written by Kristin Cavallaro
Online research is growing fast in Latin America; specifically in Mexico, Brazil and Argentina. However, there is still much that US researchers don’t know about this area. Aside from the cultural and behavioral aspects of the Latin American regions, many of us in the US are unaware of traditional social demographics and the impact they will have on our studies. Researchers love to target and balance based on social demographics…Usually balancing to Nat Rep. This can cause some issues if the Nat Rep demographics are not present in an online environment.
Let’s look at an example, shall we?
A large proportion of researchers use some sort of economic variable to balance on or weight against; whether it be income or social economic class. If we use Brazil as our illustration, we can see below that the distribution of social economic classes are different. In the Nat Rep (representative of the Brazilian population) we can see that the DE segment is quite large. Brazil is considered to be an emerging market in the global economy, but in reality, the urban areas hold the majority of the wealth. Rural areas are still rather poor given the SEC standards of coding.
When we look at the online distribution of SEC codes on Brazil, we see that the DE segment is now very small. How can there be this much of a difference in social class distribution? We can begin by looking at the definition of the D and E segments as defined by zonalatina.com:
We can clearly see from these descriptions that the people falling into these economic segments most likely do not have a computer at home never mind internet services. However we do see that some people in these segments are online (approximately 8%)….are they lying? Not necessarily. It is possible that people in the D and E SEC segments have access to the internet at work. At SSI, we have D and E people profiled on our panel in Brazil. However upon further investigation, we found that the response rates of the D and E segments were on average much lower than the higher SEC segments. For example, the SEC codes A-C averaged around a 15% each while DE was more like 4%. This strengthens the belief that respondents in the DE segments have limited access to internet and therefore may be using it only at work.
Is this a problem for research? It depends on what your research is. If your research project is about judging brand awareness of shampoo or testing the concept of a new frozen dinner, then no, this should not make a difference to your study. As we read in the description above, people in the D and E segments typically do not purchase or use convenience goods. Therefore, they would not reside in your target market. However, if your study was about calculating the literacy rate of children in Brazil, then we would suggest using alternative methods of research such as face-to-face interviewing, or a mixed methodology approach.