Market Research Challenges and Opportunities within Latin America (LATAM)
Updated: Oct 1, 2019
LATAM is a highly dynamic region that presents both challenges and opportunities for businesses and market research. In this article we highlight practical considerations to help get the most from market research in Latin America.
The diverse LATAM region
Latin America (LATAM) consists for four geographical regions, thirty-three countries and is home to over 655 million people (source: 2019 www.worldometers.info). Its population, natural resources and growth (in some countries) make it a strategic opportunity for many companies. However, just a quick look at country statistics reveals significant differences in terms of size and economic performance and that is before considering social and political differences.
The diversity is further demonstrated in the Worldatlas overview the economies of the richest five countries in South America and their different GDP components.
A key aspect of the LATAM region is its energy and volatility as seen in current events:
The crisis in Venezuela, with its hyperinflation, social unrest, food and medical shortages has resulted in over three million people fleeing to neighbouring countries. Events in Venezuela impact neighbouring countries and sanctions on its oil industry affect European and global economies.
The election of Jair Bolsonaro as Brazil’s president, has been described by the New York Times as “the nation’s most radical political change since democracy was restored more than 30 years ago”.
These two examples illustrate the changing environment and the multiple challenges it presents for businesses operating in or considering entry into the region and the importance of having up-to-date market information. However, getting good quality information through market research (both primary and secondary or desk research) is harder compared with European countries or the US for example.
We first need to look at several factors to appreciate why LATAM market research can require different approaches compared with other regions.
Sources can be limited, updated infrequently and vary considerably in terms of overall quality.
Information sources are less accessible online, requiring local connections and knowledge of sources.
Published information quickly becomes out of date.
Corruption varies by country and can distort published information in terms of availability, quality and impartiality. This is especially the case where the information has financial implications such as reported company turnover.
B2B and B2C databases are often poorly maintained leading to additional lead qualification and wasted effort.
Internet penetration is improving but remains low among the lower socio-economic groups.
Landline penetration is lower compared with European countries.
Online panels are growing, but quality can be an issue as people can mislead to earn incentives.
An absence of trust is often seen in both professional and day-to-day interactions until relationships have been established. LATAM businesses are considerably less likely to respond to telephone or online research and are less willing to share information compared with their European counterparts.
Limited intellectual property protection and its lack of enforcement means clients need to be sensitive to the information they share.
This can often require modifying approaches and making creative and considered use of available information sources as well as having open discussions with clients about project feasibility and the practicalities of conducting market research within the region.
Value of Market Research in LATAM
As we increasingly expect Google to have all the answers, LATAM presents market researchers with the opportunity to really demonstrate our craft, using well considered approaches that deliver insights that could not otherwise found. Local experts are an invaluable part of the market research process, essential for building rapport with respondents and critical to delivering real understanding.
Fundamentally, successful research needs to bring the energy, passion and creativity of the LATAM region into designing the best solution for each client.
Any market research needs to be acted upon if it is to have value. In rapidly changing markets companies have a requirement to act quicker. Similarly, market research needs to be conducted quickly and refreshed more frequently to ensure it is still relevant and accurate.
We appreciate you taking the time out to read our blog and hope it proves useful in making your market research a success. For more information please visit our website. Alternatively, please get in touch and we will be happy to help.
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