Picture of stability paints image of Italian daily life
The brands and categories represented in the Top 30 are little changed from the inaugural Italian ranking launched a year ago. They paint a vivid picture not just of the strengths of the national economy, but also of Italian daily life.
After luxury, food and dairy is the greatest contributor of value to the 2019 ranking. Food is at the heart of so many Italian traditions, and Italian cuisine is one of the country’s strongest exports. Around the world, Italy doesn’t just represent great-tasting food, it represents the joy of sharing a meal, family togetherness, tradition and refinement.
The presence of Kinder and Nutella in the Top 10 – alongside the likes of Gucci, Ferrari and Prada – not only reflect Italian daily life and the importance of food to Italian culture. They also show the effectiveness of Italian entrepreneurs who have turned what are essentially single-product brands, little changed over decades, into global category giants. In the case of Nutella, it is a category entirely to itself.
Telecommunications providers are the next-biggest category in this year’s ranking; telecoms is an increasingly competitive sector in Italy, and it’s here where we see the only new brand to enter the Italian ranking this year, Fastweb.
The energy sector, powered by just two brands – Enel and A2A – is another big source of value, accounting for 9 percent of the Top 30’s value. Both brands increased their value in the past 12 months, Enel by 8 percent and A2A by 10 percent.
Cars, hugely important to the Italian economy, are represented by two brands that each represent Italy to the world, although in different ways. Ferrari, which takes fifth position in the Top 30, stands for boldness, passion, exclusivity, energy and power. Fiat, meanwhile (in 20th place) is the more approachable, friendly face of the Italian motor industry.
Supermarket chain Esselunga’s absence from the Top 30 ranking this year means Italy is now the only BrandZ market in which there’s not a single retail brand. Esselunga was in 30th place in the 2018 ranking, and has been knocked out by the entry this year of Fastweb, which is in 27th place.
It doesn’t necessarily mean there are no strong retail brands in Italy – brand value is a combination of financial strength and the “power in the mind” that’s generated by a brand’s products, experience and communications. This means that a small retail brand, however brilliant it might be, will not have the financial might to enter the ranking.
However, retail is a lively and highly competitive sector with some sizable players, and this would usually lead to intense brand-building activity and a powerful affinity between shoppers and their favorite stores.
Got any change?
The BrandZ data provides a stark warning for Italian banking brands, which this year contribute 5 percent of the ranking’s value – but 11 percent less in dollar terms than just one year ago.
All three bank brands in the Top 30 have suffered a drop in brand value this year, and our data shows that banks in Italy more broadly underperform against other categories on a range of factors that contribute to health and growth. Innovation and communication are two key contributors to the love that consumers often feel for brands, and banks score extremely poorly on both of these measures.
And, when it comes to brand experience, Italian banks rank bottom out of 30 product and service categories – just behind insurance and tobacco.
Banking brands in other countries also tend to perform poorly on many of these measures when compared to other categories; it seems to be an industry problem rather than a uniquely Italian one. Yet Italian banks compare badly, even to other poor performers, with brand health scores lower than banks in other European markets, as well as those in India, Australia and the US.
The financial services sector is ripe for change; in many markets, newcomers from outside the category are shaking things up with innovative alternatives to traditional products and services. If Italian banks want to stay relevant – and not be sidelined by new financial technology players waiting to lure away their customers - they need to act now.
Sound of Success
There are some product categories that seem inherently exciting – perhaps technology, cars and fashion. But over a decade of BrandZ experience shows that the category in which a brand operates is no barrier to brand-building excellence. Think of a certain Swedish flat-pack furniture brand, much loved by the world’s consumers. Pampers is another star performer in a perhaps-unlikely category.
Italian brand Amplifon operates in a category not covered by BrandZ research, hearing care retail, and one that isn’t by its nature an exciting one. But it demonstrates how a focus on purpose, customer experience and communications can lead to satisfaction and business success.
Recent efforts include extending the product portfolio with brand-name hearing aids, the launching of an app to support setting-up and correct usage of products, and the OneCRM program, to support customized CRM campaigns in multiple markets.
Amplifon has also launched an innovative “Customer Experience Transformation Program”, designed to improve the customer experience – and inform customer-centric innovation – based on client feedback.
And it advertises in a way that draws on emotion and experience – the effects of its services, rather than the technical specifications. A recent campaign asks: “What’s the first thing you have heard again, with Amplifon?”
Amplifon now has a network of over 10,000 points of sale in 21 countries on five continents. In December 2018, Amplifon entered the FTSE MIB, the main benchmarking index of the Italian stock exchange.