most advantageous INCOTERMS, the currency to carry out the transaction, the insurance contracting, etc. At Dos Aguas Consulting we can help companies with these issues and others business problems in the Spanish market. Remember our motto: “Information is Safe Business”.
 EC/Agencies (22th October, 2018) May abre la puerta a extender el periodo de transición del Brexit. El Confidencial website.Available online (link). Last accessed: 25.10.2018.
 Spanish Department of Agriculture, Food and Environment in London (2015) Implicaciones de la salida británica de la UE
para el sector agro-alimentario. Spanish Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food website. Available online (link). Last accessed: 25.10.2018.
Starbucks is a franchise of coffee shops founded in Seattle in 1971, which currently operates in America, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, China and Asia Pacific. It has 277,000 employees, with a sales volume of 23.5 billion dollars in 2018 and 27,339 stores worldwide in 2017.
What makes Starbucks different from the marketing mix perception?
The marketing proposal that Starbucks has made in its expansion process has a global nature. This article analyzes this marketing strategy in relation to four different elements: product, price, advertising, and distribution channels.
1.1. An easily recognizable product
If we carry out an analysis of the product we see how essential the logo is for this brand. Wherever there is a Starbucks in the world, it identifies with the same logo, that is, the green double-tail siren.
1.2. Personalization of the product
The possibility to choose and customize the coffee is a key attribute that is increasingly appreciated by consumers. In addition to writing the name of each consumer in the plastic cups, they can choose from a large number of options to buy their coffee. In this way, they are no longer limited to classic coffee, but have created new presentations and flavors looking for please the customer and satisfy different tastes. With all this, Starbucks has achieved that the consumer feels that he has control over what he consumes.
Source: elaborated by Dos Aguas Consulting
1.3. Quality of the product
Starbucks sells high quality products and their price is high compared to coffee places. They have used a high value-added approach that is valued by high-middle class customers but also invites clients with low purchasing power (especially teenagers).
1.4 An emotional connection with customers
They have created what they call “the third place”. If the first place is home and the second place is work, the third place is where everyone goes after home and work. To achieve that third place, they have generated an atmosphere of relaxation that takes customers to a unique experience. In this way, the company offers a connection between the store and the feeling of drinking coffee in a familiar place that makes the costumer feel as if he were at home. Thus, their product is not limited to coffee, but goes beyond and includes a comfortable environment, where one can study, work, read, chat, etc. The strategy therefore is based on converting coffee shops in places that attract customers for the service of excellence, the aroma of coffee, the comfortable open spaces and armchairs, free wifi, and continuos cleaning. All in all, the ideal environment.
Drinking Starbucks coffee is associated with a modern and successful life. In many TV series and films, principal actors and actresses drink their coffee and they usually have something in common; being young, attractive, and successful. So when the costumer buys a coffee from Starbucks, he is buying more than just a coffee. He is imitating the role set by the movies he watches.
Source: elaborated by Dos Aguas Consulting. From left to right: Sandra Bullock in “The Proposal” (2009), Sara Jessica Parker in “Sex and the City” (2008), Anne Hathaway in “Devil wears Prada” 2006), Christopher John Grace in “In Good Company” (2004), Alicia Silvestone in “Clueless” (1995), and Tom Hanks in “You’ve Got Mail” (1998).
2. Price approach
Starbucks products are in a higher range than the rest of its competitors because Starbucks uses a fixing strategy of premium prices. This strategy takes advantage of the trend of consumer behavior to buy more expensive products, based on the perception that high price means high value. Through this strategy of high prices, the company maintains its upmarket image.
Starbucks’ main promotion is spread by their customers. Although the company carries out campaigns when introducing new products or flavors into the market, their advertising expenses only represent around 1% of their income. This strategy goes in connection with the fact that Starbucks does not need advertising because the cinema, tv series, and celebrities already carry out promotional tasks. It is common to see photos in the tabloid journalism of a famous person with a coffee cup from Starbucks.
Distribution channels approach
Starbucks offers most of its products through the company’s coffee shops. However, they also sell on-line store and in the Starbucks app. This means that the company is in tune with the new technologies and market conditions.
