Italian fine food – assured success


italian fine foodWhile the global economic crisis has not hit the luxury market too hard, it has dented the sales of Italy’s producers of italian fine food.

Whereas once upon a time makers of fine foods in Italy did not really bother with the export market, more and more are discovering that there is demand for their products outside of Italy. As a consequence, more people around the world are becoming familiar with Italy’s food products. Italy is a brand in itself and, owing to the reputation Italy enjoys for the quality of its food products, they tend to sell themselves – provided they can be found.

This is very good news for luxury dealers specialising in high quality foods and is also good news for wholesalers who distribute high quality Italian food products to upmarket restaurants as it means they can extend their product offerings. A greater range of products tends to translate into more sales, which leads to greater profits.

While certain Italian delicacies might not appeal to the tastes of some people in some markets, in other markets, they are likely to go down very well indeed. As a dealer specialising in fine foods, you will be aware of what your customers like, however, you will also be constantly on the look out for new and interesting products. You may dedicate some of your time to researching new products by attending food fairs. In fact, you may well be coming to the 2015 Milan Expo in search of new product lines.

Research can, of course, be very productive, but it can also be time consuming and can result in occasional costly errors. You may believe your customers will like a particular product but, alas, it does not prove as popular as you hoped. These things happen. However, there is a way of reducing the likelihood of such problems occurring.

This is where a local partner can be very useful and especially if that local partner knows the tastes of those outside of Italy. For many years, my company has helped luxury dealers throughout the world identify Italian food products which sell in many different markets. Let us know where you are from, what you sell at the moment and we can help you find other products which will appeal to customers in your nation.

Don’t wait too long to seek out assistance or else you might be beaten to it by one of your competitors.

Are you interested in italian fine food? Contact me!

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Handbags – the next Luxury Accessory for Men?


Pitti Uomo, a fashion trade fair held in Florence, Italy, is known for identifying and setting trends. At recent edition, photographs of male models carrying a range of handbags were evident.

Handbags for MenA new trend might be set and luxury dealers might want to keep an eye on its evolution. Maybe men in your nation will take to “manbags” or maybe not. In Italy, men can often be seen carrying small bags. In the cooler months, such men may be older Italians, but during the hotter seasons, men of all ages can be see with bags.

There’s a reason why bags become popular with men in the summer months in Italy: they are practical.

Summer clothes tend to be lightweight which means keys can punch holes in pockets and coins tend to jangle too.

Pop your keys and coins in a small bag and these little problems disappear. Nowadays, of course, men tend to carry mobile phones and other electronic gizmos around with them. Once again, when the summer months arrive and it becomes too hot to wear a jacket, somewhere is needed to keep all these items – this is were a bag for men can come in very useful indeed.

While in some cultures, men carrying the male equivalent of handbags may not be considered too manly, this prejudice can be overcome by designing bags which don’t look overly feminine. That these bags for men are inherently practical is another selling point which clever marketers can exploit.

Now, if bags for men do become fashionable, you can be sure Italy’s luxury makers will be producing ranges of attractive and stylish bags. As a luxury dealer, you will want to sell products your customers want. And very soon, your male customers may be looking for practical bags.

My advice is to keep an eye on the popularity of bags for men – they could turn out to be the luxury fashion accessory of 2015.

I also recommend following Pitti’s regular Florence trade fairs closely. If you do ever attend one of Pitti’s fashion trade fairs, do not enter into any agreements on the spot. Wait until the event is over before making contact with the producer whose items caught your eye – you’ll be able to negotiate better terms and this, of course, will ensure your profit margins are higher.

If you want to keep up with luxury industry news and issues, such as counterfeiting, contact me!

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Italy gastronomy tour: make 2015 a gastronomic succes


Italy gastronomy tourWhile Italian cuisine and food enjoys an outstanding reputation throughout the world, not all of Italy’s food products are that well known. This translates into lots of hidden potential for businesses specialising in high quality foods.

