Security remains a primary area of focus for the Italian Government. In Italy and across Europe major
challenges include enhancing homeland security and combating illegal immigration and crime.
Opportunities may be found in the aviation, maritime, supply chain and rail security areas as a result of
security measures mandated by regulatory bodies. Suppliers with new, highly technological and
sophisticated solutions will have a competitive edge.
U.S. companies that do not wish to operate with a direct presence should have an agent or distributor.
While the Italian market is still characterized by small, often family-run businesses, distribution channels
are transforming from traditional regional distributors to a mixed structure with establishment of company
branch offices that cover most of Italy, while keeping regional distributors for some areas. Most
manufacturers make use of a well-rooted distribution network that covers all related services as
installation, routine maintenance and after sales support. Distribution practices and industrial
competence play a fundamental and very delicate role in the safety and security sector. Customer care
and having the appropriate skills required to install products are very important requirements for a
representative, while competitive prices, reliability, good performance and support are equally necessary
on behalf of suppliers.
Imports are carried out by specialized importers/distributors, local subsidiaries of foreign manufacturers,
or domestic manufacturers with a distribution network seeking compatible products to broaden their lines.
It is important that agents or sales representatives have good working relations with technical personnel
within the public and industrial sectors. Agent and distributor commissions normally are in the range of 5-
Marketing of U.S. security products can be successful if there is a high technological content. Important
technical aspects include interoperability and integrated, multifunctional solutions. Companies with new,
innovative and sophisticated products are able to rapidly gain a large share of the market, but it is
important to remain competitive in other ways; market shares can also be lost quickly due to strong
competition that characterizes this industry sector. This intense competition also causes profit margins to
fluctuate widely. Experience, quality, performance, dependability, flexibility, ease of use, customization of
application software and price are also determining factors for successful marketing. The presence of a
nationwide service organization that can guarantee installation and maintenance will prove a definite
advantage, especially because customers generally will require training, support and maintenance. Local
manufacturers are often associated with installation, security, consulting and service firms.
In terms of marketing and distribution strategies, for the public administration it is important to
demonstrate the advantages of security solutions through practical presentations (including product
demonstration, slides, etc.) highlighting applications running efficiently within the public administration in
other countries. To bid for government contracts, foreign firms must either be legally established or have
an authorized representative in Italy prior to bidding. In country representation is important to provide
installation, training and maintenance services, especially for complex equipment.
Education and training of end users is important. For this reason, it would be wise for U.S. companies to
translate manuals, displays, brochures and other materials into Italian.
Financing and trade practices adhere to normal Italian business standards. The majority of financial
transactions are handled through private agreements and banking institutions. Italian firms indicate that
some U.S. suppliers are too rigid in their payment terms and have thus lost business to other suppliers.
Financing is considered as much a competitive factor as the product itself, the delivery date, or after-sales
service. While some U.S. manufacturers request payment upon receipt of the goods, more successful
sellers offer terms allowing settlement of the account from 60 to 120 days following the invoice date,
which is the most common practice in Italy. More information regarding the business climate can be
found in the Country Commercial Guide: http://www.buyusainfo.net/docs/x_2856311.pdf.
In terms of public procurement, the Italian government does not typically purchase goods and services
abroad unless they cannot be procured locally through domestic sources, which would include
subsidiaries, branches and agents of U.S. companies. In order to be considered as a source for Italian
government purchases, it is recommended that the U.S. firm be represented by an agent/distributor rather
than try to deal directly with Italian government agencies. Invitations to bid on tenders are published in
the official European Gazette and in the official Italian Gazette. The U.S. Commercial Service at the U.S.
Mission to the European Union has developed a database of all European public procurement tenders
that are open to U.S.-based firms by virtue of the Government Procurement Agreement
offers access to EU public procurement announcements free of charge.
CURRENT MARKET TRENDS
The safety and security equipment market was valued at approximately USD 4.6 million in 2011. Italy
has an established domestic safety and security industry with a reputation for high quality products.
Italian production is well distributed across the various security equipment product categories. The
industry is comprised of a sizable number of small and mid-sized locally based firms. The main U.S.
players including Honeywell, GE Security, UTC Fire and Security, and DuPont, for example, are present
in the market.
The safety market is forecast to remain stable in 2012. Technologies in this segment are mature, and
economic uncertainty will continue to decelerate investments in R&D that already saw significant
contraction (3.8 percent) in 2011. These factors, coupled with potential developments in the standards
area that should impact future development of new materials and equipment, should present
opportunities for advanced U.S. technologies. In particular, opportunities exist in the CBRN area for new
materials and technologies.
In 2011, the security and building automation market saw an overall increase of 4.9 percent. The antiintrusion
equipment segment saw an increase of 6.6 percent, while the CCTV component increased by
10.4 percent, due in great part to the move away from analog toward digital solutions. Solutions that
improve energy efficiency and promote sustainable development will find opportunities in the market.
Within the anti-intrusion sector, access control (AC) remains an important and highly competitive area
with more than 1000 manufacturers, suppliers, and installers. The Italian AC market is the fourth largest
in Europe after France and the U.K. and represents a vital part of the security industry, comprising 40
percent of the entire market. With the growing threat from illegal immigration and rising crime levels,
access control is being accepted as a crucial security measure.
The industry is migrating toward IP and integrated solutions. The trend is to move away from proprietary
technology toward open systems that allow the integration of multiple applications. Other drivers include
the growth of time and attendance applications, the demand for smart card and optical card systems, the
need to reduce fraud and gained acceptance of biometric systems. Training for integrators and installers
is essential in order to effectively meet end user needs.
End users are varied and include private and public organizations, banks, and private citizens. While
public spending will remain weak in the near term, continued opportunities exist among large organizations, banks and private citizens. Approximately 5 million homes lack security systems. A sense
of vulnerability and insecurity, particularly among the female population, is increasing.