In short, the feature that differentiates Starbucks the most is that they sell the experience of -emotions while drinking coffee- to customers of upper-middle class that live in the city.
What can Dos Aguas Consulting do for you?
Dos Aguas Consulting can contribute with our knowledge of the Spanish market and the profile of the Spanish consumer. In our work as a company specialized in advising and supporting international companies that want to invest in Spain, we can help you find clients and make a profitable business in the country. We can design your marketing strategy or adapt it to this market particularities. Get in touch with us, our trade and marketing advisors will help you!
 Forbes (2018) Forbes Companies list. Available online (link). Last accessed: 18.10.2018.
 Statista (2018) Number of Starbucks stores worldwide from 2003 to 2017. Available online (link). Last accessed: 18.10.2018.
 Entrepreneur (February 19th, 2011) El secreto del éxito de Starbucks, Entrepreneur. Available online (link). Last accessed: 18.10.2018.
 César Piqueras (September 12th, 2014) La clave del Exito de Starbucks no es el café. Available online (link). Last accessed: 18.10.2018.
 Franquicias de café (November 5th, 2013) Estrategias de Mercado de Starbucks. Available online (link). Last accessed: 18.10.2018.
 Luis Mauricio Mija (March 4th, 2016) Starbucks: 5 estrategias de negocio – Análisis del modelo de la compañía de café más grande del mundo. Available online (link).Last accessed: 18.10.2018.
 Roberta Greenspan (January 31th, 2017) Starbucks Coffee’s Marketing Mix (4Ps), Panmore Institute website. Available online (link). Last accessed: 18.10.2018.
 Roberta Greenspan (January 31th, 2017) Starbucks Coffee’s Marketing Mix (4Ps), Panmore Institute website. Available online (link). Last accessed: 18.10.2018.
When digital transformation of industries and businesses became the ‘hot topic’ that it is today, several indices soon showed that Spain was lagging behind the average of digital transformation of all European countries. As industries are exposed to continuous digitisation, digital transformation was, and remains to be, a major challenge for Spain . Considering the fact that for decades, Spain was never a leader of industrial movements as the nation’s main sector was (and is) tourism, Spain lagging behind in digitisation somewhat does not come as a surprise . However, recent developments show quite the opposite. The Spanish government recognised the importance of digitisation and launched an initiative in which digital transformation in Spain could contribute to increased earnings of 120 billion euros until 2025 [2,4,5]. Moreover, when it comes to application of digital technologies such as blockchain and the internet of things (IoT), Spain appears to take a lead with more pilots and projects than in the rest of the EU. In this blog, the Dos Aguas Team analyses and summarises the digital transformation of the Spanish market, in order to find out what remains a challenge for Spain, and what Spanish developments can be used as examples of digital transformation done right.
Spain’s digital transformation position
Spain is the 5th largest economy of Europe, and the 13th largest economy of the world . For an economy this large, digital transformation is more of a challenge than for smaller economies, solely caused by the larger magnitude of the transformation. To measure country performances in the context of digital transformation, the European Digital Economy & Society Index (DESI) assesses transformation in five areas: connectivity, human capital, use of internet, integration of digital technology, and digital public services . When looking at the index of 2017 (graph below), Spain indeed scores slightly below the average of the European Union in the first three aspects. The graph also displays the scores of Sweden, a country known for a slightly smaller economy and very progressive culture, which are above average in all five aspects of the graph . However, Spain scores above average in the fourth category (integration of digital technology), and exceptional in the fifth (digital public services), confirming the previously stated suggestion that Spain has both point of improvements, as well as top-of-the-class performances.
Looking at digital transformation from the perspective of individual Spanish companies, results of a survey shows that the priorities of digital trends amongst companies mainly are: becoming accessible via mobile, creating a digital user experience, and dealing with big data . The statistics regarding the priorities amongst these digital trends are graphed below.
