When you think of Brazil, your mind likely wanders to what makes the country so special: beaches, rainforests, soccer, Carnival, and more. Between its unique cuisine, its outgoing culture, its diverse geography, and, yes, its legendary parties, no one ever accused Brazil of being a boring place to live (or visit!).
But more important to brand marketers and business researchers: Brazil is the largest economy in South America and the eighth largest economy in the world. And despite the country’s recent well-documented financial struggles and political turmoil, Brazil still may offer exceptional opportunities for brands that are looking to expand into markets south of the equator.
The only way to know if this market is a good fit for your brand is to do your homework. There are a number of factors to consider before you launch any market research project in Brazil. Here are five of the biggest ones:
1) A Tale of Two Countries
When it comes to consumer influence in Brazil, everything starts in the country’s southeast region. That’s where some of the country’s largest metropolitan centers of São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Belo Horizonte are located. Survey panels tend to skew more towards this region due to both internet penetration as well as population size and wealth. While Brasilia is the capital city, much of the country’s qualitative research is conducted in São Paulo, which is by far Brazil’s largest city, with a population that’s almost twice the size of the nation’s second largest city (Rio).
The northeast and north regions, by contrast, are less educated and much less affluent. About 44.7% of the population in the northeast classifies as socioeconomic level D or E, which qualify these citizens as near or below the poverty level. As a result, much of the population that falls under this socioeconomic level is functionally illiterate, which significantly limits their ability to comprehend and interpret questionnaires
Given these stark differences, it’s very challenging to achieve a truly representative national sample in Brazil, so a mixed methodology is still needed to ensure the most representative samples.
2) The Value of Human Connections
Relationships are very important to Brazilians and personal connections are critical to getting strong and reliable insights inside the country. Building trust with Brazilian respondents is very important and should be a prominent part of any recruiting strategy. Brazilians tend not to share opinions before a relationship has been established. This is particularly the case for street intercepts and qualitative work. Once trust is in place and they understand why their contribution is important, a typical Brazilian is much more likely to open up and share experiences and opinions that deliver the richest insights.
The best way to make powerful connections is to work with a trusted partner, someone who’s fluent with the Brazilian culture and understands how to get to a place of trust through empathy and authenticity.
3) Going to Extremes
Brazilians are known for their passion, and this enthusiasm translates into higher positive ratings, on both verbal and numerical scales. That’s a big departure from Asian cultures, which are traditionally averse to extreme ratings out of fear of being impolite (although this phenomenon has shifted in recent years, especially in China). For example, a mean rating of 6.0 for Chinese respondents and 9.0 for Brazilians on a 10-point scale might not necessarily mean that Asians are less enthusiastic about the product or its attributes than South Americans; they simply might be trying to avoid effusive praise in order to conform to their cultural norms. Brazilians, on the other hand are very keen to express their feelings and even tend to exaggerate their opinions. If your goal is to compare Brazil to other countries, you might want to consider using non-scaled question types that enforce consistent response patterns, despite culture-dependent response tendencies.
By the way, if you want to get Brazilian respondents really fired up, ask them about religion, politics, or soccer. Let’s just say that they have opinions on those subjects, and they’re not shy about it!
4) Check the Tech
Brazil is the largest internet market in Latin America and the fourth largest in the world by number of users. However, given the country’s expansive terrain, online respondents remain clustered around those same southeast urban hubs where most market research is already focused. Brazil is a Web 2.0 population which never experienced Web 1.0, so there’s little tolerance for old-fashioned survey designs.
Much like in the rest of the world, mobile connections in Brazil are quickly becoming a viable alternative to traditional fixed-line connections. In 2018, the average mobile download and upload speeds in Brazil increased 27% over the prior year. The most recent data suggests that there are now at least 81 million mobile internet users in Brazil, which accounted for nearly 40% of the population. By 2021, these figures are expected to increase to 113 million and 52%, respectively. All these numbers point to one important takeaway: it is essential to apply a mobile-friendly design to any online surveys in Brazil.
5) Respect the Data Privacy Laws
Brazil’s first comprehensive general data privacy law (“Lei Geral de Proteção de Dados Pessoais,” or “LGPD”) goes into effect on February 2020. The law’s key provisions emulate the EU’s General Data Privacy Regulation (GDPR), and although it is much leaner than the GDPR, it is very similar in context, structure and rationale. It also includes significant extraterritorial application. As a result, the new rules apply not only to companies established in Brazil, but also to entities that process or collect data from citizens inside the country, and to companies that offer or supply goods and services to individuals in Brazil.
When choosing a partner for Brazilian research in 2020 and beyond, be sure that it is properly prepared to comply with the regulations set forth by LGPD. The downside is that compliance measures may increase research costs inside Brazil, which are already more expensive than almost any other Latin American country due to higher taxes, benefits, and labor costs. For example, the average research project in Brazil costs about 30% more than the average research project in Mexico.
Given the country’s size and complexity, there’s no doubt that Brazil is one of the most challenging markets to research. But by taking into account these five factors, you’ll be better prepared to discover important insights that will help you make smart and informed business decisions. And once you gain a firm grasp of what consumers want in South America’s largest country, it will make it that much easier to study and understand other nations on the continent