CW: What are some of the main trends you see in the Latin America paint and coatings market today?
CEN: “One main trend is that people are moving from the low economic class into the middle class, and into cities, which corresponds with greater consumption of paint. In Latin America today, there is a per capita paint consumption of only 3.8 liters, while in North America it is 8.0 liters, so there is a lot of room
“Another trend is toward providing Do It Yourself customers with better paint technology. About 80 percent of paint is purchased by contractors so far, but there is a strong movement toward DIY, especially in Brazil and Mexico. It’s part of the trend toward more consumer decision in the painting process. So Dow is offering paint with new technology characteristics — like one-coat paint, to help paint dry more quickly for the DIY painter. These products also are gaining popularity among contractors, since there is less labor involved.”
CW: What quality segments of paint and coatings are growing fastest in the region today?
CEN: “The middle-quality and high-quality segments are growing the most. Last year the market didn’t grow as expected because of several political situations; the market usually grows slowly during presidential election years because of uncertainty. However, we did grow in the medium- and high-performance segments perhaps in part because consumers are more aware of our technology.
CW: What is the role of the big box chain stores in paint consumption today?
CEN: “In the past, it was difficult to go to a paint store and find higher technology content in paints. Now, more and more business is going through the chains. It is not unusual to see one new store per month in Mexico and Brazil, and Central America and the Caribbean are experiencing this as well. Still, 80 percent of all paint sales are at small stores or within small networks.”
CW: How is your relationship changing with the small paint stores?
CEN: “Within our supply chain, some retailers are asking for performance additives that make painting easier and cheaper. So medium- and high-quality products are gaining shelf space among the small retailers, while lower quality paints are losing space. The general trend is that paints are getting more sophisticated, but small retailers need to control cost.
CW: How is your local production offering a competitive edge against paint companies that primarily import their products?
CEN: “We manufacture in both Brazil and Mexico, and supply the region mostly from those plants. About 70 percent of our regional sales come from ingredients produced at these two sites. This is the main competitive advantage. We also contribute important value for customers with our technicians in the field and with our own local labs. We are building a new R&D center in Brazil now that will be open by April.
CW: Thank you.