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AT THE "SHOES FROM ITALY” PREVIEW FOR SPRING/SUMMER 2010
An elite group from the Italian footwear industry arrives in Beijing for the presentation to operators in the Chinese sector of the latest in the spring/summer 2010 collection. The occasion is the new “Shoes from Italy 2009” Autonomous Exhibition, organised in Beijing for the 9 and 10 July 2009 by ICE (Italian Trade Commission) in cooperation with the trade association ANCI.
China is the world’s third largest market for luxury goods after the United States and Japan, with a value of about 6.5 thousand million dollars a year. As per capita income has increased and relations with foreign countries have grown, western lifestyles are being adopted, especially those of Italy, making China the number one destination for the Made in Italy footwear sector. Although it seems an unequal contest, Italian firms are not afraid of taking up the challenge on the ‘home territory' of the world’s biggest footwear producer.
Made in Italy’s strongest point is its strategic market positioning: Italian footwear is in a particularly high sector of the market (average selling price increased again in 2008) where they are more competitive than their global competitors. Quality, although an essential pre-condition, will not get you very far on its own. To fully reach the market potential in China, one of your priorities should be to pay constant attention to distribution mechanisms, as well as to features of demand, changes in taste and trends.
Generally speaking, foreign operators in China work by creating joint ventures with local and foreign producers in order to exploit established distribution channels. Alternatively, these firms find a Chinese distributor (or one from Hong Kong or Taiwan) and assign the task of moving the imported products along their own sales networks. Lastly, it is not unusual to make use of local agents, who look after business relations, especially with department stores. In perspective, the key role of the mass distribution channel in establishing footwear products to an ever greater extent in China makes the role of local agents absolutely crucial.
ANCI, working together with ICE, is therefore setting up enterprises like “Shoes From Italy” in order to provide potentially interested Italian firms with a view of the actual qualities and potential of Made in Italy. It also aims to give continuity to our presence and promotional activities by establishing a serious relationship with Chinese economic operators, particularly the above mentioned local agents. That’s not all. To support Italian operators in China, ANCI has recently set up a press room in Beijing in Tower 1 of the China World Trade Center, which is the de facto headquarters of Italian footwear in China.
At the same time, ANCI’s most recent data indicate that Italy exported more than 221 million pairs in 2008 (9.7% below the quantity for 2007), worth 6,877.4 million euro (more or less unchanged, due to the increase in average price of a little below 11%). The data covers both sales on foreign markets of products manufactured in Italy and purely marketing operations. The positive trend in exports to China continued last year, reaching a unit increase of 33.8% at 580 thousand pairs.