Consumer appliances in Italy has been very vulnerable to the economic situation, with retail volume and value sales declining during the height of the economic crisis, in 2008-2009. While demand recovered slightly in 2010 due to government incentives to purchase high energy-efficient major appliances, this programme was no longer effective in 2011, which resulted in another year of declining sales. During the first semester of 2011, major appliances registered poorer growth performances than small appliances, which were not especially influenced by the recession. The economic situation worsened in the second semester of 2011. According to the Italian Statistical Authority and Findomestic Bank, the Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) and consumer spending forecast, especially for major appliances, dipped in 2011. This was due to the economic situation and uncertainty over employment, which hurt the performance of consumer appliances.
Energy efficiency becomes a popular theme
With growing concerns about energy consumption in general, there has been a stronger push from the government and manufacturers for energy-efficient consumer appliances. In addition, consumers are responding positively to innovations from manufacturers aimed at increasing energy efficiency due to perceived savings on electricity bills. Major appliances, in particular refrigeration, home laundry appliances and dishwashers have been at the forefront of energy-efficient features in 2011. In the forecast period, the demand for Class A devices is expected to grow, while manufacturers will also shift towards aspects such as lower CO2 emission and recycling.
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Published: May 2012
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Premium brands feature strongly in consumer appliances
The competitive landscape is quite fragmented, but premium brands continue to lead in every category, even during difficult economic times. Italian consumers are choosing to stay at home more because of the weak economy. However, the tough economic climate has not seen Italian consumers renounce the quality and small pleasure offered by major and small appliances. Italian consumers prefer known high-end brands as they are associated with quality and the longest life cycles, especially major appliances which are perceived as an economic investment. Thanks to the continued perception of trustworthiness of premium brands, established Italian companies continue to lead retail volume shares. Indesit Co SpA is the clear leader in major appliances, while small appliances is led by Groupe SEB Italia SpA and De’Longhi SpA.
Slight recovery on the horizon
After several years of decline in the review period, the industry is expected to record steady growth in retail volume sales terms over the forecast period. However, the positive performance in retail volume sales will not be significant enough to raise growth to 2006 levels. Economic uncertainties persist, and people will remain cautious when purchasing consumer appliances. However, Italian consumers’ preference for high-quality products and their willingness to invest in premium products improve the short-to-medium prospects of the industry.
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