Embracing packaging innovation in Latin America

March 24, 2017
5 min read

Consumidores en el centro de la la innovación en empaquesno. 

Having recently returned from my third trip to Latin America in the past year, in addition to conferring with CPG and packaging converter clients and visiting various retail outlets, I spent two days alongside packaging professionals at Cumbre Latinoamericana de Innovacion en Envases Plasticos – the Latin American Summit of Innovation in Plastic Containers, presented by Carvajal B2B Media.

Among the world-class thought leaders representing CPGs, converters, package designers, and consultants hailing from nearly a dozen countries around the world, the message was consistent: the consumer is at the center of packaging innovation in Latin America. Moreover, those same manufactures and service providers have recognized and embraced the mission to satisfy the demands of consumers in this increasingly competitive region of the world.

According Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD), Latin America leads the world in the percentage of new product introductions using ‘new packaging’ as a launch driver. Between January 2011 and December 2016, across food, drink, beauty/personal care, and household products, Latin America recorded higher percentages of new product introductions using ‘new packaging’ as a launch driver than any other region of the world.

What this means is that retailers, brand owners and package converters are not only recognizing the role package innovation plays in attracting shoppers’ attention at the point of sale, but tapping into functional, solutions-based packaging innovation to meet consumers’ needs during myriad use occasions. This is the result of a much greater use and understanding of consumer insights, and not simply innovating for innovation’s sake, but delivering package innovations that consumers see as different and understand what the difference means to making their lives better, easier, safer or more enjoyable.

Global perspectives on package innovation in Latin America

Carolina Alzate, founder and chief director of ImasD, a progressive package design and retail experience firm, explained that the philosophy of the company has to change so that there is production of ideas. Alzate called this “business design thinking.” For innovation to happen, she went on, a company must think differently – get out of its comfort zone, and then actually embrace and act on those differences.

Carlos Bragagnini, R&D director at Amcor Latin America, explained that their innovation process begins with identifying the needs of the consumer; listening to and understanding those needs; and then innovating against those needs. Through that process Amcor has developed pouches with a 40% reduced carbon footprint while reducing the amount of aluminum by 30%. In consumer parlance, that means a more eco-responsible package and that helps extend shelf life, which in turn means less food waste and fewer spending dollars wasted. On the rigid side of the packaging equation, Amcor’s VisualCan decoration innovation enables multi-sensory engagement through both visual and tactile cues.

Andy Hobsbawn, the UK-based co-founder of Evrythng and leader in IoT (Internet of Things) for smart products, said packaging has become a tool for digital services that can be used to obtain consumer data on purchasing and use habits and aid in such activities as auto-reordering of staple products: “This is a new era in which consumer expectations are often connected to the internet; brands willing to take a leadership position can create unique and valuable experience through connected packaging innovations.”

What we think

Without a doubt, package innovation is not just alive in Latin America, but flourishing on many fronts. Here are some tips to keep innovation top of mind in packaging:

  • Connect and engage: Understand what consumers are seeking from packaging, and make packaging more than just a container to safely distribute and from which to dispense products – make packaging innovations a part of the consumer lifestyle.
  • Awaken emotions: Engage consumers by creating emotional connections through multi-sensory and multi-purpose experiences with packaging.
  • Agility and change: be willing to try something new in packaging. Look at new innovation processes which afford the opportunities to be quickly proactive around trends, and even fads, to meet consumer needs in the moment.
  • Specialization: While most consumers in Latin America enjoy a personalized or customized approach on occasion, there is the potential to plant in consumers’ minds a seed of doubt about the validity of a product or brand that continually engages in these types of packaging and/or marketing strategies. Utilize personalization and customization in packaging as something unique and special vs. a continuing strategy.
  • Join forces: Brands, package converters and service providers are joining together to collaborate and work as partners to better understand the needs of consumers; then ideate and innovate in a way that creates speed to market and packaging with a greater purpose.
  • Move outside the box: Quite simply, think differently when it comes to packaging innovation. Be bold, daring and willing to be a bit uncomfortable in order to exploit the concepts of business design thinking.
  • Sustainability: Maintain in a greater, more holistic sense. Be clear to consumers what has been done and what the benefit is for them. Cost still trumps eco-responsibility if there’s not a direct return on investment.
  • Born digital: In short, integrate smart, active and intelligent technologies into the product use occasion and into packaging from the concept stage rather than as a bolt-on component. Ensure the innovation and application have contextual relevancy to what consumers are asking for with digital content tied to packaging applications.

David is the Global Packaging Director at Mintel. With nearly 25 years of diverse packaging experience across multiple end-use categories and all packaging formats, he has worked with retailers, CPGs, packaging converters, and design and marketing agencies to help them better understand the business and innovations of packaging. At Mintel he is responsible for custom packaging projects for clients, direct interaction with US and global clients, sales support and new business development, and providing packaging insights to media.

David Luttenberger
David Luttenberger

David is the Global Packaging Director for Mintel. David is responsible for client-facing global coverage of packaging across Mintel Food & Drink, Beauty & Personal Care, Household & Personal Care, and GNPD.

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