IPL Circles Back to Cuba & Mexico

It’s been an interesting last year for IPL with two visits to Cuba to explore first-hand the business landscape there as well as get a feel for the potential of that market for the future. We also spent time in IPL’s newest office based in Mexico City with our fantastic Mexican team. There is no substitute for putting feet on the ground to really get a handle on practical challenges/ opportunities in a particular market.

Cuba is a fascinating journey into the past where literally everything, including the business opportunities, seems firmly stuck in the 1950’s. A country where you cannot use a credit card if it’s for a U.S. based bank and where drawing money is an exercise in futility. So arm yourself with cash and patience if you wish to visit and do business there.

For IPL our International footprint has been an absolute blessing in Cuba. The trade embargo still exists despite President Obama’s loosening of restrictions and most business visitors come from Europe or Latin America as it is remains illegal for US based companies to conduct any business there. That being said, there are not yet that many opportunities to explore as the market is still very underdeveloped and many businesses remain restricted by the US sanctions and by their reliance on their proximity to that country. However, there are still some top International brands based there and there’s recognition for others that it’s only a matter of time before the market completely opens up for them – so they are gearing up to meet this exciting new challenge of having the US available soon to showcase and sell their products.​

IPL’s experience in working with the Spirits category as well as fine cigars allowed us to secure some great meetings and there are exciting prospects on the horizon. So, watch this space for new Cuban based IPL projects in the not too distant future.

Mexico is a different proposition entirely. With a population of 120 million people it is a far bigger and more established market than Cuba but not without its challenges either. The weak Mexican Peso is making it very difficult for most of the large global brands to continue to import their packaging needs and local competition is very well established in certain manufacturing spaces.

The Tequila market though is growing and so too are their luxury brands and this kind of high end packaging is a struggle to produce domestically as there just is not the skill set available locally to realise the complex more premium packs that their high value products demand.

Local business owners as well as the larger international brand owners remain remarkably patriotic and often prefer to work with local teams based in Mexico, so having our own team in situ there has proven to be a huge advantage. That coupled with the charm of the country and the warmth of everyone we work with has us incredibly excited about the future prospects and I am excited to share too that we have some great new projects in the pipeline for Mexico and Lat​in America as a whole so I am sure I will continue to travel these routes and work with our teams globally on extending our IPL offerings and experience.

Apart from all, both countries offer incredibly diverse photographic subjects. If you are a keen photographer like me, both destinations were also ‘camera heaven’.