How to interview “potential users” in Brazil

At Jana, Brazil is an important market for us. More than 25% of its 200m population is using Android smartphones and the need for cheaper mobile data is obvious.

In order to provide a best-in-class mobile experience to our users around the globe, we pride ourselves in constantly interviewing users, wherever there are. We publish surveys via SMS, interview users via video conferencing, and go in-market to interview random people in our target audience who may not be using our mcent app.

Interviewing potential users in Parque ibirapuera

Interviewing potential users in Parque ibirapuera in Sao Paulo, Brazil

The Questions

I went to Sao Paulo, Brazil, in November to just do that. My colleague Nicola and I wanted to learn about the following:

  • Do you use apps? If so, which ones and how did you discover them?
  • Do you purchase anything with your phone? If so, what do you purchase, and with which apps? If not, why?
  • How do you use your mobile data?

Since Jana aims at matching the right people to the right apps, understanding how a random sample of people would answer these 3 questions is core to our business. We wanted to keep the questions open-ended so that we learn in depth how people used their mobile phone.

Where to Meet

The first problem we encountered was to find the right place to meet a lot of people in our target audience in a convenient way. Our members tend to be young and tech savvy so we tested going to malls, universities and parks. It turned out that university cafes and parks were convenient since lots of people were “killing” time and were open to talk to us. In fact, only 2 out of roughly 25 people we asked to talk to refused our invitation to spend 15 minutes with us. This was awesome! We did not expect such a high rate of interest.

Some Cultural Adaptation – Duh!

A second problem is that you have to speak Portuguese to get something meaningful. Many tech-savvy Brazilians may understanding English but may not feel comfortable speaking it, especially if the conversation is complex. I was lucky that my colleague was Brazilian. I also noticed that Brazilians appreciate that people talking to them understand their culture, and that includes their language.

What we discovered

We took detailed notes of what was discussed, which we documented into our internal wiki.

Among many other things, we discovered these 3 trends:

  • Brazilians still mainly use their desktops to purchase things, though they may discover items to buy on their mobile phone.
  • The cost of mobile data is definitely a problem. Users have adapted to this by only using messaging apps and by waiting to have a wifi connection to use their phone. Our value prop of giving free Internet resonated well.
  • Brazilians discover apps through friends. So, word of mouth is huge.

The Bottom Line

All in all, interviewing people in your target audience in a foreign country is not simple but is a worthwhile experience. Be prepared 1) by asking the right questions and 2) by find the right place to meet people, 3) and by adapting to the culture.

Want to help us out?  As always, we’re hiring.





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