What do you think of, when you think of Italian brands? The answer is probably “luxury” and you might be right. According to a recent study by Interbrand’s Best Global Brands, three Italian brands stand out in the top 100 of high-value international firms and they are all part of the luxury market. Ferrari, Gucci and Prada are the three top-most examples of Italian excellence in the world.
Italian luxury brands: steady growth in a changing world
Interbrand’s study has reached its 18th edition and this year’s theme was “Growth in a Changing World”. The three criteria on which brands were ranked were “People”, “Technology” and “Brand”. We are living through exciting times, where change is happening at a faster rate than ever before, and affecting all aspects of our life. As technology evolves, it changes our everyday life and this is made possible by unprecedented industrial efforts in a variety of fields. Brands allow us to find order in the complexity of change and to drive growth in a positive way. What do we expect from technology? What do we expect from brands? How do brands harness these expectations and what do they do to meet them and achieve their own growth at the same time? What impact does this ultimately have on our life? Interbrand sought to answer these and other similar questions, by ranking 100 brands by their increase in value over the past year.
Automotive and fashion
Within the context of international luxury brands, Italy is synonym with automotive and fashion. This should not come as a surprise: the concept of elegance is an essential component Italian style as it is commonly understood and internationally promoted. These two fields have more in common than we might think: both have much to do with our perceived quality of life, both exist to meet basic needs (being clothed and travelling), but both can add to their original function by adding elements of quality that mark the difference between merely satisfying those needs and striving for excellence. Gucci’s performance was particularly remarkable, as the brand achieved a 6% increase in value and climbed up to the 51st position in the ranking. Many attribute this success to creative director’s Alessandro Michele’s strategy, that has allowed the brand to re-establish and strengthen its position in the global market. Ferrari is also going through a growth spurt, which is even more remarkable when we consider that this year marked the brand’s 70s birthday. Prada, while still present in the top 100, is the only Italian brand that actually fell back a few positions, thus proving that there is a difference between establishing a reputation for outstanding quality and translating it into actual financial growth.
Italian brands in the global market
What does this mean for Italian brands and Italian economy in general? While many have questioned the practice of outsourcing production (and in some cases headquarters), Italian luxury brands have had an indisputable positive influence on Italian economy, not least because they influence the way Italian style and Italian identity are perceived internationally. Cities like Milan and Rome, as well as Ferrari’s hometown of Maranello, continue to register an increase in “luxury tourism”, focused on specific brands and resulting in an influx of high-spending tourists. Moreover, the international growth of Italian brands contributes to the country’s perceived and real stability. Many claim that luxury brands had a vital role in pulling Italy through the financial crisis of the past years. Many more hope that other Italian brands will make the top 100 list in the coming years, and we have reason to believe that this might be the case, not just with luxury brands.