How insights empower food brands in Latin America

8 August 2023

Gustavo Alvarez discusses the role market research plays in the food and nutrition industry across Latin America, how insight innovations are impacting the industry and how brands effectively connect with consumers.

7 min read
7 min read
How Insights Empower Food Brands in Latin America

The Insight250 spotlights and celebrates 250 of the world’s premier leaders and innovators in market research, consumer insights, and data-driven marketing. The inaugural list was revealed in April 2021, and the 2022 winners were announced in Toronto last September at ESOMAR’s Annual Congress. The awards have created renewed excitement across the industry whilst strengthening the connectivity of the market research community. The 2023 Winners were announced last month - see

With so many exceptional professionals named to the Insight250, it seems fitting to tap into their expertise and unique perspectives across various topics. This weekly series does just that; inquiring about the expert perspectives of many of these individuals in a series of short topical features.

This edition features Gustavo Alvarez, Senior Vice President for Latin America with Behaviorally. Gustavo discusses the role market research plays in the food and nutrition industry across Latin America, how insight innovations are impacting the industry and how brands effectively connect with consumers.

Gustavo explains how conducting in-depth research helps companies gain a comprehensive understanding of regulations, consumer expectations, and potential areas for improvement. Assembling this type of research is critical today. With mTab Marketplace serving as an insight hub, it has never been more accessible with datasets, reports, and studies from leading sources like JP Morgan, PWC, BCG, Barnes, Behaviorally, and a spectrum of other providers all in one place, to deliver a world of insights and research with across a spectrum of industries.

Crispin: Gustavo, how can insights and market research aid brands and companies in Latin America in understanding consumer preferences and behaviours related to nutrition information on packs?

Insights and market research play a vital role in helping brands and companies in Latin America understand consumer preferences and behaviours and, in particular – as it relates to nutrition information on packs. Through research and understanding, they can gather valuable information on what consumers look for in packaging, their nutritional concerns, and their reactions to different labelling formats, especially when it comes to how claims are portrayed on pack.”

Gustavo Alvarez

What specific challenges do brands face in Latin America when it comes to nutrition information on packs, and how can market research help overcome these challenges?

In Latin America, brands face unique challenges due to varying regulations and cultural factors. Each country may have different rules regarding the placement, content, and format of nutrition information. Market research helps brands navigate this complex landscape by providing a deep understanding of each market’s regulations, enabling them to tailor packaging and nutritional labelling to comply with local laws and meet consumer expectations. Packaging for cereal alone in Chile, Mexico and Argentina is vastly different from what you would see in the US or Europe."

How can market research aid brands in creating packaging that communicates effectively with the diverse and multicultural population in Latin America?

Market research can provide insights into the diverse cultural and linguistic aspects of Latin America. Understanding the preferences and sensitivities of different population segments helps brands design packaging that resonates with the target audience. By conducting research on colour schemes, imagery, and language, brands can ensure their packaging communicates effectively and fosters a connection with consumers.”

In what ways can market research uncover emerging trends in nutrition and packaging preferences in Latin America?

Market research helps brands stay ahead of emerging trends in nutrition and packaging preferences by monitoring consumer behaviour, tracking social media conversations, and conducting trend analysis. By studying changing dietary patterns, health consciousness, and sustainability concerns, companies can adapt their packaging to reflect these trends and maintain a competitive edge in the market.”

Considering the differences in cereal packaging regulations in Mexico, how can market research assist brands in enhancing their packaging strategies for the Mexican market? 

Market research can provide invaluable guidance for brands operating in Mexico, where strict regulations impact cereal packaging. By conducting in-depth research, companies can gain a comprehensive understanding of these regulations, consumer expectations, and potential areas for improvement. Brands can then tailor their packaging to comply with Mexican laws while still effectively conveying nutritional information and attracting consumers. This is also true for what we saw happen when regulations changed in Chile and Argentina. 

“While yes, the regulations greatly affected cereal because they oftentimes use cartoons and characters to target children, there was an immediate effect on products that were considered healthy and nutritious. For example, yogurt or products labeled with the “light” claim were forced to include nutritional warning labels. This caused a ripple effect of brands needing to reformulate and create new varieties that complied with the regulations. Having a trusted insights partner is essential for brands to understand and adapt to such regulatory changes, helping them successfully navigate the hurdles and remain compliant in the dynamic Latin American market.” 

What potential future developments should brands and companies in Latin America anticipate regarding nutrition information on packs?

In the future, we can expect advancements in technology and increased consumer demand for transparency and sustainability. Brands should anticipate the adoption of QR codes or smart labels on packaging to provide in-depth nutrition information to tech-savvy consumers. Additionally, eco-friendly and recyclable packaging options will become more crucial as environmental concerns continue to rise. Sustainability is truly top of mind for consumers – and brands – alike in this region.”

How can brands leverage market research to foster trust and loyalty among consumers in Latin America, especially concerning nutrition information?

Market research allows brands to understand consumer expectations and concerns, enabling them to provide accurate and transparent nutrition information. By openly addressing consumer questions and incorporating their feedback, brands can build trust and credibility. 

“Demonstrating a commitment to the well-being of consumers and delivering on promises enhances brand loyalty and long-term success in Latin America."

What role will innovation and collaboration play in shaping the future of nutrition information on packs in Latin America?

Innovation and collaboration will play a pivotal role in shaping the future of nutrition information on packs in Latin America. Brands can and should partner with insights suppliers and nutritionists to develop more effective and consumer-friendly pack design to ensure that they adhere to the new laws put in place by regulatory bodies.

"Additionally, leveraging technological advancements to provide real-time information, interactive packaging experiences, and especially sustainable packaging will become crucial for engaging consumers and driving informed purchasing decisions. This is why the proper usage of AI would be greatly beneficial for brands moving forward."

Crispin: Gustavo, thank you again for sharing your valuable insights on how market research can assist brands in Latin America, particularly in relation to nutrition information on packaging. Your advice and expertise will undoubtedly prove beneficial for brands looking to succeed in this diverse and dynamic market.

Top tip

When you’re conducting insights in Latin America, prioritise understanding the cultural nuances. Get a partner with strong regional knowledge that will bring best-in-class global solutions and will tailor them to reflect the Latin American reality!

gustavo alvarez Gustavo Alvarez is the Senior Vice President for Latin America with Behaviorally. He is a multilingual seasoned professional, specialising in Latin American markets with a comprehensive regional perspective and thorough understanding of local nuances. He also has extensive experience in marketing, analytics, retail measurement, and Shopper Insights.
Crispin Beale
Senior Strategic Advisor at mTab, CEO at Insight250, Group President at Behaviorally