Sylver Consulting’s President, Brianna Sylver, and Mozilla’s User Experience Research Manager, Cori Schauer, recently shared background and insights from their collaborative work together in Latin America at Northwestern’s Segal Design Institute. Their presentation, “Designing for the Next 2 Billion Users: Firefox OS Focuses on Emerging Markets,” showcased how their collaborative efforts to understand the values, aspirations and mobile behaviors of the Brazilian Middle Class consumer impacted the development of Mozilla’s new Firefox OS device.
You can view the entire presentation below or by clicking HERE
A few years ago, I had the privilege of working on the U.S. Census Bureau communications study in advance of the 2010 Census. The Census Bureau and its agency of record, Draftfcb, wanted to test some communications concepts among various racial, ethnic and language-based segments of the population. So, the research team I was on conducted two waves of focus groups all over the U.S. and Puerto Rico, recording our participants’ responses to a variety of TV animatics and print ads.
When you’re working on a study like this, you can’t help but think about how people are being asked to slap some kind of “label” on themselves that might not fit within their own frames of reference. The 2010 Census form increased the number of options you could use to describe your racial and ethnic background and included some country-specific write-in boxes, so it wasn’t quite as narrowly structured as it had been in years past.
Question 5 from the 2010 Census asked about Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origins, which are considered “ethnicities” rather than races.
Question 6 asked about racial background, which seemed to me like a strange mishmash of skin colors, regions and countries.
Fast forward a few years to 2013, when we have a new Argentinian pope in the Vatican (does he think of himself as Latino?), a second-term president who’s black father was from Kenya and white mother from Kansas (does he think of himself as biracial?) and new immigration legislation on the table which will could affect multitudes of future hyphenated ”______-Americans” (should you insert your country or region of origin here and, if so, which one?).
At Sylver, we wanted to find out more about what the typical individual living in America would prefer to be called if someone asked, so we conducted a simple nationwide qualitative study. Here were some of our findings:
- Participants gave us a very full range of responses, with no clear consensus of opinion.That wasn’t what we were hoping for, but it’s still a finding.
- While some wanted to be referred to by color (black or white), because that is simply how they view themselves, just about as many others preferred a hyphenated or unhyphenated “______+ American” descriptor (e.g., European-American, Pakistani American). For some in this latter camp, they said adding their region or country helped them feel connected to their heritage. Still others in our study said they wanted to think of themselves as just plain “American” or even “human.”
- “Black” and “white” as descriptors were viewed by some as positive or straightforward and by others as quite negative and not very precise.
Here is one of the questions we asked and a few verbatim responses from our participants:
Q: Thinking about the U.S. Census Bureau classifications (which we had exposed in previous questions) — but not limiting yourself to them — how would you personally prefer to describe your racial, ethnic and/or cultural background if someone asked you about it?
In the comment box, please finish this sentence …. “I would prefer to be called ___________ because _________________________.”
“I would prefer to be called mixed race because of my Japanese and Mexican heritage, even though I am mostly white.”
“I would prefer to be called Caucasian because that has fewer negative overtones (e.g., “white supremacist”) than “white.”
“American … it’s complicated.”
“Black — it gets right to the point and makes it clear to everyone.”
“Human because we all originated from the same place.”
So, as you can see, it is complicated. Bottom line, there is no doubt that “labels” such as these can be useful in census taking, research, market segmentation, advertising and communications, journalism and so on. But as a society, we should also be conscious that labels don’t always resonate and can potentially alienate individuals.
One last note … National Public Radio recently launched a new blog about race, ethnicity and culture in America called “Code Switch,” so we’ll be keeping an eye on that. In the meantime, do you have any thoughts you’d like to share on this topic? We welcome your comments. And thank you to all who participated in our study.
Sylver’s founder and president, Brianna Sylver, announced today that she, along with Mozilla’s user experience research lead, Cori Schauer, will be speaking at Northwestern University on May 7, 2013. In their one hour talk, Sylver and Schauer will dive into their topic, “Designing for the Next 2 Billion Users: Firefox OS Focuses on Emerging Markets” where they will share key learnings and impacts of Sylver Consulting and Mozilla’s collaborative work together in Brazil and Colombia.
