A unique case
The late impact of the pandemic in the Latin American subcontinent had two main consequences.
The most important one was that a year which began with the challenges of a global slowdown of the world economy – 2020 –, soon after that forced a halt in the practice of the insight’s activity in almost all countries as the pandemic reached their shores (before experiencing a modest reactivation in the last quarter in some countries).
The second was that in many countries, the social and economic shock awoke dormant feelings of unrest in the population throughout the region.
The severe, prolonged, and multi-layered impact of the pandemic and the disadvantage of a traditionally static industry, slow to change overnight to alternative research methods, resulted in an overall drop of the region’s turnover in 2020 of almost 22% after taking inflation into account.
While the region is expected to have recovered part of the lost ground during 2021 – it forecasts a 10.6% growth in real terms –the fact that it will not be enough to return to pre-pandemic levels of output shows that the impact will be long-lasting.
Local and sectorial differences
While no market reported positive net growth, only the largest country in the region managed to avoid a drop of more than 10% during 2020: Brazil. This result was largely due to digital research, and the large size of the country attracted projects centrally that otherwise may have been commissioned elsewhere. Even with an unequal deployment of the internet, other improvements in telecommunications such as 5G showed how the Brazilian market continued to evolve despite the shrinkage in insights revenue.
The forecasted growth level for 2021 shows positive growth for most of the countries in the region, though few expect to return to levels of output seen in 2019: the only exceptions being the Dominican Republic and Panama.
Given limitations in the source of ESOMAR’s global data, the regional assessment for Latin America includes Canada, a US-centric division of the continent also known as “Rest of Americas”.