All over the world Made-in-Italy continues to be a brand that represents quality, design and care for details. Now that the recovery has started, to affirm these values is even more important for Italian companies to strengthen their presence in the global market
by Elena Corti
Elegance, excellence, reliability and originality in design: this is what people expect when they buy a made-in-Italy home appliance, a product that stands out for its attention for detail and quality of materials and processing. A product not only beautiful, but also well done, the result of a know-how combining tradition and innovation, craftsmanship and technology of last generation. In a nutshell, the cultural and industrial expression of a country where beauty is at home. Design research has led the companies in the sector to create aesthetically attractive and refined devices but, at the same time, durable and safe thanks to the use of materials and components that guarantee high performances. In addition, excellence in production processes and technological innovation allow Italian producers to offer to the market solutions of professional level.
Italian companies, for the way they operate, could almost be compared to “boutiques”, because they are often small or medium organizations but large in sophistication and quality.
That of made-in-Italy household appliances is an industrial sector that does not renounce the excellence, despite the difficulties linked to the economic situation, because the “quality product” cannot afford a loss in style, it always must ensure high standards to compete in a sector where too often the “price war” dominates. These standards have been achieved by the Italian players thanks to a know-how that, for many companies, has been developed in a story of half a century, a journey during which companies have grown, establishing themselves not only on the national territory but also in foreign markets. The export orientation is, in fact, one of the strengths of these great little “boutique” of the appliance, which bring made-in-Italy in the world: a distinctive brand that, not by chance, they proudly exhibit on their products and in all that regards the corporate communication.
Encouraging signs from the market
Finally an air of moderate recovery is blowing in the domestic appliances sector and this may be an opportunity to strengthen the presence of made-in-Italy products at a global level, playing on quality appliances with high added value. Exports continue to play a strategic role for Italian companies, which have often faced the weakness of the internal market by focusing on foreign countries, where the Italian style is a status symbol. Emerging nations have become an increasingly important trade channels in recent years, thanks to the presence of the so-called new rich. At the beginning of 2015, the Blog Ulisse website had published a ranking of world markets that an exporter of home system products, oriented to the premium segment, should have considered with particular attention. The ranking was drafted using data collected by the Ulisse Information System, which measures the flow of international trade divided by price range and provides forecasts on the evolution of imports of 153 countries. The ten most attractive countries for exports resulted to be: the US, Japan, United Kingdom, Germany, China, Canada, South Korea, France, Poland and Mexico.
Data concerning the world demand for home-furnishing industry in the first half of 2015 largely confirmed what was expected at the beginning of this year. According to information gathered by the Ulisse Information System, the global demand for these products category recorded a growth in value of 12.7% (in euro) compared to the first half of 2014. The US were the driving market, with an increase in imports of 24.6 billion euro in comparison to the corresponding period of 2014 (a trend increase of 28%). The following are: China (+4.2 billion euro, + 23.1%), Mexico (+2.9 billion euro, +25.8%), the UK (+2.8 billion euro, +15.6%) and Canada (+1.6 billion euro, +12%). In the Asian area, in the first half of 2015 imports of products of home-furnishing sector increased also in India (+1.2 billion euro, +30.2%) and Japan (+0.8 billion euro, +4.4%). Positive contributions also came from the Australian market (+1 billion euro, +13.3%), while as regards Europe, we must underline the increase in demand in the Spanish market (+0.84 billion euro, +11%) and Poland (+0.76 billion euro, +11.5%).
Further encouraging signs for those who produce made-in-Italy home appliances come from data on exports of products of the home system from strategic areas in Italy. In the second quarter of 2015, exports from the province of Varese (Lombardy) recorded an increase of 8.9% (in value terms, in euro) compared to the same period of 2014: household appliances had a leading role, reaching an increase of 12.9%. Exports of house-system products are growing also in the province of Brescia, (+6.2%) and Bologna (+ 2.4%).
For what concerns the coming years, according to forecasts by StudiaBo, the global demand for home appliances is expected to grow around 6% average yearly in the period 2015-2017, thus indicating a re-acceleration in global demand for these products.
If foreign markets are a development opportunity for companies of the made-in-Italy, also the domestic market is beginning to show more encouraging signs. In particular, the data collected by Ceced Italia on major appliances for the first eight months of 2015 indicate an increase of sell-in in Italy equal to or greater than 5% for washing machines, free standing refrigerators and dryers. Ovens are growing instead by 2.9% and hobs by 0.7%. Some positive signs, therefore, are found also in the Peninsula and for made-in-Italy companies this can be a fruitful ground to make emerge the values of a quality product.
Two factors not to be underestimated
To catch the new needs of consumers and the changes in progress, two factors deserve to be considered carefully. First, the fact that the idea of quality is increasingly combined with the request of eco-sustainability. The made-in-Italy product cannot express only style and professionalism, but also has to ensure care and respect for the environment. In this context, many Italian companies have already active, producing appliances able to combine high performance, design and efficiency.
A further element to be monitored is the growing importance of Internet, both as regards the diffusion of tools such as blogs and social networks (the choice of a brand is increasingly influenced by the digital world) and, as regards the importance of e-commerce, also for high-end and medium range goods. Investing in an integrated on-line/off-line approach can be a significant growth factor for made-in-Italy. A survey conducted by the Boston Consulting Group in the global market of high-end goods (including technological products and furniture) shows that on about 10.000 respondents in ten countries, only 38% turn exclusively to the store for information /purchase. While 45% made researches on-line and bought off-line, 9% looked for a product in the store and bought it on-line and 8% made everything on-line. Moreover, the same survey has underlined that for 75% of buyers of high-end goods, interviewed worldwide, the omnichannel approach is important: this figure reached 90% for Chinese consumers and 78% for Americans.
|Made-in-Italy inside the Italian system
Exploring new markets is not always easy for SMEs: for this reason it is important to take every opportunity to create a system, reinforcing the critical mass and catching new opportunities to bring made-in-Italy in the world. One possibility is Internovation, the business network created by Ceced Italia and by local associations of Confindustria in the home appliance districts: among the recent initiatives, we can mention a mission in Ecuador (which saw the participation of companies that produce induction hobs in Italy) and the cooperation agreement with the Industrial Association of Lipetsk (Russian Federation), to develop business opportunities between Russian and Italian companies, especially from the Marche region.