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Capetown, South Africa

Monthly Market Spotlight: Italy

Posted 09 September 2021

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The home of La Dolce Vita and all things stylish, Italy has long been considered a jewel in the heart of Europe with its beautiful and varied scenery. Steeped in a plethora of history and once enjoying far-reaching influence across the globe, the Italy of today is somewhat different to the Roman powerhouse it once was.

Italy has the 8th largest economy on Earth, with a recorded GDP of $2 trillion in 2019. Covid-19 and the subsequent lockdown imposed by the government hit the economy hard, however, causing the economy to contract by approximately 10% in 2020.

The future looks much brighter for Italy though, with the GDP estimated to bounce back by 6.5%, making it an ideal time to consider entering this growing market.

Italy Key Market Data

Valued at EUR 31.6 billion in 2019, Italy’s business-to-consumer e-commerce market is relatively reserved in comparison to some of its European neighbours. However, a shift in shopping habits, in part due to the pandemic, has escalated the popularity of online shopping.

Food subscription services have become popular over the last 18 months as traditional market-based shopping habits have been eroded, while sports and outdoor equipment sales dramatically increased by 236% in 2020.

Digital Marketing in Italy

Italy’s population, currently in a state of decline, decreased by 0.2% between January 2020 and January 2021, with 28.8% of individuals living in rural areas. Some parts of Italy have a poor communications infrastructure, especially in the countryside, which has, in turn, slowed down the rate of internet penetration.

In January 2021, there were 50.5 million internet users, representing a growth of 2.2% and a rate of internet penetration of 83.7%.

As with many other countries, some mobile users operate more than one device. There were 77.71 million mobile connections in January 2021, equivalent to 128.6% of the total population. This indicates that a ‘mobile first’ approach to digital marketing will be effective in this market.

Google is the dominant search engine in Italy, taking a market share of 95%, followed by Bing (3%) and Yahoo (0.8%).

Domestic search engines do exist in Italy; however, the share of the search market they absorb is negligible. The most popular Italian search engine is Virgilio.

Search Engine Optimisation for Italy

As Google.IT is the dominant search engine in this market, the SEO strategies you use for your English website will work well. Be sure to conduct your keyword research in Italian (as opposed to directly translating your English keywords) and ensure the majority of your backlinks pointing to your Italian content are from Italian domains.

Social Media

Social media is used frequently in Italy, with over 41 million social media users in January 2021. Facebook is the preferred social channel, followed by Instagram and LinkedIn. The uptake of Twitter is lower in Italy than in the rest of Europe.

Pay Per Click

As Google and Facebook are both popular platforms in Italy, search and display ads can be an effective way to target consumers. Variances in language and culture vary significantly throughout Italy, so make sure you localise your ads based on the region of your promotions. As internet penetration is fairly low in rural areas, it is also worth focusing your efforts on towns and cities.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is a highly successful channel in Italy, enjoying the second-highest open rate globally (31.3%). As part of the EU, Italy observes strict data controls under GDPR – ensure any outbound campaigns are compliant to avoid large fines.

Legal Requirements

Italy is somewhat renowned for its bureaucratic approach to the law, and it is no different for e-commerce companies selling products in this market. Websites must clearly define cookie policies and terms and conditions. Other information you must display includes:

Company name, registered office, VAT number, registration number in the register of companies, share capital, contact information; specify if the company is in liquidation and indicate whether the company is a single-member company.

Conversion Rate Optimisation

Website Domain & Design

Italians place a great deal more trust in websites with a .it TLD. They also go by the saying “Se vendo parlo la tua lingua, se compro tu devi parlare la mia,” which means “If I sell, I speak your language, if I buy, you speak mine.” This saying emphasises the importance of localising your website for this market with Italian content reflective of the culture and customs.

If you’d like to find out more about how to be successful in Italy contact us today!

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