Published - 2022/02/16
An audience with Fernanda Cavaletti Santos Market & Strategy Coordinator at Klabin, Brazil
“We had seen some very interesting results from a consumer survey Opticom conducted for SCA in Europe, the U.S. and Asia and we were keen to do the same in Latin America. We wanted to examine consumer perceptions of the paper and board industry and of our brand in the market.
We knew Opticom was a specialist in the industry but also that they trained their interviewers themselves and that all interviews would be conducted in native languages. Not everyone speaks fluent English in developing economies, especially, so this was very important to us as we were seeking feedback from Portuguese-speaking Brazilians, our domestic market, and other Latin American countries, in Spanish. A lot can be lost in translation and meaningful feedback missed if respondents cannot express themselves in their native tongue.”
Did you learn much?
“A great deal, both about consumer attitudes to the industry as a whole versus plastics, for example, but also about how we were perceived in the market.”
Did the results surprise you?
“Some, very much so. We did not expect younger generations to perceive plastic as more environmentally-friendly than paper, for example. It was clear the plastics industry had done a better job of marketing their sustainability credentials and that we needed to do more, both as an industry and as a company.
“Part of the survey involved logo recognition and association with sustainability. We were disappointed to see we were not easily associated with sustainability, and not even recognised much outside our domestic market, Brazil. It was a wake-up call.”
Did the survey lead to action?
“Yes. Sustainability was always an integral priority for us, but we saw that our communication of our sustainability credentials needed improving. The gap between perception and reality was clear from the survey and we took action to step up our corporate messaging and expand the sustainability communications team. We also changed our approach and began using social media channels such as LinkedIn and Instagram a lot more. Opticom really helped us see we needed to connect with consumers in a different way and with a different message to show that, far from exploiting the forest, we are growing it. Our marketing consultant still uses the survey’s results regularly as guidance when considering product communication.”
Would you do it again?
“Definitely. This will be an exercise we need to repeat as soon as the dust has fully settled after the fallout of the pandemic. We are now seeing initiatives such as a coalition by the Brazilian forest industry to join forces in sustainability communication while we as a company are promoting new products such as paper cups. But we are up against other non-sustainable materials promoting best advantages and practices. It’s a tough road.
We have a lot to do to address the emotive issue of trees being harvested, even though they are replanted and part of a natural lifecycle. Help from industry communication specialists such as Opticom will only become more important in the future to help us win the hearts and minds of consumers.”