Italy is slightly behind the European average when it comes to internet penetration and online purchases; however, it is a market full of opportunity and one steadily growing. We have identified some of the key findings from our Guide to Effective Digital Marketing in Italy. Come with us on a journey through the country’s digital landscape, focusing on social and mobile, e-commerce, and the Italian language and culture.
Mobile and social
Italy has nearly 60 million inhabitants, but only 63% of them are online. Investment in technology has been lacking in the past, but it’s currently increasing. Social media are very popular in Italy, and among the biggest ones such as Facebook and WhatsApp, Instagram in particular offers a lot of opportunities for digital marketers.
Italians mainly access social networks from their phone, and mobile is extremely popular in the country, as 62% of people own a smartphone. Unfortunately, responsive design is not as implemented as it should be, and this can result in strong penalisations.
Figures associated with Italian e-commerce are at 38% compared to a European average of 40%, but they are regularly increasing. When it comes to buying online, Italians add prepaid cards to the list of the most popular international payment methods. This is mainly due to a distrust for the safety of online payments and the worry of card details being shared or accessed by unwanted sources. It’s interesting to notice that Italian businesses tend to operate online on international platforms such as Amazon and eBay, instead of creating their own website. Not only this, but Italians are big fans of the omnichannel formula, which combines the physical experience of looking for products in shops with the online experience of researching on multiple platforms and finally completing the purchase on the one with the best offer.
Apart from online, card payments are not very popular in Italy, and when buying in shops people still prefer to make cash payments. It’s important to be aware of the preferred delivery methods too, as the Italian postal service is often not reliable, especially with packages from abroad; private couriers are the best choice, especially when sending items of value.
An important trademark: Made in Italy
When it comes to specific sectors of the Italian market, such as fashion, food and drink, interior design and mechanical engineering, the products in these categories are grouped under the ‘Made in Italy’ trademark. This indicates products manufactured and produced in Italy, under Italian regulations.
Over the years, the ‘Made in Italy’ trademark has acquired value and merit in its home market as much as abroad, and Italians themselves prefer to buy ‘Made in Italy’ products over foreign ones. This can potentially constitute an obstacle for foreign businesses wanting to target Italy in these sectors; it is important to be aware of this trademark, and to remember that it can take longer to get established in these sectors and build trust.
The Italian language and culture: Why you need to know them well
Italians prefer to read online content written in their native language over accessing pages written in English; this means that any content you have written in another language needs to be translated, localised, and checked by a native speaker. Italians don’t like excessive formality, so an informal tone is preferred when addressing your online audience. In the case of young customers, humour is also popular, as are some key English expressions.
The Italian culture is full of all kinds of images, many of which are also used in advertising and in marketing. It is important to be aware of what these are, together with their connotations, as using the wrong one risks hindering your campaign.
To recap: Top things to bear in mind when marketing in Italy
- Mobile is very popular in Italy. You should have a responsive website.
- Italians love social media and are especially active on Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram.
- E-commerce is less common in Italy than the European average. Pre-paid cards are a popular payment method due to widespread distrust for the safety of online payments.
- The omnichannel formula works well in Italy.
- Private courier is the preferred delivery method for online purchases.
- Foreign brands should be aware of the popularity of the “Made in Italy” label and be patient when targeting certain sectors such as fashion, food and drink, interior design and mechanical engineering.
- All content targeting Italy should be written in Italian. And remember that Italians prefer an informal tone!
Anna Giulia Novero
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