Challenges in Questionnaires for Measuring Socioeconomic Levels in Latin America

January 24, 2023 Author:

Non-profit associations in Latin America produce valuable data that promotes and regulates good practices in opinion and market research. As part of their activities, they create questionnaires that help determine the socioeconomic levels of the population, which companies use to develop research studies tailored to specific profiles. Below is a list of some of the organizations responsible for these classifications, arranged by country:

  • Argentina - Argentine Society of Marketing and Opinion Researchers (SAIMO) and the Chamber of Social and Market Research Companies (CEIM)
  • Brazil - Brazilian Association of Research Companies (ABEP)
  • Chile - Chilean Association of Market and Public Opinion Researchers (AIM)
  • Colombia - Colombian Association of Market and Public Opinion Research Companies (ACEI)
  • Guatemala - Prodatos (Market Research and Analysis Central America and Panama)
  • Mexico - Mexican Association of Market and Opinion Intelligence Agencies (AMAI)
  • Peru - Peruvian Association of Market Intelligence Companies (APEIM)
  • Uruguay - Chamber of Social and Market Research Companies of Uruguay (CEISMU)

Undoubtedly, the work of these organizations generates a practical vision of the socioeconomic diversity of each country, although their methodology continues to present some challenges, as listed below:

Complexity of the measurement questionnaires

Each country has different methodologies, as well as different scopes. Some questionnaires, such as those in Mexico, attempt to measure socioeconomic level by well-being. Still, in other countries, it is determined by the postal code and the collection of domiciled public services. While these disparities do not allow us to compare Latin American countries exactly, they approximate the population's reality.

Questionnaires do not measure income level

Different from the United States, Latin America never asks directly about income levels. As fraud and organized crime continue to grow, inquiries about income levels have become sensitive for Latin Americans, often generating fear and insecurity when shared openly. Thus, the questions do not directly address an individual's income but rather the number of goods and services they have. To determine the socioeconomic levels of our panelists, ThinkNow uses country-specific measurement questionnaires.

Updating the panel database

AMAI's 2020 study on socioeconomic levels suggests that the frequency of updating socioeconomic levels varies by country. Argentina, Colombia, and Brazil update their data annually, and Mexico and Chile update every two years, whereas Uruguay, Peru and Guatemala update every three years. It can be highly challenging for a panel company to maintain an updated database of millions of registered users since the socioeconomic level of panelists varies. To obtain current data, ThinkNow recommends posting socioeconomic-level questions before starting each survey.

Low socioeconomic levels

The majority of the Latin American population comes from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. Market researchers and online panel companies face a considerable challenge in finding consumers who are connected to the Internet and have time to respond to customer surveys. The most common solution involves combining online and face-to-face sampling methodologies.

In conclusion

Ideally, when conducting a consumer study in Latin America, the questionnaire that measures the socioeconomic level of the country should be included in the data collection. We recommend, however, reviewing the methodology employed by each country to determine if the points covered in the questionnaire are relevant to your market research.

ThinkNow offers expert survey programming, including questionnaires for the LATAM region. Contact us today for a quote.