Barriers that slow down improvements
The points of improvements of Spain’s digital transformation, according to the scores as presented in the DESI, are related to connectivity, the digitisation of human capital, and overall usage of internet – aspects who are clearly linked to each other. To express that improvements have to be made, the Spanish Business Organisations Confederation (Confederación Española de Organizaciones Empresariales, CEOE) set a goal for Spain to be ranked as number 10 maximum in the DESI by the end of 2020 . However, this goal is not easily met, as several barriers exist that stagnate improvements in these three categories. These barriers include the following: only 54% of the population has basic digital skills, 62% of companies do not have a digital strategy and 20% do not provide any type of digital training to their employees, 79% of organisations are not present on any kind of social media, only 16% of small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) sell their service or product online, and more than one fifth (22%) of management teams have expressed that they are resistant to digital transformation of their companies . What is more, due to high costs of digital transformation and perceived security risks, these statistics are unlikely to change in the near future without an external push.
Governmental initiatives to push for digital transformation
An external push that encourages Spanish organisations to digitally transform must come from the Spanish government. To start, an overall collective awareness of the importance of digital transformation is required. In May 2018, the Digital Enterprise Show (DES) assembled the four major political parties of Spain to discuss and present proposed digital transformation strategies for Spain . The outcome of this conversation is summarised here. Conferences like these slowly bring awareness about the topic to a larger audience, however the barriers ‘cost’ and ‘security risk’ remain existing for SMEs.
Several initiatives have been implemented in an attempt to diminish these barriers. In 2017, financial aid had been given to 25 SMEs in a pilot project to direct implement digital transformation in enterprises in the Spanish industry, and this project has since been rolled out to reach a much larger scale . Another example is the initiative of the Spanish Ministry of Industry (MINECO), to increase the contribution to the country’s GDP by €120 billion until 2025 by digital transformation, as investigated by Roland Berger in collaboration with Siemens [1,2]. The report of this investigation (link, in Spanish) states that successful digital transformation would lead Spanish companies to reduce their production, maintenance and logistics costs by 10% or 20%, and reduce their inventory costs by up to 50% . This would then offset and even overshadow the costs of the digital transformation. The initiatives include the development of a Digital Agenda of Spain to digitalise public administration, and a pilot project to digitalise the country’s department of Justice .
With an eye on the security barrier, the Spanish government launched several nation-wide cyber security projects. This brings us to the country’s high score of integration of digital technologies.
As the graph of the European DESI scores indicates, Spain indeed outperforms the average of the EU, and partially even the leaders of the group, in the areas of digital technology integration and digital public services. In the previous paragraph, we established several governmental initiatives that are implemented to improve the country’s digital transformation. In the two sectors in which Spain outperforms the EU average, these initiatives have clearly already succeeded. However, Spain continues to develop in these areas. For example with the proposed 2018 Stability Programme and Budgetary Plan, which introduced a Digital Services Tax (DST) in April of this year, to be implemented effective immediately . Also, the government’s Public Digital Agenda  and the Public Administration 4.0 strategy  contribute to maintaining this solid digital public service score of the DESI.
On the side of integration of digital technology, Spain progressively takes the lead by becoming a European focal point in blockchain and IoT . As several of our previous blogs already describe, the Spanish government pioneers when it comes to implementing projects related to blockchain and digital currencies, having one of the few national banks worldwide that openly support these technologies . Furthermore, by being one of the smartest cities of the world, Barcelona significantly contributes to an excellent score on digital technology integration . For more information, take a look at our blogs Barcelona: the smart(est) city of Spain and Blockchain in Spain.
Conclusion and investment opportunities
To summarise, there are areas of improvement for Spain as well as areas in which the country leads in the context of digital transformation. This gives way for many investment opportunities. On the one hand, opportunities arise in the need for basic digital transformation in the areas of connectivity, usage of internet and human capital. Combined with the statistics of where companies see the most need of digital improvement, fruitful investment strategies can be made. On the other hand, one can choose to jump on the disruptive technologies train and invest in the innovative technologies that Spain is leading in and further developing. For more information about investment opportunities get in touch with us: our trade advisors will be happy to assist you.
