If you are considering starting a business abroad and looking for the right place in which to begin your new entrepreneurial adventure, look no further: starting a business in Italy is the right thing to do in 2017. Foreign investments are being encouraged on a national and European basis and a recent industrial plan called Industria 4.0 has recently been launched, with the aim of increasing private investment in development and research. Italy also offers plenty of qualified workforce in several industries and yearly hosts several major trade shows, offering ample opportunities to engage with potential partners and buyers. With an overall positive and investment-friendly business climate, the only consideration left to make before starting a business in Italy, is which specific industry to invest in. Here’s a quick overview of 4 fields that have grown over the past years and that offer promising prospects for the immediate future.
After lagging behind the rest of Europe for several years, with regard to online purchasing habits, Italy seems at last to be catching up. The overall volume of online transactions has more than doubled in 2015 and the trend has not changed since. Mainstream retailers are still very much dominating the market, but smaller, local or niche operators are benefitting from the increased trust of Italian consumers earned by the likes of Amazon and Ebay and growing accordingly. A key factor in the increased success of e-commerce platforms in Italy has been the growing popularity of mobile commerce, which is often perceived as providing quicker and simpler purchases. Over 20% of online transactions in 2015 have been carried out on mobile devices. This might not be the specific field you want to operate in, but it is nonetheless vital for any new business to be able to rely on online sales, particularly at an earlier stage, when budget might prevent them from opening multiple stores or offices across the Country.
Beauty and wellness
The demand for beauty and wellness products has increased dramatically in 2016 and this market is currently worth over 10 Billion Euros. The National Association of Cosmetic Industries has published a research highlighting the increased demand for beauty products in Italy, as well as an increment in exports, both within the b2b and b2c markets. This is, of course, a reflection of the general growth in the national economy: as well as creating a larger direct demand for cosmetic products, this phenomenon reflected positively on professional outlets such as hairdressers and spas. Within this particular industry, one of the niches that have performed better in comparison with the 2015 market data is the natural and organic cosmetics market, suggesting a renewed interest in alternative approaches to beauty and wellness.
A few years ago, not many would have bet on videogames becoming a significant industry in Italy, and yet this seemingly underrated niche of entertainment is looking more and more like a viable business opportunity, with a market value of approximately 40 Million Euros. Of course, the videogame industry in Italy is still not yet in the same league as, say, the American one, but this makes the field quite an exciting one to work in at the moment. With smaller power, some might say, come minor responsibilities, meaning that there is room for experimentation and creativity, within a market that is certainly growing, but it still revolves around a galaxy of small firms and it is still looking to define its own identity.
Internet of Things & Smart Home
This is another somewhat unexpected success story in the context of Italian economy. While the market still can’t compare in size with the American one, a recent research by the Milan Polytechnic has highlighted a significant increase in the diffusion of smart home technologies in Italy. In 2016, the market for smart home devices has grown by an impressive 23%, reaching 185 Million Euros. While the business volume itself is still not internationally competitive, the increase is certainly significant. Within this niche, safety devices and alarms hold the lion share of this remarkable success. Because of the very nature of these devices, this particular field has prospered mostly through traditional sales and distribution channels.
Should you be starting a business in Italy in 2017?
We think so. Italy is a growing market, highly welcoming of foreign investors and entrepreneurs and set to expand rapidly over the next few years, as new technologies are made available to a larger public and new purchasing habits take hold. Starting a business in Italy now also means experiencing entrepreneurship in an environment which is quite unlike any other you will find in Europe (or in most western Countries), with a widespread concept of work-life balance that values quality of life at least as much as it values productivity. This is not to say that the Italian system is entirely free from flaws or that you won’t occasionally struggle with the local business mentality, but with the right partners you will be able to grow your business successfully and take part in the growth of one of the most promising markets in Europe.
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