GROWING OPPORTUNITIES FOR MADE IN ITALY IN SOUTH-EAST ASIA10/11/2022
Of all the places in the world where made-in-Italy products are exported, South-East Asia is undoubtedly the most interesting one at the moment. South-East Asian nations, which have undergone a remarkable industrial and economic development in recent years, are increasingly attractive markets for Italian companies. Although trading relations have significantly expanded in the past twenty years, there is still room for further expansion.
These countries are grouped into the ASEAN, the Association of South-East Asian Nations. Established in 1967 by the Founding Fathers (Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand), it now counts ten members (Brunei Darussalam joined in 1984, followed by Viet Nam in 1995, Lao PDR and Myanmar in 1997 and Cambodia in 1999). A remarkable example of integration, notwithstanding the actual differences in history, politics, society, religion, language and technology advancement. Singapore, considered as the hub of this area both for its high level of development and for its financial and fiscal characteristics, is regarded as the launchpad for all the Italian companies that wish to expand in the South-East Asian market.
Besides being a dynamic macro-area, the advantage of trading in the ASEAN market is represented by a cohesive economy and shared regulations that streamline relations and facilitate development. The combination of economic growth and the increasing interest towards a luxurious lifestyle, makes these countries interesting also for those Italian companies which operate in the food and beverage industry. Opportunities, in this case, go hand in hand with significant obstacles that need to be taken into account before deploying any marketing strategy. Leaving out for a moment the technicalities regarding customs and local bureaucracy, differences in taste and religious restrictions call for an appropriate and respectful approach in order to maximize the chances for success.
Pork-based cold meats (forbidden by Islam), fresh cheese and red wine (difficult to digest for East-Asian citizens) may be an unwise choice, whereas everything related to the Mediterranean Diet, which is becoming more and more popular also in these countries, could set the companies to a good start. The same could be said about Italian foods that bear an internationally recognized name: so yes to pasta, pizza, gelato and tiramisu, just to name a few. They are still healthy, of course, but somewhat fashionable as well.