The fly in the ointment is that it’s not always easy to find Italian specialities let alone producers which have a reputation for making them. Then there’s the ever problematic aspect of establishing a working relationship with Italian businesses. Aside from the language barrier, cultural aspects relating to doing business in Italy can create obstacles and valuable opportunities can easily be lost.

One thing businesses looking for speciality food products can do is to come to Italy and visit all 20 regions and as many towns and cities in those regions as they possibly can. Though you might find it hard to believe, the variety of Italian foods is so extensive that you might find, or miss, a wonderful product in one town but not in another which may only be a short distance away.

Or else you may come across a low quality uninspiring version of one product and miss out on the high quality version of the same product produced across the road.

Obviously, in view of the time and cost involved, research tours of Italy are not practical for most businesses. The language barrier would present an obstacle too.

An alternative is to visit food fairs in your own nation in the hope of coming across interested new Italian products for your business to stock. While this can work, not all of Italy’s food producers attend food fairs all over the world so you may miss certain products that are likely appeal to you customers.

Is there a way round such problems? Yes, there is. What you need is a specialist local partner based in Italy, someone who knows what Italy can offer.

A partner who knows the tastes of other nationalities can help select food products that are likely to match the tastes of Indians, Chinese, Brazilians or the people from a multitude of other nations. If the right product is chosen from the start, less market testing will be required and this, of course, will save your business money.

You’ll still have to invest in marketing and advertising although you can be fairly certain that those who buy and try the new products will like them.

Another advantage is that a local partner can help your business keep costs down by advising whether asking prices are too high or not.

Containing costs means you can keep your profit margin where you want it to keep profit levels up.Is your business considering expanding its range of high quality gastronomic product in 2015? If so, then consider the assistance of a specialist local partner.

Helping businesses identify product opportunities in Italy is what my company does and we’ve been doing it for a long time. If you think we might be able to help you, contact us.

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Italian Companies Still Hungry for Export Business


How to Approach Italian Companies for Business If there’s one positive aspect of the global economic crisis, it’s that companies in Italy have become more prepared to seek new markets for their products.
Italy’s wine producers are selling more and more italian wine overseas and, of course, other businesses in many different sectors would like to follow suit.

What might happen is that a representative of an Italian company offering luxury designer furniture or whatever, may turn up on the doorstep of one of your competitors. If this happens, and it might, then your luxury business will lose out.

What you need is a pre-emptive strike – only no nasty nuclear missiles will be needed. You need to encourage an Italian business to choose to build a relationship with you as opposed to with one of your competitors.

You will need to carry out in-depth research into the luxury products your business will be able to sell to your customers. Perhaps you are looking for complimentary products or maybe you are on the look out for something completely new and original. In both cases, plenty of research will be needed but carrying our all the investigations may not be easy.

With regard to the Italian market, you may also lack local knowledge which means you may risk overlooking a product that would suit your business very well. Alternatively, the business you missed may get in touch with one of your competitors.

To help you with research and with establishing a working relationship with businesses in Italy, you might like to consider some assistance.

This is where my business can help you by saving you time and, of course, money. Not only can my staff and myself help you find businesses in Italy which produce the products you are looking for, we can also suggest other products which would be likely to boost your businesses profits and enhance its reputation.

We can help you find many different luxury goods: from fashion and footwear to jewellery, perfumes, food, wine, and furniture.

Not only this, but we know businesses in Italy which can produce private label goods. Products which can carry your exclusive brand but which benefit from having been created in Italy. Don’t let your competitors beat you to it. Get in touch to learn how we can help you build your luxury business and benefit from the cachet of Italian quality and style.

If you want to keep up with italian companies, subscribe to my newsletter.

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The 12th China Department Store Summit


China Department Store Summit


Today China represents a huge and growing market for luxury brands and retailers. The China Department Store Summit, held every year in Jinjiang, brings together the major protagonists of the retail sector, in China and abroad. In fact, the Ministry of Commerce, together with the most important retail associations in the country are the sponsors of this summit.