Mozilla has designed an open mobile platform to bring the Internet to a new set of users in emerging markets. Firefox OS is set to launch into emerging markets worldwide beginning Summer 2013. During the presentation, attendees will get an opportunity to see the device, learn about its development and appreciate what it means to truly know your user and how that knowledge has supported Mozilla in creating a better user experience.
The public is invited to attend this event on May 7, 2013 from 4-5pm CST at Northwestern University’s Ford Motor Company Engineering Design Center located at 2133 Sheridan Rd, Room 1.350 in Evanston, IL 60208.
I’m brimming with excitement and pride as I write this post today.
Sylver Consulting has conducted numerous projects in Brazil, spanning government and automotive to healthcare and consumer goods. Occasionally, we can’t help but notice certain trends rising across multiple clients and studies. No trend has been more prevalent in recent years than clients wanting to understand how to capture the attention of Brazilian emerging middle class consumers, a segment that represents more than 50% of the Brazilian population or approximately 100 million people.
It’s an understatement to say, “Everyone wants a piece of this pie.” Who wouldn’t? But, we’ve also experienced major misconceptions about who the middle class, or the C class, consumer of Brazil is and the best way to capture a piece of this consumer’s wallet.
This brings me to the reason I am so excited … Sylver has developed a three-part video series about the middle class consumer of Brazil. Today, we’re publishing Part 1 of that series: Defining Brazil’s Emerging Middle Class.
Enjoy! We’d love to hear your thoughts and answer any questions you might have. Feel free to leave a comment below or reach out to us via e-mail or phone.
Adriano Galvao and I had the pleasure of attending the 2013 Kellogg Latin America Business Conference on Saturday, March 2 on Northwestern University’s campus in Evanston, Illinois. Titled “Introducing the Real Latin America,” the conference delivered on its promise to provide a behind-the-scenes look at the region and to challenge stereotypical notions.
A few of the highlights:
- During the e-commerce panel, César Salazar from venture capital firm 500 Startups forecasted a considerable rise in smartphone usage in Mexico. He predicted that in the not-too-distant future — and this probably holds true beyond Mexico and Latin America — “E-commerce will just be called commerce.” He also noted that Latin Americans value good service, but are accustomed to receiving very poor service. (He used a more colorful expression than “very poor” and got some laughter from the audience.) His point was that a company that can deliver truly good service will receive a warm welcome in the region. If you can delight the people who aren’t used to being delighted all the time, that would be something indeed.
- Also on the e-commerce panel was Lucas Mendes, director of São Paulo-based Beleza Na Web, the second largest online beauty provider in Brazil. He said that for Brazilian startups like his, finding talent is the biggest problem because “The A-people don’t want to work for a startup.” He added that the entrepreneurial community in Brazil is small and the chances of making it as a startup are slim, but he encouraged any would-be entrepreneurs in the room by saying, “Just do it. You will probably fail, but it will be a hell of a ride.” The panelists agreed that there are opportunities for Latin Americans — and non-Latin Americans — to start businesses in Brazil and the region.
- The “Family Business in Latin America” panel made it clear how important family is to Latin Americans and how family businesses truly shine in the region. Mario Ceratti Benedetti from Italian sausage company Ceratti, S.A. commented that his company has protocols in place to deal with succession and conflict between family members. His children are getting excellent educational and professional experience, so they can one day perhaps be leaders of the business. (One of his daughters is currently an MBA student at Kellogg.)
- The CEO of a family business (but not one of the family members), David Palfenier of Seara Alimentos mentioned that he has developed a framework to help maintain some of the culture of how the family used to run the business before his time there. It can be a challenge, he said, but he tries to stay as close to them as possible. César Salazar jumped in to say how difficult it can be when family members sometimes get together for Sunday lunch and make major decisions without you.
- Keynote speaker Christian Laub from Credicorp, one of the Kellogg LABC sponsors, was outwardly trolling for talent among the Kellogg MBA students in attendance. He gave a great presentation about how his Peru-based financial services company is acquiring other players in the region, most notably in Chile and Colombia — and will be rebranding these newly combined banks with a single identity in April 2013.
