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International retailing of « Made in Italy » products

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The results of a market research carried out in the UK and France revealed some interesting pieces of information about how brands leverage the “country of origin” dimension in the stores.

This market study was presented at the International Marketing Trends Conference that took place in January 2014 in Venice and is the result of the work of 8 researchers.

It starts by showing that the previously acknowledged COO (Country of Origin) dimension has been slowly split between COD (Country of Design) and COM (Country of Manufacturing). At this point you may remember what’s written on the back of your iphone. If you don’t know what I’m talking about just look at your device …

The aim of the project : help SME’s

The aim of the project is defined as follows by their authors

The research aims to identify a theoretical framework to define some guidelines and best practices that could support Italian small and medium-sized companies. Some structural factors of Italian companies, such as their small size, deeply affect their efficiency and their capability to understand and operate on the new emerging markets. The purpose of providing information is going to be fulfilled thanks to academic and national institutions researches.

In this context, we plan to collect a set of best practices developed by Italian and European companies in that market, to understand the possible causes of failure in brand management strategies, in order to understand the cultural differences in business activities concerning retail and communication strategies that aim to create brand equity

Mystery Shopping techniques used in various stores

A team of observers was used to in 6 points of sales to collect information and pictures about how “Made in Italy” products were displayed. In the UK researchers viited Design Works and Diesel stores; in France Calzedonia, Carrefour and Printemps.

Interesting results

Interestingly the “Made in Italy” was found to be recalled in a few stores (the other have nothing special to differentiate Italian products) through colors, text, sales employees speeches, testimonial, music, leaflets and images. Yet, there were a lot of other dimensions that remain unused to promote Italian brands. The authors conclude on the lack of international strategy by Italian companies which seem to be “shy” about putting their Italian DNA ahead. A lot of potential remains untapped in showing a distinctive and affirmed personality outside of Italy.

One thing is sure … the advertising agency of Monte Paschi di Belgio (see below) perfectly got the “Made in Italy” touch in the ad they created for the Italian bank. It was published several times in the SNBrussels Airlines inflight magazine Bthere and displays a group of three typical Italian males. Looking at their postures I’m actually wondering whether this ad did any good to the bank. Would you give your money to three young men in blue suits reading newspapers on a sofa ?

Advice for your marketing strategy

This research shows (with a very interesting combination of different market research techniques) that SME’s can (and should) develop an international marketing strategy for their products.

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Author: Pierre-Nicolas Schwab

Dr. Pierre-Nicolas Schwab is the founder of IntoTheMinds. He specializes in e-commerce, retail and logistics. He is also a research fellow in the marketing department of the Free University of Brussels and acts as a coach for several startups and public organizations. He holds a PhD in Marketing, a MBA in Finance, and a MSc in Chemistry. He can be contacted by email, Linkedin or by phone (+32 486 42 79 42)

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