The 12th China Department Store Summit took place on the 27th and 28th of March in 2014 and saw the participation of speakers from the Chinese Government and from important companies worldwide, such as Gao Hongbing, Vice President of Alibaba and Zhang Yuejin, General Director of Lufthansa Shopping Mall. I was one of the only two speakers that were not Chinese, together with Matthew Shay. The latter is the President of the National Retailer Federation of United States, the most important association of retailer in the world that works in close collaboration with the Obama administration.


Salvo Spagna - China Department Store SummitThe China Departments Store Summit is without doubts an important event to attend for a luxury advisor and for everyone interested in this delicate topic. With my almost 30 years of experience in Made in Italy luxury goods (that comprehend food, fashion and furniture), this is the right auditorium to speak to and with about the future of retail, the creation of a new experience for consumers and various cases of brand building. China is now one of the main markets for Made in Italy luxury goods and to keep this trend constantly growing, it is important, for Italian and foreign companies interested on Italian luxury, to understand how the market works in this country.


This is why my team and I are focusing our attention on China, by helping companies to navigate in this peculiar market, by valorizing Italian brands and by organizing sell and purchase of goods. If you need advices on the subject, do not hesitate to contact me!


In the meantime, if you have curiosities or you need tips, you can find here an extract from my book, Make a Profit with Italian Luxury, which is also translated in Chinese.

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Beware of Self-Proclaimed Luxury Associations


Beware of Self-Proclaimed Luxury AssociationsFinding information on luxury market trends is not always easy. While some sources are reliable, such as Italy’s Altagamma Foundation, others may not be as trustworthy. Indeed, some associations claim to luxury industry experts when they are not.


Take, for example, the case of the so called World Luxury Association which claimed it was involved in luxury market regulation when in actual fact the association was a fraud. Yes, in the complex world of luxury where counterfeit goods are a more or less permanent headache, fake organisations exist too.


Understanding whether or not such organisations are legitimate may not be straightforward. As a luxury dealer, you may be surfing the world wide web looking for information and you land on what looks like a valid website. The presentation of the site looks acceptable and your first impression is positive. You even decide to pay for an annual subscription to receive ‘exclusive insider information’.


Once the first newsletter arrives you realise that your subscription was worthless and that the self-proclaimed luxury association was merely a way to subtract money from visitors. Still, you have only lost a sum of money. It could have been worse. Much worse. You may have relied on the information provided by this association and used it to take crucial business decisions only to discover that the recommendations and suggestions did not work at all. As a result, your business lost a lot of money.


How can you avoid the luxury association frauds? Like any patient who’s told he has a serious health condition, you seek a second opinion. Before relying on information you find on the world wide web, check that it is legitimate. Speak to industry experts or even your competitors and attempt to discover whether the amazing sounding claims are accurate or not. You could, for example, contact myself and my team. My business has operated in the global luxury market for many years so we can tell you whether an association and its advice is legitimate or whether it is little more than an attempt to steal your money and endanger your business.


Be wary of the internet – as in real life, appearances can be highly deceptive.

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Luxury Seasons – It’s always Summer Somewhere!


Like all shoppers, luxury buyers tend to be influenced by seasons. Luxury stores tend to stock summer season items before hot months and sell colder weather wear and goods when winter approaches. Perhaps, though, luxury stores should carry stock suitable for any season. Why? I’ll explain.


Luxury stores all over the world attract luxury shoppers from all around the world. Some of those shoppers may come from hotter nations such as the United Arab Emirates, others, may live in nations where temperatures are lower.


Imagine a customer from Australia who visits a store in the winter in New York or London. That customer may not be interested in winter wear while its summer in Australia. On the other hand, this shopper may well be interested in light clothing which could be worn in the heat of an Australian summer.


