NEW RESEARCH PROVIDES VALUABLE INSIGHTS ON HOW CONSUMERS ACROSS LATIN AMERICA REASON AROUND THE CONCEPT OF PACKAGING AND SUSTAINABILITY
In brief – Results from a comprehensive survey among 6591 consumers in 13 Latin American countries show that the concern for the environment has increased by 77% over the past 12 months. Latin American consumers also claim that they prefer paper-based packaging material over plastics, and they are ready to pay more for a more sustainable solution. “We have received very positive response from the interactions that we have had after the results were published, says Fernanda Cavaletti Santos, Strategic Market Consultant at Klabin, based in São Paolo, Brazil.
The joint market research project conducted with Opticom helped Klabin to gain very valuable insights on how consumers all across Latin America reason around the concept of packaging and sustainability.
In 2019, Opticom conducted a global sustainability survey for the Swedish timber, pulp & paper manufacturer SCA, focusing on consumer attitudes towards the environment vs. the forest industry in Europe, China and North America. The report was widely published in various media and presented live on several occasions.
This initiative created interest at Klabin and the idea of doing a similar version in Latin America quickly gained support, Fernanda says and explains that one part of her job is to monitor and understand the markets in which Klabin is active. So she entered the project when the company board was setting up the cooperation between Klabin and Opticom, under the leadership of the company’s COO, Mr. Flavio Deganutti. In this project creating process, a lot of effort was put into understanding how the original survey was made and how a similar study could be implemented on a number of Latin American markets.
The thorough preparations resulted in a very well-constructed study, according to Fernanda, emphasizing that it was a very good learning process, based on knowledge-sharing which in the end allowed Klabin to obtain important and very usable information from end customers on their main markets.
Another important success factor in this project design that Fernanda wants to bring forward is the full focus on having an end-market and end-consumer approach, which really made it possible for Klabin to see what actual end-customers notice about their company and of the paper industry in general: “I think the main point was to see how we are perceived here in Latin America, so the data on these consumers is very valuable for us.”
She explains that they also looked into what had been done in other parts of the world and comparing that with the market situation in Latin America gave them insights on their sustainability communication challenges and made them focus on what they really needed to understand about their main markets: “So we were more directed towards what was really important, because here in Latin America the situation is so different from the North American and European consumers and we simply did not have this deeper market understanding.”
Klabin did choose Opticom for this project based on their track record, the market knowledge and previous presentations and reports on the subject of sustainability in projects conducted for SCA, a Swedish forest company which also warmly recommended Opticom - That convinced us at Klabin that Opticom is the right partner for us in this endeavor, Fernanda explains.
Listing what in this project that has been most valuable for Klabin, she points at the survey results confirming that the forest industry is negatively impacted by the myths of deforestation: “That was no news to us, but it was good to see it shown with data and numbers that very few consumers are aware of the measures of the Brazilian pulp and paper industry, taking responsibility for the preservation of natural assets of the Brazilian forest, for example.” “It is also a growing differential for any company active in the pulp & paper industry with the cost advantages of production in Brazil taken into consideration”, says Fernanda.
The second important, and indeed very encouraging take-away from this survey, according to Fernanda, is that Latin American consumers are indeed moving away from plastic as preferred packaging material and is turning towards paper-based solutions and they are actually ready to pay more for a more sustainable solution. “That was the nicest answer we saw!” she exclaims.
When asked about what business decisions Klabin has been able to make based on the survey results, she stresses how much easier it now is for the company to have a more assertive focus on sustainability communication efforts and initiatives, as they are based on these freshly collected data.
Klabin has also shared insights from this survey with Empapel, the Brazilian Association of Paper Packaging, presently with 38 paper producing member companies. The organization promotes the environmental benefits of paper based packaging solutions and works towards expanding markets and creating business opportunities for all its associate companies. When Klabin representatives presented the study to the Empapel associates, they simply went “Wow!” over the initiative as such and over all the interesting results. The project feedback from Klabin customers has also been very positive and backed up by these results, the company has been able to have a much more direct approach in their customer communication concerning sustainability.
The project has also had a more hands-on effect, Fernanda reveals, describing an ongoing joint development project with a big Brazilian food brand owner: “Through the results of the Opticom study we were able to get them to develop a project with us aiming at sustainable packaging for their food market. The argument that consumers are prepared to pay more for sustainable packaging was very useful in getting the brand owner onboard, they were so happy to hear that, and it worked, so the project is evolving!”
The results have also been spread within the Klabin organization, Fernanda continues, and she has personally presented the results to their board of directors, who were very intrigued and wanted to spread it further on to their clients. The results have also been shared with the Klabin communication team, who are responsible for the development of an integrated and larger external sustainability communication effort towards the market.
Fernanda is very happy with the Opticom experience, praising the CEO Mikael Selling and Project Manager David Weller for their professionality, vast market research knowledge and teaching skills and being so available and forthcoming during the whole project: “For me personally, every meeting with you at Opticom, during the questionnaire creation phase as well as the results and analysis presentations, was like a classroom, I learned a lot!”
Even though it’s too early talk about any direct ROI in terms of financial gains due to the project, there has definitely been other positive consequences: “We have received very positive response from the interactions that we have had after the results were published. I think the information helped us to, again, direct our internal efforts and resources in this matter in the most optimized way. It opened our path to go, so that has been very nice!” Fernanda concludes.