If you ever considered starting a business, importing Italian goods into your own country, now might be a right time to put your plan into action. According to the Italian Trade Agency, the Italian export market is set to blow past the 50bn € mark by the end of the year, thanks to the undisputed excellence of Italian exports. Italian industries have managed to stay competitive on international markets without ever compromising on the quality of their products. There are of course consolidated exports, fields in which Italy has established a name of itself and what could be called a national brand identity, to the point that Italian products in certain fields are automatically considered to be better than their equivalents from other countries. This is the case with several food and agricultural products, industrial design and fashion brands, textiles and wine. There are also industrial sectors, such as the high-tech and aerospace ones, in which Italy is growing a reputation for itself, or rather rebuilding one that had been established in before and immediately after WWII. How do Italian exports currently work? Along which channels do they travel and what products are leading them? Here’s a quick overview.
Analog vs digital
Our usual attempt at challenging national stereotypes might fall at this hurdle, as when it comes to exports, Italian companies still like to do things the traditional way. E-commerce is gaining traction in the Country, but so far less than 5% of Italian exports are traded online, with the vast majority being distributed through international online retailers and marketplaces. The biggest selling point for these channels, of course, is the possibility of cutting out the middle man almost entirely and distributing directly to the public, thus allowing for a substantial cut in costs for logistics and financial transactions and subsequent reinvestment in promotion. For obvious reasons, the fashion industry is the field that has been taking the most advantage of online trading resources, whereas producers of industrial design goods, furniture and food tend to fall back on more traditional means of distribution.
Europe and the US are still the main markets for Italian Exports
The US market currently seems to be the most receptive to Italian exports, closely followed by the European one (with Germany in the lead). Russia, always in a class of its own with regard to Italian exports, stands out among extra-European markets, together with Japan, whereas the rest of the Asian market and the South American market still offer plenty of scope for development. The overall increase in Italian Exports somewhat contradicts a stream of catastrophic forecast that, over the last decade, had predicted that the competition from emerging markets would swamp exports from western countries and particularly countries in the Mediterranean area. Such predictions were based on the assumption that the economic advantages of exports from those economies would, in the eye of international investors, outrank the risks of political unrest. This proved not to be the case and, as a Country with relative political stability and a solid infrastructural and manufacturing base, Italy found itself in an excellent position with regard to international exports.
Protecting the Made in Italy brand
As we have already mentioned in a previous post, in order to sport the Made in Italy brand a product really has to have been literally, physically made in Italy. And yet most western markets are swamped with Italian-sounding products, packaged, branded and presented in a way that would lead the consumer to believe that they are actually genuinely Italian, while they might not be Italian exports at all. In fact, faking the Made in Italy brand is so strongly perceived as a gateway to good sales that as many as four in five products with Italian names are likely not to have anything to do with Italy. A good way of spotting fake-Italian products is to track down the company’s details: if the brand does not have an Italian address and can not factually back up its claims with a credible brand history, chances are you are dealing with the same people that convinced that Fettuccine Alfredo were a thing (they are not. They are really not).