Identifies common practices to be aware of when selling in this market, e.g., whether all sales material need to be in the local language.
Many U.S. firms maintain their own sales organizations in Italy. Others sell through specialized importers or appoint sales agents who often are manufacturers’ brokers. A large, well-established Italian firm with an efficient nationwide sales organization is likely to insist on an exclusive arrangement. About 2,500 U.S. firms are represented in the Italian market through agents, branches, subsidiaries, or licenses. Of these, about half have a substantial direct capital investment in the form of stock as a sole owner or partner in an enterprise. Generally, the sales territory includes all of Italy. In other cases, the territory also covers all or part of the EU, depending on the type of product and degree of technical support needed. Italian distributors tend to have excellent contacts within eastern Europe and the Mediterranean basin
Trade Promotion and Advertising
Trade promotion in Italy
The primary trade show organizers in Italy are Fiera Milano, Bologna Fiere, Verona Fiere, Italian Exhibition Group, and Fiere di Parma.
Through the Single Company Promotion service, the U.S. Commercial Service can work with U.S. exporting companies to organize promotional events to reach their preferred audiences and decision-makers in Italy. For additional information, contact Commercial Service Italy at email@example.com.
Primary national media outlets:
- La 7
- Sky Italia (pay)
- Mediaset Premium (pay)
- Corriere della Sera
- Sole 24 Ore (business and financial newspaper)
- La Repubblica
- La Stampa
- ANSA (wire service)
- Rtl 102.5
- Radio 105
- Radio Italia
- Radio Rai 1
- Radio 2
Key industry publications
- Linea Intima
- Intimo Piu’ Mare
- Building Products
- Edilizia e territorio
- Construction Machinery
- Quarry and Construction
- Top Trade Informatica
- Nuova Energia
- DDN Design Diffusion News
- VO+ Jewels & Luxury Magazine
- L’Industria Meccanica
Retail in Italy
- Largo Consumo
- Sporting goods
- Sport Industry
- Guida Viaggi
- L’agenzia di Viaggi
- TTG Italia
Italian importers generally prefer price quotes on a CIF or CIP basis, since they are usually familiar with the Italian customs charges and value-added taxes levied on the product at the time of importation, but may not be familiar with U.S. costs for trucking, ocean, or air freight. Large Italian firms and department stores, however, may prefer to buy on other terms when they arrange for the shipping and insuring the goods. Quotes and invoicing are usually in terms of the currency of the selling country.
Sales made on cash terms call for payment before delivery, on delivery, or shortly thereafter, typically within 10 days from the date of delivery. A 2%–5% discount is given for payment of the full amount of the transaction at the end of the specified period from one to four months from the date of the invoice. The length of the period depends on the commodity involved, the credit standing of the buyer, and the marketing and sales objective of the seller. A period of up to two years is often allowed for payment of capital goods, store equipment, trucks, and similar heavy equipment.
The Italian buyer may request a quote or shipment of goods under other INCOTERMS (International Commercial Terms), the set of international rules defining the important commercial terms and practices. By referencing INCOTERMS in contracts or invoices, both buyer and seller will have a uniform understanding of their responsibilities in an agreement.
Just as sales offer terms should be clear and detailed, shipment terms should conform to contract specifications and should be consistent with any samples that were sent to the Italian importer. Agreed delivery schedules should be met, as prompt delivery may be a decisive consideration of the importer in placing additional orders. When shipping on letters of credit, all terms specified in the letter of credit must be strictly observed. If all the terms are not followed, the bank may not honor the letter of credit.
The Italian importer may examine the merchandise for inventory purposes before customs clearance. Goods cannot clear customs without shipping documents and payment of any required customs duty, applicable value-added taxes, and excise taxes. The importer must undertake these formalities at the time of clearing customs. The importer should present import licenses, if required, within the period for which they were issued.
General EU Legislation
Please refer to our European Union Country Commercial Guide article on selling factors and techniques.
Sales Service/Customer Support
Business customers demand a high level of support and most wholesalers or distributors offer excellent customer service. Timely service and maintenance capacities are important selling factors. U.S. companies should ensure that their prospective partners have the capacity and the intent to provide service and replacement part warehousing capacities.
Local Professional Services
The following is a sample of service providers in Italy and the European Union. Please note that their inclusion in this guide is not an endorsement of their services.
Local service providers focusing on EU law, consulting, and business development can be viewed on the website maintained by the Commercial Service at the U.S. Mission to the European Union.
Italian market research firms: ACNielsen Italia; Cerved Group S.p.A; Inter@ctive Market Research; and MandT Marketing & Trade S.r.l.
Principal Business Associations
- American Chamber of Commerce in Italy, based in Milan
- Confindustria - the Confederation of Italian Industry is a principal trade association acting as an umbrella organization for many industry trade associations
- AIAD (Associazione Industrie per l’Aerospazio, i Sistemi e la Difesa) - Association of Aerospace and Defense Industries
- ABI (Associazione Bancaria Italiana) - Italian Banking Association
- ANFIA (Associazione Nazionale fra Industrie Automobilistiche) - National Automotive Industry Association
- ANFIA (Associazione Nazionale fra le Imprese Assicuratrici) - National Association of Insurance Companies
- ASSOFRANCHISING - Italian Franchising Association
- CONFAPI (Confederazione Italiana della Piccola e Media Industria) - Italian Confederation of Small and Medium-Sized Industries
- FARMINDUSTRIA (Associazione Nazionale dell’Industria Farmaceutica) - National Association of Pharmaceutical Industries.
- FEDERCHIMICA (Federazione Nazionale dell’Industria Chimica) - Federation of Chemical Industries.
- UNIONCAMERE (Unione Italiana delle Camere di Commercio Industria Agricoltura e Artigianato) - Italian Union of the Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Handicraft and Agriculture. Umbrella organization responsible for all chambers of commerce in Italy. Italian chambers of commerce are quasi-public entities, and they maintain and manage the official registry of corporations in Italy.
For other industry-specific business associations, please visit the “Leading Sectors” section of this Country Commercial Guide.