People Talking to Each Other


Jana, understanding our mCent users is crucial for our success. Without them, our mission would be meaningless. Brazil is an especially important market for us. More than 25% of its 200-million population are using Android smartphones and the need for affordable mobile data is vital. This is because 1 GB of mobile data costs the equivalent of over half a week of work (26 hours) and 57% of users in Brazil don’t have a data plan.

In order to provide a best-in-class experience for our mCent users around the globe, we pride ourselves in constantly interviewing current users and potential users, wherever there are. To do this, we send surveys via SMS, utilize video conferencing tools, and travel in-market to interview people in our target audience who may or may not be using mCent in order to get a better understanding of their needs and pain points.


Along the way, we’ve developed some best practices for conducting in-market user interviews that have helped us, and can help any app developer better understand their target users.

Recently, one of our product managers, Yvan Castilloux, traveled to Brazil to just do that, along with Nicola Azevedo, director of business development. The pair took to the streets of São Paulo in hopes of better understanding how Brazilians use their smartphones and mobile data.

Best practices for holding in-market user interviews

  • Ask the right questions, even with non-users. In many cases, our in-market interviews include speaking with people who are not currently using our app. We can learn a great deal from them, but we have to know what questions to ask. On this trip, we wanted to understand Brazilian smartphone users’ mobile habits, including how they use mobile data and whether they make purchases using their phone. So we focused our interview questions on those points. If you ask the right questions, you can learn just as much from non-users in-market as you can from active users of your app.

  • Understand where your target audience lives. The first problem we encountered on our trip was finding 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 the most convenient, since many people there were “killing time” and subsequently open to talk to us. In fact, only 8% of the people we asked to interview refused our invitation to spend only 15 minutes with us. If you want to reach the right demographic, you need to understand where they are and how they’re spending their time.

  • Speak their language, literally. Many tech-savvy Brazilians may understand English, but may not feel comfortable speaking it, especially if the conversation is complex. In order to get meaningful feedback from the conversation, it was vital that we spoke their language. Nicola Azevedo, a native Portuguese speaker from Brazil, led the conversations. We quickly realized that the people we spoke to appreciated speaking to someone who not only spoke their language, but also understood their culture.

Interviewing your target audience in a foreign country is not simple, but it is a valuable and worthwhile experience. Using these best practices will help you understand your users and future users around the world.

Interested in expanding your mobile app to Brazil, India, and beyond? In Jana’s mCent app, users try client apps—without incurring data charges.