Brazilian Market Research Surveys: Cultural Insights and Translation Tips
Updated: Sep 25
Doing Brazilian market research represents its own set of challenges, with a hugely diverse population in an enormous country. We’re going to look at some cultural and economic considerations to keep in mind when developing market research surveys for this highly dynamic country.
Official Name: Federative Republic of Brazil
Capital: Brasília Population: 200.4 million
Official Language: Brazilian Portuguese
Currency: Brazilian real
GDP: 2.246 trillion USD
Area: 8,514,215 sq. km. (3,287,357 sq. mi.)
Brazil—the world’s eighth largest economy—is a rich and diverse country that draws many market researchers. That’s why we’ve compiled a few interesting facts about the market research landscape in Brazil, a few aspects of the culture, and some tips for translations so that you and your team can get the most out of the time and money you invest in your research project.
Why Online Surveys Work Best in Urban Areas
It won’t be as easy to conduct market research in Brazil as in many other western countries where there’s higher Internet penetration. In 2015, only 49.8% of the Brazilian population had access to the Internet. These demographics are largely concentrated in more urban and more developed areas such as Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Pernambuco, Bahia, Ceará, Minas Gerais, Paraná, Rio Grande do Sul, and Distrito Federal (Brasília), where there is more of an infrastructure in place for internet access than in rural areas.
If your studies are limited to cities and regions such as these, you shouldn’t have any trouble gathering the data you’re after. According to one source, 90% of Brazilian internet users accessed the web from their homes, 60% of whom considered their homes their primary location for browsing. In other words, there’s large potential for conducting online surveys. You’ll just have to do a little more digging to determine which regions are more connected to the web.
Mobile Internet Access in Brazil—Conducting Mobile Market Research
Everyone in the market research industry knows by now that mobile surveys are pretty mainstream, and that there are now more people who access the internet through their mobile phones than their desktop computers. Things aren’t much different in Brazil—at least among those who do have access to the Internet. According to a report from the IBGE, the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics, 80.4% of people with access to the Internet accessed it with their mobile devices through their home networks, as opposed to 76.6% who primarily accessed the Internet through desktop computers.
But whether you use online or mobile surveys to conduct your research, you’ll want to have them localized for your Brazilian-Portuguese speaking respondents. By following best practices for mobile survey localization, you’ll go a long way in ensuring you save both time and money while conducting research in a market that’s already very expensive to begin with.
Why You Should Know The Language Commonly Used in Your Target Locale
It’s pretty common for us to hear from prospective clients that they’d like us to translate their documents into “international” or “neutral” Spanish or French. But there isn’t such thing as an “international” form of a language. The same goes for Portuguese. Generally speaking, there are two primary varieties of Portuguese (European and Brazilian), with various dialects in between. When a client asks us to translate their surveys into “international” or “neutral” Portuguese—a request that often arises from that assumption that if a survey is translated for one region, it can be used for another—we usually have to explain that European Portuguese wouldn’t be appropriate for the Brazilian market and vice versa (even though Brazilian Portugese is the Official tongue of both countries now).
Because of its colonial history, Brazilian Portuguese varies from European Portuguese not only in terms of pronunciation, but also in vocabulary. Over the centuries, Brazilian Portuguese developed into a language that incorporated words used by the slaves who were brought over from Africa, words deriving from French and Italian, and words coming from indigenous languages such as Tupí and Guaraní. Over time, Brazilian Portuguese began to take on its own unique markers that differentiated it from European Portuguese. The chart below highlights just a few of the differences:EnglishBrazilian PortugueseEuropean PortugueseFile Bus Suit Ice Cream Card Software Screen Train RefrigeratorArquivo Ônibus Terno Sorvete Placa Software Tela Trem GeladeiraFicheiro Autocarro Fato Gelado Cartão Logicial Écran, ecrã Comboio Frigorífico
Interacting with Brazilian Respondents
Brazilians are very friendly and have a natural willingness to be helpful, according to Juliana Mendonça, a Language Intelligence translator with many years of experience translating market research surveys. This natural willingness to be helpful may help you acquire a lot of interesting and reliable data, but there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind before going into interviews or when designing your surveys. According to Juliana, “due to the fear of being cheated or ripped off, and due to the great volume of all types of crimes, they might be very suspicious of someone’s intentions. It is important to establish a rapport either in person or through a person or institution they trust in order to proceed with a survey. This attitude might also lead to bogus answers on surveys.
So, people might think they’re answering or willing to answer, but the answers might not represent reality depending on the circumstances.” That aside, there are a number of sensitive issues you may want to be careful in addressing. The people of Brazil are currently very divided due to many years of political corruption, so any references to political parties or political preferences could be damaging to your company or study. It is also a country with many social problems, such as crime, violence, poverty, and a lack of education and access to health services. Understanding your target respondents can help you craft questions that are appropriate, resulting in better and more reliable data.
With the help of your local team in country—as well as your language services provider and professional translators—you’ll be able to understand your target respondents better right from the beginning. This will save you time and money in the long run and will help you develop actionable insights that your clients will come to value.
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