How to build research communities in Brazil

In a previous blog we already talked about some general guidelines to consider when conducting Online Research Communities (MROCs) in BRIC countries. In this article we want to focus on Brazil as there are some important takeaways we should take into account when conducting MROCs in Brazil.

  1. Conversation framework: Brazilians tend to have a flexible attitude; a very tight schedule doesn’t work for them. Therefore the conversation roadmap shouldn’t be fixed.
  2. Recruitment: Brazil has the 2nd highest Facebook penetration in the world, after the US. Inviting participants through their social networks ensures a higher success rate.
  3. Moderation: The talkative nature of Brazilians generates lots of interesting bottom-up discussions, but should be regulated by a moderator who functions as a guide. So keep the overview of the community and highlight the social corner.

Viva Brazil!

There are some adaptations we have to make in each BRIC country: think about our local moderator network or the main focus on urban areas. Cultural differences require an adapted approach. Small twists in the community process result in a huge impact. After all, it’s not about changing the ingredients but about changing the recipe. We asked Brazilian participants in an online discussion group how they would describe themselves.
Let’s start with a little exercise… think about a typical Brazilian inhabitant. What does he or she look like? What are his or her main characteristics? Got it?
Now a second exercise: do you recognize any of the people in the pictures below?

BRIC_Brazilian people

Did your imaginary Brazilian inhabitant look anything like any of these people?
All the people above have two things in common: they’re all Brazilian and they’re all celebrities. And the fact that they all look so different is really striking.

  • Indeed, the Brazilian culture is all about diversity. Brazil is actually called ‘the rainbow country’, because so many different cultures and races are living together.
  • Furthermore Brazilian people are very connected with each other: their openness is legendary. This openness could also lead to a certain level of nonchalance: punctuality is not all that important.
  • When you were thinking about ‘your’ typical Brazilian inhabitant, were you also thinking about a very outgoing and dynamic person? This dynamic character also implies a lot of high maintenance: something always has to happen.

These characteristics make a good climate for conducting a community. Not only the cultural context but also the research context is in our favour: being one of the most emerging countries in the world, Internet penetration in Brazil is high. Not very surprisingly, social networking is one of the most favoured online activities. Both international and local social networks are frequented. The Brazilians are quite familiar with online research and like to share their view as a consumer with companies.

Let’s connect!

Let’s take a typical Brazilian participant as an example: Meet Laura, mom of two, aged 29, living in Rio and teaching math to children aged 10 to 12. How should we adapt the most important touch points of a community in order to give Laura the best experience and for us to gain the best results?

BRIC_typical Brazilian participant

  1. Use her social network

    Laura prefers being contacted by e-mail. It is just more convenient and saves time. However, it should be safe: scams and viruses make her suspicious. A recommendation from or a referral to someone of her network make the e-mail reliable. Recruitment via social networks or even offline can certainly work as well: personal contact is appreciated. Laura is already quite active on her online social network: integrating this into the community is a good feature. It doesn’t only remind her about the community, but also makes it easier for her to share her experience with others.

  2. Make her feel comfortable in an online social environment

    For Laura, an important aspect of the community is the fact that it is time-saving. She likes face-to-face contact, but her busy family life and her broad social network make it difficult to spend lots of time on research. An informal approach (e.g. Social Corner, chat sessions, personal contact with the moderator) make her feel comfortable and more inclined to open up. This social and informal environment also allows her to learn from the opinions of others. She therefore also expects commitment from her fellow participants as well as from the moderator. Her motivation will rise throughout others, not necessarily intrinsically throughout herself. The kick-off session at the start of the community is crucial: it is a perfect moment to interact with others, but also a chance to get to know the company. Laura likes to know who she is doing the effort for. She likes to be treated as an equal and feel to be heard by the company. If not, her motivation will drop rapidly.

  3. Keep structure in the chaos

    One would think that a moderator in Brazil should be a peer of the participants, informal and easy-going. Laura sees it differently: she wants and needs someone who guides her through the questions and the whole process of the community. The moderator is the one who probes discussions, but also who intervenes when a discussion heats up. The social corner (the place to discuss serious topics: politics, ethical issues etc.) interests her as well. The moderator should also be present here: Laura hates it if there are too many big egos in the community: it makes her opinion look less important.

Some takeaways we should keep in mind:

  • The social aspect of the community will be of high importance
  • Timings on the community should be flexible
  • Variation in topics, moderation and tools will be key in order to keep participants engaged
  • Context factors are favourable to conduct successful online research communities

Want to know more about communities in BRIC? Stay tuned for the next blog post about Russia! Or find out more about our recent Philips Sleep Well Community, how Philips uncovered insights on sleeping problems in China. Still can’t get enough? Test your knowledge and play the game!

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