 Signaturit, 16 May 2017, The state of the digital transformation in Spain, according to the latest study from the consultant company Roland Berger and Siemens. Available Online (link) [Last Accessed: 10.10.2018]
 Business Sweden Iberia, 2017, Digital Transformation in the Spanish Industry: Capturing the business opportunities. Available Online (link) [Last Accessed: 10.10.2018]
 Statista, 2015, Digitization key trends among Spanish companies in 2015. Available Online (link) [Last Accessed: 09.10.2018]
 Tim Hinchliffe, May 2018, 4 major political parties to present digital transformation agendas for Spain, Novobrief. Available Online (link) [Last Accessed: 08.10.2018]
 Stefanie Müller, 3 April 2018, How Spain’s rise to digital leader has gone under the radar, DW. Available Online (link) [Last Accessed: 11.10.2018]
 EY, 17 May 2018, Spain proposes digital services tax to be effective in 2018. Available Onine (link) [Last Accessed: 11.10.2018]
 iScoop: Digital Transformation. Available Online (link) [Last Accessed: 10.10.2018]
In the past decade and with increasing quantities, smart cities arose all over the world. A city is defined as ‘smart’ when it “uses information and communication technologies to increase operational efficiency, share information with the public and improve both the quality of government services and citizen welfare” . The key aspects of a smart city are smart technology and data analysis. You can think of, for example, emerging trends as automation, machine learning, and the Internet of Things (IoT). When these technologies are applied in a city, one can find features as smart traffic lights that respond to current traffic situations, autonomous buses, bike sharing services, and smart parking meters that indicate where parking lots are available via an app – and these are just examples in the citytransportation sector . For an overview of smart city features, take a look at the image below.
Herman van den Bosch 
Drivers behind smart city developments
Worldwide, several cities have the reputation of being ‘smarter’ than the rest. Of course, some of these cities have an environment or characteristic that makes them particularly suitable for developments in the smart technology area. For example, cities that are developing very fast in the past years and years to come can adopt smart city traits in their development plans and consequently create the optimal infrastructure for smart technologies to be applied to. These cities include many Asian cities such as Singapore, which the number one smart city in the world . On the other hand, some cities in the Western world have consciously chosen to invest heavily in smart technology and data analysis in order to gain a competitive advantage over other Western cities and attract businesses. All over Europe, selected cities apply an above average number of smart technologies in their municipality and thereby set themselves high above the rest of the European cities. Barcelona is one of them. In 2016, the Catalan capital was voted the second smart city in the world, behind Singapore (Juniper Research ). It is therefore not a surprise that the Smart City Expo World Congress is held in Barcelona this year, after its previous edition took place in Singapore last year.
The Smart City Expo World Congress of 2018
The SCEWC (Smart City Expo World Congress) is the leading global encounter on current urban issues and the smart technological revolution. It was first held in 2011, and it has managed to become the global benchmark event on developments in smart cities ever since . It facilitates a platform for networking, experiences and international business agreements, and it brings together the world’s top decision makers, professionals, and institutions in the context of urban development. This year, the SCEWC is held from 13th November to the 15th November 2018 at the Gran Via Exhibition Centre in Barcelona [1,3]. For more information, take a look on the event’s website (link). This year, the Catalan Government promotes the participation of regional companies in the Smart City Expo: a total of 20 Catalan companies and entities will be present in the Government stand, and over 150 other local companies will participate in the expo . Needless to say that the fact that the international expo is held in Barcelona, combined with the smart tech expertise that can be found in the city, offers many investment opportunities in Spain and boosts the Spanish economy.
Barcelona’s ‘smart’ traits
What is this ‘smart technology expertise’ that makes Barcelona one of the smartest cities of the world, and where does it come from? The development of Barcelona as a smart city started in 2012, when economic challenges were large, caused by the crisis of 2008. Upon taking office, the Mayor of Barcelona from 2011 to 2015 Xavier Trias formed a new team: ‘Smart City Barcelona’, tasked with integrating existing projects and identifying new opportunities to enhance services for all of the city’s people and businesses . The city originally deployed responsive technologies across twelve urban systems, including public transit, parking, street lighting, and waste management . These innovations provided significant cost savings, turned the city into a center for the (then emerging) IoT industry, and simultaneously improved the quality of life for residents.