- Lastly, our own Adriano did a great job moderating a panel on “The Transformation of Latin American Industry,” which featured representation from Brazil, Mexico and Colombia.
Panelist Kenneth Mendiwelson, founder of Refinancia, emphasized that Colombia and other countries need more “heros” — entrepreneurs who demonstrate that is possible to be successful in Latin America.
All in all, it was a great day — oh, I almost forgot to mention the Latin America-inspired lunch! I really enjoyed the ceviche and sparkling conversation with a group of Kellogg students, most of whom were originally from Chile. Thanks to the Kellogg Class of 2013 student team, who organized and managed the event.
So, I don’t know about you, but when I’m traveling overseas — or even when I’m just touring around domestically — I’m absolutely fascinated listening to the multitude of languages, dialects and accents I hear along the way — waiting in the security line, getting settled on a plane, checking into my hotel. I’m always thinking, wouldn’t it be great if I could say “hello” or “thank you” or “goodbye” in the language the other person speaks? I don’t mean necessarily striking up a random conversation with just anyone — I tend to focus more on the people I am interacting with for a good reason — there is usually some kind of transaction or exchange of information going on.
If you think about it, an amazing number of people in the world can speak at least some English, for which I am very grateful, so it seems like acknowledging their original languages and places of origin would be the right thing to do — if you could do it right.
I’m not a linguistics expert by any means, but I like to think that every language has certain telltale signs that differentiate it from every other language. But that doesn’t always work in a practical sense. For example, if you hear someone say something that sounds like “ney” — it could be “no” in Dutch or “yes” in Korean — so the context — where you are and who the speaker is — is key. I try to store new words, phrases and pronunciations in “Evernote” on my smartphone, so I can call on them when I need them. Livemocha.com and Duolingo.com are two other language learning resources worth checking out.
But for me, the easiest way to find out someone’s first language is to ask politely in English where he or she is from originally (assuming there is a chance the person speaks English in the first place). As long as my request appears to come from a place of sincere curiosity and courtesy, most people are happy to answer my question. Some even beg me to guess! I had one taxi driver in Dallas who was shocked because I correctly guessed he was from Somalia. He looked so tall and lanky like the famous fashion model Iman, so it wasn’t that much of a stretch. But in other cases, I have been completely stumped. The Egyptian bellman in Sydney — he could have been from so many places around the world — I had no clue just based on his looks or his accent.
Taxi drivers and hospitality workers all over the world have been enormously helpful in my quest to say small words in many languages with a halfway decent accent. I have also been helped by Google Translate, many of my friends who speak English as a second language, our overseas research partners and fellow travelers. So, to all of you, I say “shukran,” “xièxiè,” “spasibo,” … I could go on and on, really. So let me just say “thanks.”
Sylver Consulting, the international innovation research and strategy firm, will be in good company on the first Saturday in March, as it convenes with industry leaders and entrepreneurs interested in the evolving business landscape in Latin America.
Sylver’s founder and president, Brianna Sylver, announced today that the company’s vice president, Adriano Braun Galvao, will be moderating the Transformation of Latin American Industry panel at the Kellogg Latin America Business Conference on March 2, 2013. The event will be held at the James L. Allen Center at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management in Evanston, Illinois, USA. According to Kellogg, this year’s conference, titled Introducing the Real Latin America, will “invite conference participants to challenge the traditional notions of what defines Latin America, urging them to look beyond buzz words associated with Latin America and gain an understanding of what really drives the region.”
The Latin America Business Conference is one of the most distinguished events held at Kellogg, which is consistently ranked among the top business schools in the world. Conference planners aim to provide a platform whereby attendees “gain valuable insights and walk away with actionable understanding of the outlook for the future of Latin America.” Both business leaders from Latin America and those residing in the U.S. with expertise in the region will contribute to the conversation of the day.
The panel being moderated by Mr. Galvao, a native of the capital city of Brasilia in Brazil, will discuss the evolution of Latin American economies, infrastructure and business opportunity for both traditional industries and breakthrough organizations. Featured speakers on this panel include: Aaron Dychter, founder and president of ADHOC Consultores Asociados, A.C.; Kenneth Mendiwelson, founder and CEO of Refinancia; and Rogerio Rizzi de Oliviera, principal at Monitor Deloitte.
