IPL Perspectives: Michael & Mark Preview

IPL Perspectives | Michael De Carvalho & Mark Castro

IPL Perspectives:

Michael De Carvalho & Mark Castro

In this month’s feature of IPL Perspectives we sat down (behind a desk over Zoom) with Michael De Carvalho and Mark Castro.

Michael is a Senior Business Development Director at IPL Packaging. Mark is IPL’s Head of NPD for the US.

To understand Michael and Mark’s perspectives relating to their specific roles within the company, we asked them the question:

How is the continued drive towards sustainability altering the approach to luxury packaging, and how are you seeing this play out in your work environment?

Read through their responses below.


In my view, the transition towards sustainability in the luxury space is often slower than in other sectors as high-end brand owners are used to working with the likes of painted and veneered wooden boxes, gold plaques or embellishments and EVA foam fitments, for example. Metallized plastic, metallized glass and many other types of materials; which, while connoting quality and expense, are difficult to recycle.

These materials, historically associated with luxury packaging, do not easily decompose and therefore do not easily fit into the global eco-friendly drive. Whilst some aspects of sustainability (longevity and secondary use) can still be achieved with these traditionally high-end materials, they are not as evident or easily understood and appreciated by consumers as being sustainable.

For many luxury brands, I do not envisage them necessarily making immediate and dramatic shifts in their materials of choice. However, in addition to secondary usage many brands will look to improve their eco-friendly credentials in a way that encompasses the entire packaging value and supply chain process.

At IPL we’re often tasked with projects where a client wishes us to review their existing packaging programmes and processes and, what we often discover, is that many are simply full of redundancies.

This typically entails extra materials and layers of waste or the use of items that are not properly engineered. This can also result in the packaging being far larger and bulkier than what it needs be.

Every element of packaging should be designed to reduce its carbon footprint. So, while some brands may be resistant to material changes, there are many other options open to still improve sustainability goals, for example through material efficiencies, responsible sourcing, secondary uses and carbon friendly processes.

The good news is that we’re continually discovering and employing new technologies and efficiencies that will still allow for that premium feel, but with fully recyclable and plastic-free properties.

Molded pulp is one example, as are many other plant based alternatives to materials. Over time, there is no doubt that luxury brands, even if resistant now, will start to move towards more eco-friendly substrates too.

With the right approach, materials, and design and packaging partner it’s possible to create luxury packaging solutions that meet consumer desires, are environmentally responsible and make supply chains and shipping more economical – but it will take increased collaboration and compromise throughout the entire supply chain, and more importantly, real commitment on a systemic level from major brands.

MICHAEL DE CARVALHO | Senior Business Development Director

The growing surge in consumer demand for sustainable goods has placed increasing challenges on luxury brands and businesses to offer sustainable, eco-friendly product and packaging solutions.

There is a hesitation about committing to materials and processes that are perceived to potentially reduce the value of a luxury item.

Marketing to an industry centered around image, especially when it comes to luxury products and brands, requires careful handling. Further, while great progress is being made, for certain types of sustainable solutions, there may be cost implications for the brand.

Manufacturers need to provide luxury packaging companies with packaging that looks to reflect the high-quality values of the product, yet also has environmental credentials.

We are actively and continually presenting our clients with better and better sustainable packaging options.

Through material choices, production process and logistics, carbon footprints can be lowered and packaging finishes can still retain that luxury feel. So, in many ways, this is no longer a case of having to find suitable solutions but rather now a case of how the brand custodians/marketers wish to approach their brands position in the marketplace.

In truth, luxury brands may actually be in a stronger position than they think when it comes to addressing sustainability. Many of the features already relating to a luxury product’s packaging, such as longevity (or secondary use), are in alignment with eco-friendly goals. The real key is to balance responsible business practices, client needs and goals.



Each month we ask our “Perspectives” features a few questions to provide you with a little more context and insight into their job roles as well as themselves.


I wear a number of hats but, ultimately, I see my role and responsibility as one of achieving the company’s goals.

  • Ensuring we answer every client brief, be it existing packaging or an RFD (working hand-in-hand with the design department) to take a brand to the next level.
  • Overseeing research into new processes, materials and innovations and showcasing these to existing or potential clients.
  • Directing the varied processes of production through to final delivery, including but not limited to all QA processes.
  • From a systems perspective I also ensure all standard operating procedures are adhered to by PM teams.

And that’s in a nutshell 😉

That greatly depends on the day! I generally check emails to check on new briefs or client feedback or review QA reports / NPD and other issues I’m involved in. From there, I’ll manage my day in order of priority. Pressing issues go right to the top of my list, then I work my way down to the lower priority items.