Today, the city’s smart city plan is called ‘Roadmap to 2020’, and focuses on using open-source technology for a platform that is “more democratic and accessible” to find solutions for “long-term social and wage inequality, climate change, scarcity of natural resources, and employment” . In this roadmap, Barcelona recognizes the value of the large amount of data it possesses. Thus, the plan mentions that the municipality of Barcelona wants to be the sole owner of the network, platform, and data – in order to protect the data and consequently its residents . Yet, the city wants to ensure that people and companies can access information that belongs in the public realm, to improve overall efficiency . For an overview of Barcelona’s smart city traits, take a look at the Govtech article that summarizes all of the city’s activities with smart technologies (link). It is clear that Barcelona pioneers in the field of smart tech. If it maintains its position as innovator, this smart city will remain to be a large factor of the country’s overall good economic conditions.
 Smart City Expo World Congress 2018 website (link)
 Generalitat de Catalunya: The Smart City sector takes root in Catalonia (link)
 10 Times Trade Show information: Smart City Expo World Congress (link)
 Ross Tieman (26 October 2017), Barcelona: Smart city revolution in progress, Financial Times. Available Online (link) [Last Accessed: 26.09.2018]
 Jenny McGrath (24 July 2017), Tech is making life in Barcelona better, even if you don’t know it’s there, Digital Trends. Available Online (link) [Last Accessed: 26.09.2018]
 Laura Adler (19 February 2016), Is Barcelona the smartest city in the world?, GovTech. Available Online (link) [Last Accessed: 27.09.2018]
 Internet of Things (IoT) Agenda: Definition Smart Cities (link)
 Herman van den Bosch: Smart Cities: Slim, slimmer slimst (link)
The optical sector suffered, like many others, a big recession during the generalized economic crisis in 2008 and the years after. However, this is a thing of the past. Currently, it is in a moment of continuous growth and the most evident proof of this is that 2017 ended as the fourth consecutive year of growth.
According to data from the consulting firm GfK, the optics sector closed 2017 with a turnover of 0.5% higher than the previous year, which is 2,080 million euros. This figure gathers the sales of ophthalmic lenses, frames, contact lenses, sunglasses and maintenance products.
Analyzing the demand. How is the Spanish consumer?
According to the report El Observatorio Cetelem Consumo España 2017, regarding optical products, the Spanish consumer is nowadays demanding these products. In fact, “39% of the Spanish respondents have purchased a product related to optics in the last 12 months”.Likewise, in 2017 the Spanish consumer has increased by 48, 72% the expenditure destined for optical products, reaching an average cost of 231 euros.
Regarding the purchase channels, the Spanish buyer shows a more conservative attitude, preferring the physical store to online commerce, due to the fact that in Spain the treatment and personal advice of professionals are highly valued.
Moving to a more global vision, we now analyze the evolution of the other three main optical markets in the European Union: Italy, France, and Germany. In the four-country comparison, Spain was the second that has grown the most after Germany, a country that has registered an upturn of 3.2% in its turnover. Italy and France, however, have suffered from a negative evolution with falls of 1.4% and 1.6%, respectively by the end of 2017. Particularly striking is the case of France, where the market reflects changes in its legislation that limit the reimbursement to the user in the visual equipment of 150 euros.
On the other hand, the impact on the market of imports and exports that Spain makes in this sector is as important as direct sales within the national territory. The value of imports made in 2017 triples that of exports, which means that the balance of the trade balance in the optical sector is negative. This fact highlights the competition that exists in Spain within this sector, where not only national companies stand out, but also international companies have a vital importance that is increasing every year. In this way, the imports in the year 2017 have grown by 10.18% with respect to the previous year.
Figure elaborated by Dos Aguas Consulting
In terms of imports, the Italian and Chinese markets dominate the optics distribution. Italy is a leading country in the optical industry and China bases its power on an extremely attractive price. As for the exports, if we set aside Italy that leads the ranking by far, the distribution is much more homogeneous.
Figure elaborated by Dos Aguas Consulting
The growing trend of the market reflects that opportunities will continue increasing in the optical sector in Spain. A very needed industry for every society and that needs to be covered. This is to only way to help people alleviate the visual deficits, which are increasing among the population of Western countries.
Dos Aguas Consulting can contribute with our knowledge of the optical sector in many ways: from the particularities of the market and its regulations to outlining the profile of the Spanish consumer. In our work as a company specialized in advising and supporting international companies that want to invest in Spain, we can help you find clients and make a profitable business in the country. Get in touch with us, our trade advisors will help you!