Today is a beautiful sunny day, the wind ruffles our hair and we begin to dream of being on the beach, with the sea in front of us and its bashful sound that relaxes us. Unfortunately, we realize the bitter truth and, in order not to fall into depression, we look out the window for a moment, almost in contemplation and go back to typing on the keyboard with a veil of melancholy.
The first months of the new year are already behind us and, in a normal situation, we would like to say that time passes quickly when we are having fun [ed: typical Italian saying]. Unfortunately, we know that this is not the case and, when there is no possibility to travel or go out, we focus on shopping, on our home and on our kitchen.
The writer, as a child, was used to go around all the "trusted" shops in the town with her grandmother who, according to the custom of the times, used to walk for kilometers to buy "that" piece of meat or "that" particular vegetable. Once, the large supermarkets were not common and, day after day, we were used to go to old groceries, historic family-run butchers or small and hidden greengrocers where, once inside, you could feel the taste of home, you were called with your own name and got attached to them.
Over time, small shops have given way to large supermarkets, anonymous and colder and, unfortunately, that dimension of trust, affection and warmth has also gradually been lost. Mr. Giorgio, the village butcher, has given way to young apprentices with their names written on their uniforms.
old times groceries
So what then? How did we manage to convince our grandmothers to buy the roast in the usual super market?
The answer to this age-old question will be given to us by Diego Toscani, CEO and Founder of Promotica, leader in the sector of loyalty programs and promotional activities which recently was listed. It happens that Diego is also a founding partner of Tablo which, in 2021, will develop loyalty programs in Asia among its projects.
Diego Toscani in his office
Hi Diego, it's a pleasure to interview you for our blog! Tell us something about your career and how Promotica was born?
As a child, I enjoyed collecting prize competitions stickers and collecting points. I was fascinated by the catalogs that allowed you to get rewards by purchasing products. I already had in mind during my studies that I would deal with marketing, what is good for people. This passion has grown over the years, including university years. I graduated in Economics in Brescia and I combined journalistic activity and a passion for good food and wine with the study (at the time I was press officer of the Brescia Ais, Sommelier association).
Over time I have met many people who have inspired me, including Oscar Farinetti (Eataly) who made me understand how important it is for an entrepreneur to be able to observe, be curious and grasp the details, a teaching that I wanted to put into practice on a daily basis.
After graduating, I dealt with marketing in a French housewares company and the following year I started a collaboration with Pinti Inox, a houseware company in Brescia [editor's note: Pinti is one of our principals]. The collaboration lasted three years during which I followed the large-scale distribution and promotions, and there I discovered how much easier it was to sell cutlery to those who gave them rather than to sell them to those who resold them. From there to the launch of Promotica it was a short step. Promotica's first customer in 2003 was Galbani, who commissioned us an incentive activity on delicatessens with the study and development of a program that gave them a set of knives upon reaching a certain sales target.
How does a prize competition originate? What are the steps and characteristics to focus on?
It is a team effort, our task above is all about accompany the customers in choosing innovative and distinctive solutions for their business. We offer our customers tailor made programs, a complete consultancy service for promotional planning and development, managing every phase, from the design of promotional operations to the implementation of the communication campaign, from the procurement of prizes to logistics services, data monitoring and finally measurement of results.
The goal of all our actions is aimed at obtaining concrete and measurable results in terms of turnover and market shares. Today we have an extra tool to support our planning, artificial intelligence that helps us to learn more about customers and their consumption habits. With AI we are able to collect a large amount of data that allows us to have a more precise consumer profiling, a starting point for setting a more informed, more aware and more effective strategy for our customers.
Research on new trends and effective and fast communication are elements that cannot be missing to attract new customers and make them become attached to us. Promotica, in 2018, won the award for the Best Communication Campaign and the Special Mention in the Best Reward category for the # 2MilioniDiPremi campaign of Coop Alleanza 3.0. Tell us a little about what it is.
The search for new trends is a fundamental point for the success of our initiatives and our Research & Product Development division is constantly active on this front, trying to anticipate trends and seeking innovative solutions for our customers.
The Promotion Awards are an important annual recognition organized by Promotion Magazine to enhance the best practices in the sector and spread the culture of relationship marketing. We are proud that our Coop Alleanza 3.0 #2MilioniDiPremi campaign received this coveted recognition during the 2018 Promotion Awards. It is the result of so much passion, research and collaboration between Promotica and our customers.
The recognition of the Promotion Awards was renewed with great pleasure also in March 2021. In particular, the 4 campaigns that received the awards reflect some of the current trends in the loyalty world, such as Made in Italy, social and environmental sustainability present in the catalog "The collection that looks to the future" by Coop Alleanza 3.0 (Best Catalog), or the ecofriendly education of the Tupperware collection "Collect good habits" by Conad and finally the digitization present in the completely digital catalog of Coop Centro Italia (Best Multichannel campaign).
In 2016 you founded Buongusto Italiano, a company that deals with strategic marketing support for companies in the F&B. In 2019, you launched the "Chefs for life" association [editor's note: Marcello Scognamiglio from Grissini also collaborated for Chefs for Life] which, thanks to the most important Chefs and Pastry Chefs from the Italian and international culinary scene, raises funds to support organizations or associations that carry out activities of great importance from a social and health point of view. There is a strong link, therefore, between these two sectors ...
These are all my passions, and when your job matches your passions, you can consider yourself lucky. I have always tried to combine the two sectors because I think that synergies, when they arise from good intentions, can bring added value and multiply the effectiveness of actions. Chefs for Life project, for example, was born from the concept of supporting entities that carry out social and health activities, in particular medical-hospital structures, projects against food waste and against hunger in the world. We strongly believe in Corporate Social Responsibility because today business cannot live long without the creation of shared value.
Marcello Scognamiglio for "Chefs for Life"
But let's go to the present: last October Promotica acquires the status of Innovative SME and since 27 November the company is listed on the AIM Italia market of the Italian Stock Exchange, dedicated to small and medium-sized enterprises with high growth potential. What is your next goal?
We want to continue the overseas expansion program launched in 2017, focusing first on the Eastern European markets and, later, Asia-Pacific. For us, development in foreign markets is a strategic objective, as announced in the IPO phase, and is one of the main drivers of future growth. We aim to enter new target countries with high development potential, which is why we recently landed on the Croatian market through a loyalty campaign for SPAR Croatia. We also believe that loyalty initiatives are a privileged means to bring the excellence of Made in Italy all over the world and spread the values of our country.
Talking about Asia, the local market seems very well disposed towards loyalty programs (see YUU and others). How do you imagine the development of this activity in other countries?
In our country, customers have always responded well to short and long-term collections. What we need today to keep interest on long-term programs is to rethink about systems that should provide a greater personalization of actions to the final customer in order to make the action more effective. The market is already moving in this direction but it is necessary to speed up in order to improve the personalization of the service to final customers.
The dynamics are different abroad, for example in Europe they work much more on special promotions and other short-term operations while catalogs are generally not treated.
This will be one of our challenges for 2021: to develop and enter the loyalty programs market. And you? What are your goals?