I prefer a balance of both. Home has its pros as I get to focus without interruptions. The office gives me the opportunity for face-to-face interaction and review in-process and new projects with the teams I deal with.

I’d definitely pick languages; Xhosa, Chinese and Spanish are languages I’d like to learn over the next decade.

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Mark Castro
Michael De Carvalho


I’m the Senior Business Development Director at IPL Packaging out of our NY office, and my role is to essentially expand market share in North America.

If not traveling, I’ll shower, get ready for the day, make breakfast for my two boys, get them on the bus and head to the office. At the office I light a candle daily for good energy, ask my Google speaker to play some Bob Marley, make a cup of coffee and quickly update myself of the latest news and trends in the industry etc. After this I’ll review my to-do list for the day, meetings or calls I may have and then get going!

Working at home is not for me! It makes life a bit easier in some ways but I don’t believe it’s good for productivity and, perhaps more importantly, mental health. Even with all the Zooms and Skypes I still enjoy the positive energy and interaction of physically being around another human. In the words of Aristotle “Man is by nature a social animal, an individual who is unsocial naturally and not accidentally is either beneath our notice or more than human. Society is something that precedes the individual”.

Currently I’m able to speak English, Portuguese and Spanish fluently, but I’d love the ability to learn an entirely new language; possibly Japanese.

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The pace of change in our world today is truly astonishing. In fact, since the dawn of the internet, our behaviour seems to have evolved faster than ever before in human history.

Global megatrends are driving new demands from consumers. Ubiquitous connectivity, the launch of 5G and connected technologies are all driving the desire for customised content and products – direct and on-demand. The climate crisis sees sustainability at the top of everyone’s agenda, in their homes and at work. The drive for equality and social justice sees those same people ask for more of businesses, whatever sector they’re in.

Add to this the push for more purposeful purchasing. More share-able experiences. More engaging, authentic brands. And it’s easy to see why businesses have to evolve quickly or be left behind.

These are all considerations you’ve likely designed into your own products. The truth is, however, despite the opportunities presented to us today, not everyone is keeping up with change.

The packaging world is one example of an industry that’s been sluggish to adapt. But that’s not a situation we’ll allow to go unchallenged.

As the experience your customers demand from your products has changed, so too has what your business needs from its packaging provider.

We believe there are three principles of future-readiness which, when applied to our packaging concept and execution processes, result in a cohesive and engaging 360o product experience, fit for today’s world.



Packaging is a multi-sensory experience. And not just that: in the age of unboxing, it’s fast becoming a key opportunity to strengthen the consumer-brand relationship.

New customer expectations demand a new mindset when it comes to design. And that means thinking beyond the shelf, to the world of digital.

How good does your product look online, and on social platforms? Is it desirable? Can it replicate the physical theatre of retail in a digital world? Or with the inclusion of technology, could it even surpass it?

Speaking of technology, does your product’s packaging create an unboxing experience that can be shared and admired? With 86% of Gen Z and 81% of Millennial shoppers more likely to purchase a product after seeing user-generated content such as photos, ‘hauls’ and unboxing videos, and the most popular unboxing channels gaining more YouTube views and subscribers than Ed Sheeran, its gravity can’t be ignored.

Of course, the COVID pandemic has also had an impact on design, with hygienic design adding a new consideration to the concepting process. And when it comes to the direct-to-consumer movement, how does your packaging look and feel when it arrives directly in homes, as opposed to being picked up in-store?

All of these considerations form part of initial conversations with our clients.

So we can be sure your customers are not only satisfied, but delighted with the entire unboxing process.


It can be difficult to find balance when it comes to production quality and speed of service. But that shouldn’t mean you need to compromise.

However strict your cost parameters, we can find a way to work within them. In fact, by looking at the way we approach packaging – evaluating every element of the supply chain from end-to-end – it’s possible to balance sustainability and design innovation, luxury and value. All without sacrifice.

And we don’t stop with the use of raw, ethically and sustainably sourced materials. With our global supplier network, we can find local supply options to shorten the logistics chain for every job, meaning from source to distribution, your production is as eco-friendly and economically viable as possible.

We will even help you to explore the second use – the second life – of your packaging, too.

So it takes a place in your customers’ lives beyond the original unboxing, and you have a truly sustainable product, at a sustainable price-point, for your business.


The rise of e-commerce means competition is fierce in almost every sector. And from initial design to the moment your product arrives with your customers, we know the pressure is on for you to achieve more efficiency and more value than ever.

