When addressing projects in LATAM we should take into consideration a number of key aspects that ensure the quality of the project. Here are some reflections made by the team at the offices of The Cocktail Analysis in Mexico and Colombia, which has also led projects in other countries in the region (such as Brazil, Argentina, Ecuador, …), that will help you ensure the success of UX research projects.
First and foremost, local peculiarities should be taken into account in order to pose a representative sample of the LATAM universe.
When carrying out UX Research Projects, one of the first activities is, based on the objectives of the project, to define a representative sample that not only reflects the target of the product to be assessed, but also considers the sociodemographic and cultural peculiarities of the LATAM market. Some of these peculiarities are:
- The importance of the Socioeconomic status: In most Latin American countries there are government entities that measure and segment the population according to their economic situation. It is convenient to use this information to raise a sample that takes into account the different perspectives of each population segment and the relevance of each one; this becomes crucial if we consider that the class distribution is very different among regions and social gaps between classes are even bigger both, economic and cultural level, when it comes to consumer habits.
- The geographic dispersion: It is advisable to consider that, due to the big size of most Latin American countries, it is common to find substantial differences in the perception and the behaviour of the user/consumer depending on the city they live in. If possible, it is ideal to select a sample that includes the most important cities in the target country. Keeping in mind the object of study, if it is feasible, consider rural locations.
- Low levels of Bancarization: It is important to perform a general search on the levels of banking services in the target country, since in LATAM these are usually below the world average. If they are not taken into account, this can skew the results of the research. Furthermore, it is possible that the usage barrier of a product is solely due to that the payment method is not available or usual in the selected country.
- Devices: If the research is focused on mobile, there are statistics that show the Smartphone penetration and the market shares of Android and iOS in each country. Generally, the Android market share is majority compared to the iOS.
- Do not underestimate the ability of the consumer: Even though it may seem that the digital market in Latin America is still in its infancy, reality shows an extense variety of consumption styles according to the technological knowledge of the user ranging from the most basic to a segment which behaves very similar to the way consumers in mature markets do, so it is important to consider this variety in the sample.
The selection of the participants for the tests is a very sensitive aspect that needs special attention and care. It is recommended to have the greatest control and care about the recruitment, especially in less mature markets, where this task is less professional. Some elements that from The Cocktail Analysis are considered for this task can be carried out in a successful way:
- Flexibility and opening with the recruitment agency: It is convenient to consider the agency as part of the team. In this way, if there are some complexities (E.g. it is difficult to find a profile or a participant has already canceled) the agency will have the confidence to tell you and offer you viable solutions.
- Anticipate the recruitment: We advise you to ask the recruitment agency to start the searching of the participants at least 2 weeks before the fieldwork and to give you constant feedback during this time: this will help to avoid drop outs and to plan the best schedule possible. Thus, the recruitment agency can formalize the invitation to the participants few days before the fieldwork is carried out so they have a clear schedule on mind that enables them to know if they will be available for the interview or the session.
- Consider backups: Depending on the size of the sample, it is recommended to consider a fair number of backups: so that, if a participant is unable to attend, he/she can be replaced quickly. Although this is a common practice in research, in Latin America it becomes very important because of traffic issues and displacements in large cities.
- Preventive Schedule: In most major Latin American cities transport times are very long due to the large size of its cities and the consequent mobility problems this entails. So it is highly advisable to choose a schedule in which there is at least 30 minutes between each interview: if an interview is delayed, there is enough spare time so it is not necessary to rush things up.
Be patient, plan with anticipation and understand the culture of the country where you are in:
- “Tropicalize”: When making a discussion guide or screener it is necessary to approach and to learn a little about the colloquial vocabulary used in the country to refer to digital terminology. For example, “computadora” in Mexico and “computador” in Colombia, “café” in Mexico and “tinto” in Colombia. A proper vocabulary always make the participants feel more comfortable.
- Internet Connection Stability: The quality of Internet services in Latin America in terms of signal and speed is often limited. If the tests planned for research requires an intensive use of Internet, you always have to perform speed tests at key points where the research will be carried out one day before the field day.
- Facilities: It is important to choose a place that is well connected in order to facilitate the displacement of participants (close to major access routes, close to public transport, with parking available, …)
- Courtesy Bias: Culturally in Latin America there is usually a courtesy bias. In our experience, the same product assessed via survey in Spain, USA and LATAM, initially it is always better valued in LATAM. Therefore, when participants are asked to express their opinion, it is necessary to be emphatic at the time of telling them they are free to say whatever they think and if something does not like them, they can honestly say it. Otherwise, you will probably just find comments like “I love it!” and “It’s great!”. Another example in this line is, if you are planning to apply a SUS questionnaire (Standard Usability Scale) to evaluate the usability of your product, take into account that the results tend to be a little higher because culturally Latinos are prone to assess positively the new services, products and interfaces.