 Luxury Seasons


A shrewd luxury dealer might keep a line of summer clothes visible for visitors from warmer climes. Or, a line of warm coasts, for example, for shoppers visiting in when it is mid summer in your nation but cooler in the customer’s nation. A late winter or summer sale might be in order to help sell some of those items which have been left over from one season to another.


Selling winter and summer clothing alongside one another would be much easier for e-commerce operations catering to luxury customers. Indeed, a clever programmer could ensure that visitors from certain areas of the world land on web-pages which reflect the climate in their nation at the time. Few shoppers would be interested in linen clothing when the temperature is low in their nations of origin.


With a little imagination and some technical expertise, web sites can be adapted to cater for different seasonal tastes. Though this is more difficult for bricks and mortar shops, it is not impossible and may boost sales.


One group of stores which could benefit from sections catering to different seasons within the same store are airport shops. Visitors to airport shopping areas come from all over the world and will be on the look out for items which suit their climate especially if they are on their way home. This is especially true of airports which act as international hubs.


“But my customers won’t want to try on heavy coats in mid-summer”, you may cry. Well, that depends on how effective the air conditioning system in your store is.


As well as clothes and other fashion items, stockists of luxury foods and wines could also ensure that products on display appeal to visitors from both warmer and colder climates. Once again, web based stores could benefit from targeting products to the seasons in the nations of the countries from which their visitors arrive.


As a luxury dealer, have you experimented with displaying items for hotter and cooler areas of the world in parallel? If so, what were your results?


If you have not experimented with running multi-season lines at the same time, then perhaps you should consider this.

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How to Use Hotels to Market Your Luxury Goods Business


Luxury customers often pass time in destinations all around the world and while they are in Milan, New York, Buenos Aires, Beijing, or wherever, they may well want to explore local luxury stores and zones well know for luxury outlets. As a luxury business always on the lookout for customers, you can help. Cooperation is key.


When people visit a city with which they are unfamiliar, they may not know where the best luxury shopping areas are. Yes, they may well know a few brands or even be aware of a shop or two, but they may not know where to go to find the most interesting and exclusive luxury outlets.


Use Hotels to Market Luxury Goods


You can be fairly certain these luxury shoppers, perhaps the wives or children of businessmen, will be staying in the best hotels in the area. Why not ensure they find a guide to the city’s best luxury stores waiting for them in their hotel rooms? A glossy magazine with appealing photographs, not only of the luxury items in offer, but also of the stores which sell them and, perhaps, a few photographs of friendly looking staff accompanied by interesting texts and instructions on how to find the stores mentioned.


Such magazine style brochures would not need to be updated too often, though seasonal versions may be a good idea as shoppers search for different items at different times of the year.


Yes, you will need to cooperate with other luxury dealers locally to create such a publication but the exercise will work out as a win-win arrangement for all concerned. You will also raise awareness of your business’ existence and happy luxury shoppers who will be able to find what they want more easily will tell their friends about the shops they loved and about the interesting and original goods they bought. This will attract more people to your stores and generate sales.


Taking this a step further, the local luxury guide could also mention other outlets your business operates in other well-known luxury destinations or even in other areas of the same country. Business people may well visit more than one destination in the same country on the same trip and if they cannot make it to your New York store, they may be able to pay a visit to your San Francisco branch


Even hotels will benefit as word spreads about their useful and informative luxury shopping city guides. These guides could also mention local luxury restaurants and other entertainment in the area. Visitors may even choose one hotel over another simply because it offers such a guide and the publication would add value to the hotel’s offering an attract more guests.


A luxury shopping guide to your city should be offered in a selection of languages as well as the national language of your own nation so that it can appeal to as many potential luxury shoppers as possible.

Is your luxury business involved in the publication of such a guide? If not, then perhaps you might like to consider it.


How many times have interesting luxury stores been overlooked simply because nobody knew they were there? More often then not, one suspects.


