3 critical ways to improve the customer experience of your Brazilian clients
The linguistic choices you make as you woo a given customer base can make or break your
1. Make sure to use Brazilian Portuguese
This is the first thing when trying to win and retain loyalty from a Brazilian customer base. But as obvious as it may be, it’s still frequently ignored in favor of more global languages, such as English or Spanish, which has the effect of alienating most of the Brazilian customer base.
Do not alienate 95% of the Brazilian market
The easiest, fastest and most effective way to win over customers is to offer them an online experience in their native language. This works on a worldwide scale, but is particularly important for the Brazilian market. Only 5% to 7% of Brazilians speak English, while Spanish sits even lower at 4% of Brazilians, despite being the official language of most countries in South America.
Furthermore, most Brazilians who do speak English or Spanish are heavily concentrated in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, the two major financial and cultural hubs of Brazil. Therefore, offering Brazilians access to your customer service, websites and social media exclusively in one of those two languages, or even both, automatically alienates approximately 200 million customers - something easily avoided when you switch to Brazilian Portuguese.
Brazilians also tend to get offended when offered European Portuguese
European Portuguese is not a good compromise, either. The differences between the two variants are such that Portuguese speakers immediately know when something is not being offered in their own variant; not only do the differences go beyond pronunciation and vocabulary, but they reach into the grammatical structures themselves.
There’s no better example of this approach than the official Microsoft website, which has both European and Brazilian Portuguese options for its customers; if they offered support to Portuguese speakers exclusively in the European variant, Brazilian customers would end up not only confused, but unwilling to interact further with Microsoft products.
Avoid losing 9 out of 10 of potential customers
When Brazilian customers are presented with social media - which is frequently where customers learn about the products/services a company offers - in a foreign language, nine times out of ten they won’t even look at it twice, let alone interact with your content or remember your product/service in the future.
In order to avoid this, make sure you have Brazilian Portuguese on your social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn) and on your websites, so that your content can reach as wide an audience as possible. This will allow prospective clients to fully interact with your posts/ads and give you the engagement that is such an important tool in today’s marketing landscape.
2. Make it about me: A Brazilian person
Tailor the content to cultural references: go local
Building a customer base online goes beyond language choices: your content can’t be limited to being translated into Brazilian Portuguese; it also has to go through a process of cultural adaptation.
As Brazil tends to be culturally isolated from its Hispanic neighbors, as well as from every other Portuguese-speaking country, its references and social media culture revolve almost exclusively around Brazilian society, lifestyle, politics, news cycles and celebrities. This means that references to global events or celebrities (e.g. using images of American celebrities, or referencing Brexit) yield close to no interactions from Brazilians.
Consequently, social media and ads employing global cultural references are not only insufficient, but are actually counterproductive in Brazil; the ideal scenario is to have a separate social media account, in Brazilian Portuguese using local references, to be able to establish a dialogue with that audience (e.g. using images of Brazilian celebrities, or referencing local news with which Brazilians have been interacting online.)
Only 20% of Brazilians can buy in foreign currencies
Of the 200 million people in Brazil, only 39 million have online shopping habits, and out those, only 8% of them use PayPal, while other online payment methods (such as Stripe, Payoneer and Venmo) either do not exist or have a negligible presence in the country.
71% of Brazilians use their credit cards for online shopping, but only 20% of them have an international card that can process purchases in foreign currencies. The most common payment method for purchasing online in Brazil is the “boleto bancário,” a bank ticket payable at any ATM machine, bank, post office or lottery agency, or via internet banking.
These are only a few examples of how far cultural adaptation has to go when trying to build a customer base in a given country. Another fundamental aspect of it, when we talk about Brazil, is representation.
3. Say goodbye to cultural clichés
Common stereotypes can alienate some of the richest parts of the country
No one likes to see themselves - or their country - reduced to a few, trite stereotypes, which is the quickest way of not winning over a customer base, as well as even offending them and pushing them away.
Notably, Brazilian audiences can be rather sensitive about the way they are portrayed, due to the fact that Brazil is so geographically, racially and culturally diverse. Across all sorts of media, the usual images used to represent Brazil are the beaches and landmarks in Rio de Janeiro, carnival, soccer and samba.
However, these are all extremely regionalized features that leave out more than 90% of the country. As a consequence, a customer from the state of São Paulo, for instance, the state with the highest GDP in the country, may feel uninterested at best (and insulted at worst) at seeing something marketed towards them using symbols that do not represent them at all, and ignore whatever it is being advertised.
Embrace multi-cultural and multi-racial
While the north of the country has a heavy concentration of black people and descendants from native Brazilians, Portuguese and the Spanish, southern states feature a majority of people of German and Polish descent, and a remarkably low black population.
When addressing a Brazilian audience, it’s important to acknowledge and represent just how immensely diversified they are from each other. Striving for a multi-cultural and racial representation of Brazil is the wisest path to assure Brazilian customers that they will have a personalized customer experience, and to really clinch customer loyalty from one of the biggest markets in the world.
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