From Rural Stores to YouTube: Retail Marketing Insights from Carla at TIA Ecuador

Carla TIA

In this episode of the live ecommerce podcast, we spoke with Carla Paladines, the Digital Marketing Manager at TIA, about how this major Ecuadorian retailer is embracing digital transformation while still connecting with its community roots. Dive into an amazing retail marketing story!

An Overview of TIA

For those unfamiliar, TIA is like the Walmart of Ecuador – it has a retail presence in almost every town across the country’s 24 provinces. Started in 1960, TIA began as a physical supermarket chain. In 2020, TIA launched an ecommerce app and website, allowing customers to order food and household items online. They also have a chatbot to assist customers and connect them with local stores.

According to Carla, TIA aims to be a “meeting point” for families and communities, even in remote rural towns. Beyond just selling products, TIA also gives back through community initiatives. For example, they turn down the music in all stores at 4pm daily to be considerate to those with autism.

Blending Digital with Physical Retail

A key challenge TIA faces is bringing digital transformation to rural communities less familiar with ecommerce and online payments. To bridge this gap, TIA has digital kiosks inside physical stores where staff can walk customers through online ordering and answer questions face-to-face. This hybrid model builds digital trust while still providing the human touch.

According to Carla, customers from cities predominantly use the online channels, while rural customers still rely on physical stores. Lack of banking access and credit cards also prevents adoption in some areas. However, TIA is actively working to expand its digital offerings to make shopping more convenient across Ecuador.

Retail and where the unbanked live
Retail Banking and where the unbanked live.

Retail Marketing Strategy Across Channels

TIA has an omni-channel marketing presence across traditional and digital media. This includes TV, radio, influencer marketing on Instagram and TikTok, and organic social content. TIA was a YouTube early adopter! Since 2011, their owned YouTube channel called TIA TV has various shows on topics beyond just retail products, like cooking, sports, and news. The Channel main goal is to connect with younger audience, share and educate the community.

Carla explained that TV still accounts for 80% of ad spend in Ecuador, as it remains a trusted medium, especially in rural areas. However, TIA is expanding their influencer marketing through platforms to connect with younger audiences in an authentic, engaging way.

TIA is also looking to repurposes YouTube content into short videos for TikTok and Instagram Reels. Additionally, they are launching user-generated content campaigns where customers can create their own videos featuring TIA products. This organic, relatable content helps audiences feel part of the TIA community.

Key Takeaways for Retail Marketing Leaders

Here are some of the top insights retail marketers can take away from TIA’s digital marketing approach:

  • Leverage a mix of traditional and digital retail marketing to ensure you reach rural and urban audiences. Don’t ignore tried-and-true media.
  • Blend physical and digital retail for a seamless omni-channel experience. Meet customers where they are comfortable shopping.
  • Produce engaging content beyond just your products to form community connections. Entertain and educate customers.
  • Repurpose content across platforms and encourage UGC to maximize reach and authenticity.
  • Use influencer marketing to connect with younger demographics, but ensure influencers seem approachable.

TIA’s localization of digital retail for the Ecuadorian market provides an excellent model for bringing rural communities into the digital age. Their retail marketing strategies keep community always at the forefront.


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