To learn more about the upcoming conference, you can watch the video below and visit them at http://www.kellogg.northwestern.edu/labconference/index.html.
Sylver Consulting’s Rebecca S. Kuchar and Adriano B. Galvao sat down to discuss a topic near and dear to their hearts — research and innovation in Brazil and other Latin American markets.
RSK: Adriano, as someone who was born in Brazil and is now living in the U.S., you’ve been fortunate to conduct a considerable amount of research in both countries. What are some of the biggest differences you’ve seen between American and Brazilian consumers?
ABG: Brazilian consumers have changed a lot since the early 1990s, when Plano Real (the “Real Plan”) was established and successfully brought economic stability to the country. In general, I think there are more similarities than differences between American and Brazilian consumers these days. For example, Brazilians will spend more than they earn and more than half are already in default for lack of proper budget control according to IBGE, the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics. It is expected that millions of low-income earners will continue to increase their spending, all because of access to credit and cheap money. The middle and top socio-economic classes have become a lot more materialistic and label-conscious. Women are spending a lot more on things like fashion and beauty products. People are spending more on themselves since the birth rate has been falling in the last several years.
Some key differences between American and Brazilian consumers still exist, though. They are extremely important and should not be overlooked by those interested in entering the Brazilian market. For example, consumers in Brazil love face-to-face interaction rather than getting a written communication in the mail. They like to know the person with whom they will do business and engage in personal conversation first. Brazilians will also take time in enjoying the environment and reviewing details. They do not like to be rushed when shopping or dining, especially if they are having a meal at a restaurant. The list could be expanded if we were to include the differences in income levels, purchasing power and the country’s infrastructure and how it affects consumers’ behaviors and needs. Even within Brazil, there are a lot of differences between all socio-economic classes and the north and the south of the country.
RSK: Can you divulge anything about Sylver’s work with the Brazilian government or is that all top secret?
ABG: All the work we’ve done with the Center for Strategic Studies and Management in Science, Technology and Innovation (CGEE) is public, even though it was strategic in nature. CGEE is a government think tank agency and we’ve contributed to several of their foresight studies in many industries including: automotive, green energy, urban mobility, construction, medical equipment, furniture, electronics, cosmetics, plastics, textiles, aviation, defense and shipbuilding. In all of these studies, we identified local and global trends, investigated future opportunities and defined long-term strategic and technological roadmaps. We engaged nearly 1,000 people, from C-level to top management, and the main results provided guidelines for industrial investment and innovation policies in Brazil. It was intense and a lot of fun!
RSK: I tend to think of Brazil as one of the more expensive markets when it comes to research. How is Sylver able to make it more affordable for its clients?
ABG: If you can’t speak the Portuguese language, chances are that people in Brazil will take advantage of you and apply higher fees, whether you are talking about a resort, a restaurant or conducting market research. There is a perception in Brazil, and in many other countries, that American companies are rich(er) and simply because of that they can afford to pay a little more. So how does Sylver make Brazil and even other countries of Latin America more affordable? We use our local contacts, always negotiate better rates and look for ways to alleviate taxation and bank fees. As a Brazilian national, I am heavily involved with these negotiations, making sure our clients get the same prices as any other Brazilian company.
RSK: Where else in Latin America does Sylver conduct research?
ABG: Most recently, we have conducted research in Mexico, Colombia and Brazil. Being of Latino descent, I feel comfortable doing research in any country of Latin America. We can negotiate the best rates, find great talent and enter the country with all equipment and stimuli necessary to do the research. Also, the Brazilian passport enjoys no visa restrictions for most of the Latin American countries, which is very helpful in saving us time and avoiding extra expenses.
RSK: What kinds of things should clients keep in mind when they are joining you on a research trip to Latin America?
ABG: If there is one thing I want to convey, it’s that our clients always enjoy the trip, have a good time and get the information they are looking for. Prior to the trip, we provide all the necessary personal safety and security information. We provide guidance and tips for entering the country with prototypes, research equipment and materials. And we can be with them at all times during the research to avoid unpleasant surprises.