You need faster production times. More flexible, bespoke manufacturing. More assurance of meeting the right regulations. And more localised supply and support.

That’s why we pride ourselves on being one of the most adaptable producers of luxury packaging in the world.

That includes thorough performance and regulatory checks, such as our Internal Vendor Qualification Audit: our in-depth audit of potential suppliers to check they’re reliable, efficient and able to meet our high standards for packaging production. We’ll complete the audit before any contracts are signed, checking a wide range of categories of technical proficiencies, as well as human resources and environmental policies, for your total piece of mind.

Whatever it is you need, we can align our processes to meet your requirements – no matter how complex they might be.


There’s no need to wait for the rest of the packaging industry to catch up with our changing world. At IPL, we’re already looking to the future to inform the luxury packaging experience, today.

Wherever you need our support, we’ll be right there alongside you. Whenever you have a question, a query or a new idea, we’ll provide informed insight and honest answers.

By freeing our thinking, we’re leading the market in offering a packaging experience that’s more responsive, more relevant and more reflective of the new world in which we’re all living and working.

For the people who are driving global demand.

For the generations of today and tomorrow.

For your brand and your customers.

How does your packaging line up in a changing world? Get in touch for your free next-generation packaging review, and talk to an IPL Packaging specialist about your business’ needs.

Don’t forget to sign up for next-generation packaging news from IPL, and be sure you don’t miss the latest game-changing industry developments and insights.



Considerations for high-end packaging: Retail vs online

Considerations for high-end packaging: Retail vs online

Considerations for high-end packaging: Retail vs online

The e-commerce industry is booming. There is no doubt that brands need to be selling their products online nowadays, as well as targeting traditional retail outlets. By using both platforms, a brand will be able to maximise sales and grow its target market. But is there a difference when it comes to packaging products for online versus retail? In short, yes.

Online shopping doubled in popularity and traffic in 2020 – a trend which is expected to continue in the coming years. Nearly one-third of all consumer goods, including luxury products, are purchased via the internet and delivered to the destination. This growth means that brands must adjust their designs and strategies to suit the online marketplace.

Via Florelle packaging
©Via Florelle
Via Florelle packaging
©Via Florelle
Sexy Ruby packaging
Net-a-porter packaging
©LuxuryPackaging.co.uk ©Luxe Digital

What packaging designers can change for online sales

Many brands now have two separate strategies; one for retail and one for online. Packaging designers should look at the durability of the materials being used, as well as the brightness and simplicity of their packaging designs for e-commerce stores. 

Retail sales have traditionally had the advantage of tangibility and in-person viewing. Allowing designers to create packaging that is tactile, detailed and more complex. Designers have had to also consider stackability and background display elements.

In the digital world, however, products displayed on a  screen, whether it is a phone or computer, are usually small. This means that fine details of a design may have less impact. Simple, high-contrast designs are easy to recognise and display well on a screen, which can then help to entice the buyer. The challenge is to ensure the box or pack stands out on a website without losing the brand identity that loyal customers know and expect. 

This does not mean that packaging designers should do away with unique designs and quirky boxes – after all, the unboxing experience still matters a great deal when the product is delivered. In summary, more focus needs to be given as to the brand’s primary sales strategy and where the most impactful visual message needs to be made.

What packaging developers can change for online sales

In addition to visual design challenges, products that are delivered around the world go through a rigorous journey to reach their destination. This means that the packaging must also be durable and tough enough to withstand the bumps along the journey and through sorting facilities.

Packaging for luxury goods encompasses many different substrates. While some of these substrates may look and feel beautiful, they can be easily damaged in the shipping and delivery stage of online shopping. Durable materials should be used as much as possible and protective packaging should be at the forefront of considerations for e-commerce.

Jimmy Choo shoe box

The objective should be on protecting the look and feel of the secondary pack but of course, ensuring that the luxury product inside remains intact. The packaging also needs to be compact and secure without adding additional weight. Heavy packs add to the cost of shipping, so material use and size are important considerations.

The increasing popularity of e-commerce is not going to slow down, so world-class packaging companies need to embrace these changes and remain ahead of the game.


IPL Packaging is a global luxury packaging supplier with offices in the USA, Europe, Mexico, Asia and Africa. Approved manufacturing is available in several Asian countries, as well as sites in Eastern Europe. We create bespoke, tailored and exclusive packaging for any premium or luxury brand and manage the entire process, from conceptualisation and design to production and delivery.

For more information on packaging solutions or to get an insight into our latest packaging trends, follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube or Pinterest. Keep an eye on our News section for insightful articles and innovative ideas around packaging materials, product development and design.