Here, we delve into Italy’s consumer market, uncovering the nation’s buying habits, exploring which sectors are growing, despite a shaky period in the country’s economy, and discussing the facts and figures behind Italy’s import market. We also ask who could benefit from current trends in the Italian economy and how you can give your business a head start, should you decide to take the leap and begin trading with or in this beautiful country.
What does the Italian economy look like today?
While it’s true that the country currently faces some negative trade factors (slow economic recovery, political instability and high unemployment, for example) there are also plenty of positive elements that should prove encouraging to foreign brands exploring potential new markets.
Italy’s current population has a life expectancy of 80 for men, and 84 (for women.) By 2030, the median age of an Italian citizen will be fifty. This ageing population has taken advantage of favourable economic conditions and are predominantly wealthy, with excellent spending power. Over the coming decades, Italy will experience a high demand for specialist goods and services, targeted at the retirement market. Now is the time for forward-thinking companies to design, produce and bring these products to the market – the available opportunities are many and varied.
A sharp rise in the number of single-person households is also a contributing factor to economic growth, as individuals with secure employment and without children are enjoying a high level of disposable income. Then there’s a surprising phenomenon, which has seen an increase in spending by young people, pessimistic about their prospects. Still living at home with parents, this generation has adopted the outlook that saving for an uncertain future is futile, and that the housing market will remain both inhospitable and inaccessible for years to come. This has led to a ‘live for the moment’ mentality, which sees this generation spending the cash they do have on novelty or luxury items, seeking to emulate a lifestyle that they don’t believe is viable in the long-term.
If you can tap into these markets and meet the desire for novelty and luxury goods, there could be a place for your brand within the Italian market.
What do Italian consumers spend their money on?
- Eating out and hotel stays
- Clothing and footwear
- Recreation and culture
Spending on health is low on the average Italian’s list of priorities, but so too is spending on consumption of alcohol and tobacco (which makes sense.)
These categories highlight the Italian desire to enjoy life; seeking enriching experiences and luxury goods. Does your product fit with this general picture?
How can I harness Italian consumer behaviour?
We all appreciate quality products, but most Italians demand them. The average Italians also expect a high level of customer service, as standard, and will choose a company that excels in this field over one that sells the same product for a cheaper price or offers regular money-saving promotions.
Like many modern consumers, Italians are beginning to think more carefully about the provenance of their products and to seek out locally made goods. Issues of cost still dominate, however, so products sourced from overseas are very much in the running – if the quality is right and the overall sales experience good.
According to market analysis conducted by Santander in 2018, growing sectors in the Italian consumer market include:
- Food and drink
- Luxury goods and fashion
- Industrial equipment
If your product or service fits within one of these booming areas, now might be the time to carve out a niche within the Italian consumer market. Developing a streamlined sales process and above average customer service experience is essential, as is providing a quality product and having the ability to describe what makes it unique.
What are Italy’s major import markets?
This figure translates as an impressive $7,300 in yearly product demand from each Italian citizen – that’s a huge potential market to tap into!
Among the top imports to Italy are minerals and nonferrous metals, along with transport and energy products and chemicals. The country has a distinct lack of minerals and metals, which are needed in order to manufacture goods. Italy also imports products like oil from overseas energy providers, as there is also a lack of natural resources (like oil deposits.)
The following list, compiled by www.worldstopexports.com, shows the top ten import categories in 2018, with a percentage of total imports in brackets by each item.
1. Mineral fuels including oil: US$54.2 billion (12%)
2. Vehicles: $48.5 billion (10.7%)
3. Machinery including computers: $44.3 billion (9.8%)
4. Electrical machinery, equipment: $34.6 billion (7.6%)
5. Pharmaceuticals: $23.2 billion (5.1%)
6. Plastics, plastic articles: $20.5 billion (4.5%)
7. Iron, steel: $19 billion (4.2%)
8. Organic chemicals: $14.3 billion (3.2%)
9. Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $12.3 billion (2.7%)
10. Gems, precious metals: $10.2 billion (2.2%)
This top ten represent 62.2% of the overall value of Italy’s product purchases from other countries this year.
Currently, Italy conducts the highest value trade deals with other European countries (including the UK, Germany, France, Spain and Switzerland) along with the USA and, increasingly, China.
Italy’s relatively affluent domestic market, access to the European Common Market, closeness to emerging economies in North Africa and the Middle East along with an abundance of centres of excellence in scientific and IT research make Italy a highly attractive prospect to many investors.
Why communication is key when moving into the Italian market.
Given the Italian demand for excellent customer service, it’s all-important to provide clear communication throughout your sales process and marketing materials. The ability to speak your client’s language is vital in order to adequately describe your product or service, boost sales, increase productivity and promote your brand. I can help you identify the areas where translation will be required.
As a native Italian with more than 10 years of experience in the field, I will ensure that your marketing translations read well and are suitable for your target market. I can ensure that your copy stands out in the Italian marketplace, giving your brand the best chance of success.
If you’re looking to translate product presentations, press releases, brochures, websites, blogs, digital marketing, PPC and social media content from French or English into Italian, my experience and knowledge will help your company stand out from the pack.
Get in touch for an informal chat or to request a bespoke quote.