2012 gave Sylver the opportunity to help Mozilla chart new territory related to the development of their new mobile phone, taking us to Brazil and other locales in Latin America. Beyond the work being cool, (Come on, studying mobile behaviors in emerging markets? Can we say AWESOME!), it’s been a new, different, and wonderful experience working with a company who truly embodies the principles of “open source.”
Recently on their blog, Mozilla shared a huge chuck of the final exploratory report on the aspirations and motivations of the Brazilian C-Class. This knowledge has guided the mobile team at Mozilla in their development and marketing efforts and could likely be of the same use to you, if working in emerging markets, particularly if trying to position and sell products to emerging classes within those markets.
As we sit in our new — and rockin’ — workshop space, the entire team is amazed how quickly 2012 has passed. We started the year with some ambitious goals, in hopes of continuing to build the momentum we had created in 2011. We’re thrilled to report that we met all goals for 2012 and are still moving full steam ahead! Let’s look at what we’ve been up to this year:
Finding a new space. This summer, we moved into a brand new office space in Evanston, Illinois (one suburb north of metro Chicago). It’s ideal for the collaboration, co-creation and innovation that is the foundation of our work. Feel free to stop by sometime and we’d be happy to give you the tour!
Adding new faces. Our rock-solid team grew again this year. We’ve had the pleasure of working with some amazing people (interns, contractors and partners, alike). We also added design researcher, Matthew Yapchaian, to our full-time family. You can read more about Matthew and the rest of our team by clicking here.
Sending out more “postcards.” In 2011, we started a series called “Postcards from the Edge of Global Research.” Thanks to our work, we get to travel the globe. This year alone, we’ve conducted research in the U.S. (of course!), Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, China, Russia, South Korea and Australia. We’re sharing some of our international research tips and insights with “friends and family” of Sylver. If you’d like to get an occasional postcard from us — and, yes, we mean the real thing! — reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll put you on the list!
Sprucing up our “look.” We decided to turn the tables of design on ourselves this past year and look at how we could better communicate how Sylver has grown since it opened its doors in 2003. It seems we’ve been successful. Our revamped “services” page especially is receiving a lot of positive comments.
Connecting with the research and design community. In addition to being part of several industry events, founder, Brianna Sylver, has offered her talent and expertise to the students of her alma mater, Institute of Design, Illinois Institute of Technology, teaching a course on how to design sound research for product development.
Continuing the fun. As we come to this point and look around the table, we all just grin. Yes, we do have a lot of fun around here.
So, where do we go now? As you may know, we never stop thinking about ways we can continue to push the envelope in customer insights and innovation. So, our excitement for 2013 lies in the methods and techniques we plan to employ. Here’s a partial list:
Mobile research. Sylver is an industry leader in the use of mobile research. We’ve found it to be a wonderful way of getting in-context (and longitudinal) perspectives on situations and activities not suitable for ethnographies. We’re itching to “up the ante,” so to speak, and are on the hunt for projects and technologies that will help us do so.
“Big data” mining. Since 2011, we’ve been consulting with clients on how to get the most of the research data they currently have, often going back to the raw data from multiple projects to see what new insights can be gleaned. We’re in discussions about some new meta-analysis initiatives that have us very excited!
Customer co-creation. Our hybrid qualitative/co-creation sessions bring together and highlight two core strengths of Sylver — qualitative research and ideation. In years past, our efforts in co-creation have mainly been limited to B2B industries. In Q1 of 2013, we’re pushing into B2C industries. Yay!
Crowd-sourcing. Continuing to harness the power of customer thinking, we’ve been experimenting with “crowd-sourcing” techniques in some of our qualitative projects in the last six months. We like the additional insights we’re getting and look forward to continuing the practice in 2013.
Gamification. The technique is all the rage right now. And, generally speaking, we don’t think researchers use it appropriately much of the time. At Sylver, we’ve been exploring ways that this technique can improve client communication and engagement with research findings, as much as increase consumer engagement during data collection.
So, that’s our list for 2013. Let us know what you have on your list — we’re here to help you make that happen!