Italy flag Italy: Buying and Selling

Advertising and marketing in Italy

Marketing opportunities

Consumer Profile
Italy has a population of 58.98 million, of which 48.7% are men and 51.3% are women (Istat, 2022). In terms of age structure, 12.7% of the population is between 0 and 14 years old, 63.5% between 15 and 64 and 23.8% are 65 or older; with the median age being 46.2 years (the highest European level). The Italian population is ageing and the birth rate has been worsening in recent years (7 out of 1,000 inhabitants in 2021, from 7.8 in 2016 and 9.6 ten years ago). The number of households is increasing but their size is decreasing: in 2021 around one-third of households are made up of one person (33.2%), 27.7% are made of 2 persons, 18.9% of three, 15.2% of four and only 5.1% of five or more people (Istat). Around 28.3% of the population lives in rural areas, while 71.7% are urban dwellers; with the regions of Lombardia, Lazio and Campania being the most numerous (Data Reportal, 2022).
The number of people attending university has been decreasing in recent years (-10.6% in 2017 compared to 2009, latest data available by Istat). Furthermore, according to data by Eurostat, in 2020 only 20.1% of the Italian population between 25 and 64 years old has attained tertiary education (the second-lower level in Europe, after Romania). In Italy, 63% of adults aged 25-64 have completed upper secondary education (OECD).
The latest data by Istat concerning the first quarter of 2022 show that out of a total of 22.95 million working people, nearly 4.97 million are independent workers, while 17.98 million are employees (of which 14.86 million have permanent contracts and 3.12 million have limited-term contracts). Italy is also the country in Europe with one of the highest number of freelance workers (21,64% of total employment in 2022, Istat).
Purchasing Power
In Italy, GDP per capita stood at USD 45,936 in 2021 (World Bank). According to data by Istat, in 2020 GDP per capita (at current prices) was 34,135.9 euros in the North-west area, 32,962.3 euros in the North-east and 30,372.2 euros in the Centre, while in the South and Islands area per capita GDP - at 18,501.2 euros - was 45% lower than in the Centre-North area, showing the territorial inequalities of the country. The dynamism in terms of employment and wages in the northern regions contributed to the territorial gap. The average gross household disposable income grew by 2,6% in 2021 compared to 2020, and amounted to USD 33,865 per capita (OECD). In Italy there is a considerable gap between the richest and poorest, with the top 20% of the population earning close to six times as much as the bottom 20%. According to data by the World Bank, the GINI index for Italy stands at 35.2 (100 representing the highest level of inequality, 0 the lowest). According to the latest data available by Istat, in 2021 a little more than 1.9 million households (7.5% of the total from 7.7% in 2020) and about 5.6 million individuals (9.4% as last year) were in absolute poverty. In 2021, households consumption expenditure growth at 1.4% (Istat). The OECD estimates Italy’s purchasing power parity at EUR 0.65 per USD in 2021 (compared to EUR 0.66 in 2020).
Seniors have the highest median standard of living, while young people have the lowest median standard of living. Households whose main income earner is self-employed have the highest net income (EUR 42,340), followed by employee (EUR 37,158), and retired (EUR 30,344) (Istat, latest data available). Figures from Eurostat show that on average in Italy women earn 5.5% less than men (better than the EU average, where the gender pay gap is of 14.4% according to the latest data by Eurostat).
Consumer Behaviour
Italy’s population has a high and diversified level of mass consumption (defined as the very high average level of consumption whereby most of the people consume a large amount of goods and services other than satisfaction of basic needs). However, since the financial crisis and the Covid-19 pandemic, the majority of Italian consumers have re-organized their shopping habits in order to meet economic constraints. According to the latest data by Istat, consumer confidence has been decreasing in the first half of 2022, mainly due to the uncertain economic situation, the war in Ukraine and rising inflation (Istat, June 2022). Italian consumers are demanding of quality products, they will therefore be more concerned about the quality of goods and of customer service than about promotions. When given the choice, Italians prefer products ‘made in Italy’, however foreign products are also in vogue (especially for footwear and streetwear). Novelty is welcomed, especially in the fashion sector. Most consumers purchase from mass retailers and large companies, especially in bigger cities. The ageing population (Italy is projected to have a median age of almost 50 years by 2030) drives an increasing demand for specialist products and services.

Italians are increasingly attracted by online sales, e-commerce and m-commerce (this practice also applies to the purchase of food products, through the development of drive and home delivery services in major cities). According to Netcomm, the Italian Electronic Commerce Consortium, 33.3 million Italians have bought a good or service online in the last three months and have made an average of 1.3 purchases per month in the first quarter of 2022. The number of online purchases is growing steadily and has exceeded 100 millions of transactions per quarter in 2020. Most of the consumers are multichannel, meaning they buy both from normal shops and online, while around a third use the internet only to gather information about products that they then buy in standard channels. More than half of e-shoppers makes at least one online purchase every month.

Italians have historically been considered brand loyal, however this trend has been changing in recent years, with consumers being more interested in trying new products/brands (43% according to a survey by Nielsen, while 45% declare to be open to change their favourite outlet in case of interesting promotions from new outlets).
Italian consumers often rely on the information provided on the internet and on social networks, especially those coming from other consumers (comments, reviews, etc.). Italy is the EU country with the highest share of influencers per population (2.22%). In a recent study conducted by Buzzoole (2021), 85% of consumers
interviewed claim to take the opinions of influencers into consideration when buying a product (European Parliament). Concerning big data, Italian consumers do not have a clear perception of which data are collected, stored and transferred and for which use.
A growing preference for sustainable, locally-produced products and organic foods has been recorded in recent years. In fact, 85% of consumers thinks that sustainable products have a better quality and are more innovative. In a study conducted by Bord Bia (H1 2021), 90% of Italian consumers claimed to have made an effort to buy products with higher welfare standards in the last 12 months, and more than half said sustainability is very important when choosing food and drink.
Use of collaborative platforms such as Airbnb, Uber, Blablacar, car sharing services is increasing, especially among young people.
Consumers Associations
List on the website of the Ministry for Economic Development
The Italian Association of Consumers and Users (ACU)
The Italian Association for the Defence and Rights of the Consumer (ADOC)
The National Union of Consumers (UNC)
Main Advertising Agencies
Grey Advertising Italy

Return to top

Any Comment About This Content? Report It to Us.


© eexpand, All Rights Reserved.
Latest Update: July 2024