In MI Best Practices

We’ve covered some of the major hurdles to gathering reliable market data and intelligence in Latin America in a previous post. Though the conditions can be daunting, with the right contacts and experience, it’s absolutely possible to obtain confirmed, valuable market insights into Latin America.

Doing this has been a focus for Americas Market Intelligence. Here are some best practices for market research in Latin America that our team has developed after more than 20 years of experience in helping companies get rock-solid data for LatAm in verticals like payments, healthcare, logistics, natural resources/infrastructure and more.

#1 Consumer Surveys in Latin America


  • Wealthy people in LatAm can be secretive and hard to access
  • Research of lower socioeconomic classes in Latin America done door to door can be dangerous
  • Low landline penetration hampers phone surveys



  • Interview wealthy consumers face-to-face and rely on “snowball” sampling to grow sample sizes
  • Use intercept interviews to conduct mass market surveys designed to poll multiple socioeconomic layers
  • Use Internet surveying for the upper middle class
  • Avoid asking anyone directly how much money their household earns or invests

#2 Qualitative Consumer Research in Latin America


  • Different socioeconomic groups won’t mix well in one focus group
  • Wealthy Latin Americans can be offended by cash incentives
  • We’ve observed that Latin American women over the age of 30 tend to grow quieter in mixed-gender focus groups
  • Few moderators can be effective in more than one or two countries



  • Budget accordingly: although focus groups cost 25% less in Latin America than in other markets, more are needed to ensure quality participants and interaction
  • If you’re researching more than one socioeconomic group, organize separate sessions for each level
  • Focus groups for wealthy Latin Americans work best in upscale restaurants because a free meal is a solid incentive and the environment puts participants at ease
  • If your research target group is over age 25, it’s best to budget for enough focus groups to separate men from women


#3 Business Research in Latin America


  • Latin American C-level executives of large firms don’t respond well to impersonal techniques such as phone or Internet—unless they’re referred by a trusted contact
  • Small businesses may not have an landline with Internet access
  • Business contact lists are limited and often not quality
  • Latin American companies often guard their information secretively
  • Certain LatAm industry sectors have gray or black market components



  • Interviews with high-level executives almost always need to be done in person
  • Budget for developing good sampling lists
  • When converting quantitive surveys into market size, incorporate the size of the gray or black market into the calculations
  • Interview questions should not ask directly about sensitive information: profits, market share, sales


#4 Competitive Intelligence in Latin America


  • Annual reports of multinational corporations operating in Latin America rarely include regional- or market-level data
  • Industry expert companies are often restricted by NDAs or staffed by desk analysts who have different skill sets from those of a competitive intelligence professional
  • Intrusive methods—often used in Latin American competitive intelligence gathering—can put companies seeking this intelligence in a precarious legal position
  • The straightforward approach of interviewing competitors rarely yields results



  • Budget accordingly: competitor profiling in Latin America can be 2-3 times more expensive than in other markets
  • For field-level competitive intelligence, hire a competitive intelligence professional instead of an industry analyst
  • Use mystery shopping heavily
  • Talk to third-party distributors in order to profile your competitors: they can be very solid sources
  • Make sure you approve all competitive intelligence methods used by the company you hire to ensure legal compliance


Contact Americas Market Intelligence to avoid pitfalls by working with the premier market intelligence company for Latin America: leverage their decades of experience to get the data your company needs.




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