Brands must master the art of 'essentialism' in vibrant LATAM market – packaging expert

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images / Ekaterina79
© Getty Images / Ekaterina79
Packaging must draw consumers in and make sense within three seconds, and whilst it's tempting to make numerous claims brands must stick to the essentials, says Mintel's global packaging director.

Over the past five years, packaging has become an increasingly important launch driver for dietary supplements and vitamins in Latin America. Between January 2014 to December 2018, there has been a 10% increase in launches using new packaging as a primary launch driver, according to Mintel's Global New Products Database. This is the highest percentage increase across any of the five launch drivers Mintel tracks – new product, new variety, new package, relaunch, and new formulation.

David Luttenberger, global packaging director at Mintel, said this clearly showed the importance packaging held in Latin America's dietary supplement and vitamin space.

“This means that both retailers and brands are recognizing the value on packaging, on-pack messaging, and how packaging plays a key role in motivating or driving a purchase decision,” ​Luttenberger told NutraIngredients-LATAM.

“...Most people still look at the Latin American market as developed but emerging, and I think in that context the LATAM market is very open to innovations and exciting things.”

Consumer essentials

But Luttenberger said, like with any global market, there were some key rules around packaging. It was critical, for example, to not overload consumers with information and provide only what they were looking for – a design principle coined 'essentialism'.

“Essentialism sits between minimalism and chaotic clean label. Oftentimes a minimalist approach doesn't give enough information to make that informed purchasing decision whereas the chaotic clean label gives too much. Essentialism is that sweet spot right in the middle where the brand understands what's important to the consumer and gives that to the consumer.”

Companies had to work out why consumers were buying a specific product – was it for energy, vitality, clear skin, better vision? Once this was established, it was this information that should gain prominence front-of-pack, he said. “Consumers don't have time to read over 15 claims.”

Luttenberger said the pack also had to make sense within two to three seconds – the time it took for a typical purchase decision.

“We see so many brands stuck in the mindset of 'I have to be disruptive and put something on the shelf that's so different consumers can't help but notice it'. Well, oftentimes when you do that, if you don't explain to the consumer very simply and quickly why it's different, and most importantly what this difference means to them, then it truly becomes a disruption – it disrupts them and their motivation to purchase.”

“...Consumers today love innovation and convenience but they also don't have the time to try and figure it out for themselves, they rely on the brand for that​.”

Making a splash...

David Luttenberger Headshot - BW
David Luttenberger, global packaging director at Mintel

In Latin America, brands were also up against the wash of bold and bright colors drenching retail, Luttenberger said.

“When I go to Mexico City, Bogotá or São Paulo and go into the stores, particularly the convenience stores, it's like the color festival in India. I'm always impressed by the bright colors and, honestly, I think that's just reflective of the Latino mentality – it's life, it's fun, it should be colorful.”

For manufacturers, however, he said that meant getting noticed wasn't always easy. Some brands in the market had opted for matte finishes or elegant designs, for example, which had proved successful, he said.

Blues and greens were always “good colors” ​in Latin America because of what they were associated with ​blue with cleanliness, health, hygiene, prevention and functionality; green with freshness and environmental responsibility, although the latter was often overused.

For dietary supplements in particular, Luttenberger said use of prismatics and foil instead of color was effective, providing it was done mindfully like any color choice.

“My rule for the mindful use of color, generally, is to splash not flood. ...What I tell my clients is to use color mindfully as an accent mark or punctuation mark to draw consumer attention to those one or two points you want to make.”

Bang for your buck

Value could also not be forgotten when working in Latin America, Luttenberger said. “In the Latin American market there's a lot of focus on value and getting the most for your money and so therefore products that can very clearly tell consumers 'here's the value of this product, here's the value proposition' will do well.”

Clear packaging or a window cut out showing the product inside could really help, he said, as it gave consumers a chance to visually inspect the product and judge for themselves whether it was good value for money or not.

“In many cases, these nutritional products will be in addition to their staple purchases, so they want to maximize their purchasing dollars. Any opportunity you have to show maximum value for the dollar, I think, is a good thing.”

Luttenberger presented a keynote speech on packaging innovation at a conference held in Cali, Colombia last month, hosted by the Cali Chamber of Commerce [Camara de Comercio de Cali].

Related topics: Processing & Packaging, Functional Dairy