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Enterprise Ireland’s top tips for entering the Italian market

Italy is the third-largest economy in the Eurozone and the fifth largest market in Europe for Irish exports

If you are considering doing business in Italy, please be sure to explore our tips to enter the market below and also be sure to reach out to our team in Milan.

  • Expect a longer timeline for market penetration in this region than in other European markets. Building a relationship with a potential customer can take time, and it’s a lot about trust. Once you’ve gained it, the Italian customer is very loyal.
  • Being introduced by an Italian company or by an institution can facilitate initial contact.
  • Costs for shipping goods to Italy are quite high, which can affect the final price of goods and therefore their competitiveness.
  • Market research and competitor analysis are vital if you want to approach the Italian market. You may find out that the local competition is extremely strong.
  • The perception of Ireland and Irish people is generally very positive, so build on it.
  • Be aware that the level of bureaucracy you find in Italy can be difficult to understand and frustrating at times.
  • If you intend to hire local staff, be aware of the fact that labour law is extremely rigid in Italy, definitely more rigid than in most European countries.
  • Meeting in person is very important in Italy, contact by email or phone is not enough. If you have a distributor, make sure you visit him/her on a regular basis. Meetings can happen over lunch or dinner – the eating element is very important in Italian culture and involves more than a simple sandwich.
  • Dress code during meetings is important. The first impression is made also on the basis of what you wear.
  • Don’t assume that everybody speaks English in Italy. It is quite often not the case. Making the effort of saying a few words in Italian is always appreciated
  • Be aware that the business culture in Italy is much more formal than in Ireland: don’t call people by their first name at the first meetings. Titles and hierarchy are important but the formal approach can vary according to the sector.

If you are considering doing business in Italy be sure to reach out to our team and read our Going Global Guide for more information.


If you would like to know what to prepare ahead of your first MA call, click the graphic below

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