The two-day event, held over April 24-25 at Expo Guadalajara and only the second time it has been hosted in the city, united key suppliers and top label and package printing industry stakeholders for a combination of expert-led conference sessions with informative panel discussions, technical and practical presentations, and a tabletop exposition running for the duration of the event. This offered delegates excellent networking opportunities and the chance to learn about the very latest technology.
Hot conference topics were the growing trends of premiumization (focus on high quality labels and packaging), augmented reality and intelligent labels, which provide increased opportunities for brands to engage with consumers and offer added value, plus the emphasis on consumer experience. The huge growth potential of the Mexican market - the region's biggest - was also discussed in detail.
Tasha Ventimiglia, event director for Label Summit Latin America, said, "We are delighted with one of our most successful Label Summits for Latin America, which brought together the best of the region's label and packing printing industry for two inspiring days of learning and showcasing the latest technology from world-class suppliers. Attendee feedback from the 25 countries represented has been tremendous. Mexico has the region's largest label and package printing market, one that is set to grow by 18 percent over the next four years*, so it was fantastic to see such a strong representation from our host country along with the rest of the region.
Opening the summit on day one was a keynote presentation given by Avery Dennison's lead for sales and marketing in Latin America, Isabela Monteiro. Addressing trends in Mexico, the region and worldwide, market forecasts, and how consumers are willing to pay more for functional packaging, she said: "We are living in a more dynamic world with smaller families and single-family homes, so the consumption trend is more individualized, more practical, more functional."
Other day one highlights included a panel discussion on attracting skilled labor and retaining key employees, with Heriberto Sánchez from Acoban and Etifilms, Keren Becerra from Etiquetas Lobo Impresores and Label Pack, and Samuel Rodriguez de Landa from La Escuela Nacional de Artes leading the debate. Emotional well-being and talent development were acknowledged as key to industry success, as was meeting the needs of younger entrants to the market who want a more flexible working life. This is a challenge for converters, where production jobs see a turnover of 3%.
Another popular session was led by Ideeo on diversification and moving from commercial printing to packaging. CEO of the Mexico City-based company Juan Sebastián Estrada described how it had stopped being a printer a long time ago when they realized they had to sell concepts instead. He said, "The package is a means of communication. I'm not selling a label or a package. I'm selling an experience."
Day one ended with a panel discussion led by Ricardo Stone of Etiquetas e Impresiones de Mexico, Ángel Calderón of Impredimex, Gerardo Gonzalez of Etiprint and Jorge Martínez of Groupo Etimex. They agreed that since much of the Mexican market is price-focused, it is important to find a niche and excel at it. Digital printing was also flagged as a hot topic, as converters are increasingly adopting digital strategies.
Day two of the conference began with Jos Kabouw of Grafisk Maskinfabrik and Joaquim Correia of Arconvert leading a session on high-end label decoration. Mr Kabouw discussed augmented reality, foils and embossing as ways for brands to stand out on a shelf, while Mr Correia looked at premium material options. Echoing the session on day one, he said, "Today's consumer doesn't want status from products they purchase, they want an experience."
The summit ended with a lively panel discussion on branding, and in particular enhancement, personalization and private label versus premium brands. High-profile consumer brands were well represented on the panel, with Mónica Medina of Nestlé, Sergio Bojalil of The Hershey Company, Humberto Ojeda Lozano of Tequila Casa San Matías, alongside Manuel Antonio Melendrez of Norjal. The recurrent theme of consumer experience was discussed, while Mr Lozano explained how his company works closely with its label printer to choose the best papers and bright finishes for their tequila bottles. He said there are greater opportunities for brand marketers and designers to interact with their label suppliers, who in turn have a responsibility to educate their customers on the latest trends.
The accompanying table-top exposition featured 87 companies, with many leading suppliers represented, including Acpo, Armor, Avery Dennison, Bobst, Durst, Dupont, Epson - who also launched their SurePress for the Latin American market - Esko, FUJIFILM, Green Bay Mexico, Mark Andy, Sun Chemical and Tesa Tape.
Ventimiglia concluded, "This is our 15th consecutive Label Summit in Latin America. We began the summits to grow our circulation in key emerging markets, educate local label converters on our industry, and complement our larger Labelexpo portfolio. We never imagined that 15 years later our summits would become such vital, unmissable events for the entire Latin American label industry. We look forward to building on this at next year's summit in Colombia."