Made in Italy as a competitive advantage. The Vicenzi case

Cristian Modolo
Marketing & Communication Director @Vicenzi Spa

Made in Italy can prove to be a competitive advantage. Although it can be considered like a real brand now - the third best known worldwide - Italy does not know how to properly exploit this semantic container of strategic assets.

As Prof. Marco Bettiol explained during the "Made in Italy 2020" event held by Young Digitals, made in Italy companies are pragmatic and built on excellent products, but they are often beaten on the communication front by other countries. It is no coincidence that many Italian companies are owned by French, and many products made by American brands are chosen over the Italian ones, despite their excellent quality, due to more attractive adv campaigns. 

Therefore, the real challenge for Made in Italy in 2020 will be to bring communication to a global level, exploiting the power of digital as well. 

In this regard, it is worth telling the story of Matilde Vicenzi, a company that for three generations has carried forward the values of Italian agri-food excellence throughout the world. Of its 125-million-euro revenue, 35% comes from foreign markets. But what is the secret to being appreciated by international buyers? 


The roadmap, in pills


  • The large, international family group was founded in 1905 in S. Giovanni Lupatoto (Verona) by the intuition of Matilde Vicenzi, who started out with a small pastry workshop, later turning to industrialization with the purchase of the first automated line. In the consumers’ mind, dry pastries such as sfogliatine, savoiardi, amaretti, etc. have always been synonymous with Vicenzi. 
  • In 2005, the modern history of reconfiguring the entire product portfolio began: the group owns three main brands (Matilde Vicenzi, Grisbì, Mr. Day), each with their own mission and vision
  • In 2016, Vicenzi set up a more centralized approach in presenting its products abroad. The first step was to rethink the personality of the brand: it wanted the relationship with its consumers to be less vertical. Matilde, made protagonist of the logo (she had only made cameo appearances before), is depicted as a woman who knows her business, and as a friend to trust: in this way, a more emotional relationship comes into play.

The second step was optimizing resources: the three brands of Vicenzi Group abroad are one, Matilde Vicenzi. While in Italy brands like Grisbì are antonomastic (it's a category-product), at an international level the entire portfolio of products is known as Matilde Vicenzi. This is because managing the communication of one campaign is simpler, cheaper and has a greater impact than three campaigns.  

In foreign markets, Vicenzi focuses on 5 areas: America (with a branch in Miami), China, France, Germany, United Arab Emirates. The third step was studying the specific characteristics of each country, adapting communication formats accordingly. 

As a matter of fact, attitudes can drastically differ depending on the culture, and great attention is required when designing communication. For example, in Islamic markets Matilde must be veiled. In China, there was the issue of the color of the packages: in eastern markets white stands for mourning. Not to mention the difficulties in having a woman as a brand ambassador in countries where business still has a patriarchal approach

The last step was a digital rethink: it may seem trivial, but digital proved to be a very valuable support in bringing Matilde Vicenzi closer to the youngest target, rejuvenating the perception of the brand. More importantly, it enables a direct dialogue with the consumer, bringing insights to improve both the products and the communication.