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Claudio Marenco (Coop Consorzio Nord Ovest) comments

Italy: Beyond the crisis - how consumption models and sales strategies change

"Consumption is an important part of well-being as well as economic growth. The consistency and quality of food consumption have in fact always been essential factors for human progress as well as standard-of-living indicators. The differences in what Italian families buy depending on income are also influenced by social, cultural and psychological variables, which in turn determine the so-called 'behavioural economy', which is usually totally different from what the rational choices would be."

These are the considerations Clausio Marenco, promo-advertising and loyalty manager of Coop Consorzio Nord Ovest, shares with FreshPlaza readers. "If the crisis changed the behaviour of Italian consumers, both as regards to what they put in their trolley and where they go to buy food, we cannot avoid considering a change in sales strategies and introducing a new consumption model. We are witnessing a revolution in the purchase approach, which is almost cut off from the traditional logic we have followed up to now."

Claudio Marenco.

The importance of the e-commerce phenomenon
To the new generations, the web is the new purchasing non-place, but youngsters are not the only ones. The Ecommerce Report of the European Digital Behaviour Study 2013 confirmed this with research on the habits of Italian and European users, according to which Italy ranked fourth for the percentage of people between 26/30 and 31/40 using Internet to shop (34%), especially for hi-tech and food&beverage. England ranked first, as 9 out of 10 users buy online from the main national retailers, followed by Germany and Spain.

Despite being quite distant from the numbers seen in Northern Europe, the Italian data expresses a real potential, like the Coop CCNO executive says: "The use of modern technologies shows an interesting disequilibrium in the consumption world: just think about users who connect to confront the prices of the different leaflets in order to save some money only to then connect to iTunes to pay for music with a compulsive behaviour. This reveals how the perception of the cost and opportunity relations is totally different from the past, despite the crisis."

And therefore it is more about tactics than publicity stunts: "It is not the technique that has to change, but rather the strategy. The challenge is to rethink a model to support consumption policies and marketing leverage. After setting aside the test on online food purchases, as it cost a lot to manage, in October we will launch "Coop online", a new e-commerce project (which in the beginning will include cooperatives from the North West and the North East) also connected to the no-food inventory, which will be mainly made up of exclusive products. The delivery will be the real innovative element, as it will be either at home or to the closest store."

The proximity concept
And so we are back to the proximity theme, as what is nearby is considered practical and increases the sense of community. "I think that, in the next twenty years, we will witness a progressive vertical integration between production and consumption, where a basic lifestyle linked to essential services will be connected to proximity. A sort of "geo-localisation" - which evokes our territorial collective brand "ORTOQUI" - which will interact with digital familiarity and new cultural trends. I believe this is what will happen and there is no going back. We will see if the cooperatives will take advantage of this."

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