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Crackdown on Fake Italian Luxury Goods in China


Fake Italian Luxury Goods in ChinaIn the luxury business, counterfeiting remains a problem but steps are being taken to stamp it out. This is just as well, as this illicit activity threatens the reputation of Italian luxury brands and of the dealers who stock them. I was very pleased to hear that solid progress is being made on the Chinese front.


The Italian Trade Agency (ITA) is working to halt the counterfeiting of Italian goods in China and to draw attention to 30 or so fake Italian brands. An anti-counterfeiting desk has been set up in Beijing by Italy’s ITA to fight forgery.


This is good news for Italian businesses and, of course, for customers who stand to benefit from being certain that if something says ‘Made in Italy’ on the label, it really has been ‘Made in Italy’.


China, a major export destination for Italian luxury products, is now working openly with Italy to ensure that Italian goods sold in China are genuinely made in Italy.


While there is still a long way to go, the China-Italy cooperation is very positive news. As I know only too well, counterfeiting within the luxury industry is a major problem and I welcome this news wholeheartedly, as I am sure will businesses and, of course, customers.


Be aware, though, that counterfeiting remains a major problem. Luxury retail businesses need to pay very close attention to exactly what they are selling.


While the label may carry the name of a globally known Italian fashion brand, the item may not have been made in Italy by the company mentioned on the label. Some of these fakes are extremely hard to spot. Only those with a trained eye and years of experience can tell the fakes apart from the genuine articles. As you may know, my company offers an authenticity checking service and we can ensure that your luxury business will receive the genuine article. Unfortunately, certain companies in Italy will attempt to pass counterfeit goods off as the real thing. If you don’t take the right steps, it is all to easy to end up with a shipment of counterfeit goods.


If you want to keep up with luxury industry news and issues, such as counterfeiting, subscribe to my newsletter.

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Sell Bespoke Italian Luxury Online


Bespoke luxury is as popular as ever even if at times, bespoke may mean little more than being able to choose the colour of the buttons put on a coat. Real made to measure luxury services exist too, of course, and the internet can help.


Through smart use of the internet, your luxury business in Beijing can create bespoke Italian luxury goods such as clothing and accessories for customers who demand complete personalisation and are more than happy to pay for the privilege.


Setting up such a service requires a little thought but with the help of the internet, it is possible. Indeed, some of Italy’s top luxury brands are already offering such services. Are you? If not, and your luxury business caters to high-end luxury customers, you should consider it.



Sell Bespoke Italian Luxury Online


At a local level, you will need to find a tailor to take customers’ measurements, after, that is, they have chosen what it is it they want, be it a pair of trousers, a jacket, skirt, or whatever. Once measurements have been taken, they can be transmitted to a manufacturer in Italy who will then produce the garments requested.


The finished article is then sent back to your store and the customer can take delivery. While such a service may work very well, to ensure customers are one hundred percent content with their new made to measure clothes, consider a final fitting and alteration session at a local level. This will ensure your customer gets what he or she wants and will raise levels of satisfaction. The finished items will be as near to perfect as they can possibly be.


Obviously, your business will require the services of an expert tailor or dressmaker at a local level to ensure that the made to measure service works as well as it possibly can. After all, customers may be paying upwards of $3,000 for their made to measure clothes, so they will expect an exceptionally high level of service.


What you may not know is that as well as major Italian luxury brands, smaller luxury makers exist. These often tiny businesses may be renown for the quality of their bespoke work within Italy but be virtually unknown beyond the nation’s borders. How can you find such businesses? Your primary source is insider information. In fact, my company can help you find Italian luxury makers who can create fabulous garments from the finest quality materials for your most demanding customers.


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Riguardo all’Autore

Salvo Spagna

The first Italian Luxury Advisor, offers consulting and intermediary services, plus authenticity and anti-counterfeiting audits for the purchase and sale of luxury and high quality Made in Italy goods, including Fashion, Food and Furniture

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