On the 11th day in Italy, we explored Milan more and were given a presentation by Velasca, a shoe company based in Milan. The presentation started with an employee coming to a nearby hotel and giving us a presentation, then we continued on to tour their Fiege logistics center slightly outside Milan, and then we went on to see one of their shops. The company makes a variety of shoes, and sells to a variety of markets, similar to several shoe companies based in the United States. Today, I will investigate their business model, how they are trying to expand, and similar models in the United States.
During the first presentation, the representative started by talking about Velasca’s marketing goals, and the products that they provide. She said that they value having a specific target so they mostly focus on Italian men, as they are the easiest to reach for the Italy based company. While Velasca sells mostly mens shoes for fancy occasions, they also sell sneakers and woman’s shoes. Velasca makes shoes by hand using fine leather from Southern Italy. While the company mainly targets Italian men, the company primarily uses the internet for marketing. This can be a problem as the internet is not too common in Italy compared to in other developed countries, however, this gives Velasca an advantage to target other audiences, more specifically men in the United States, Phillipines, and United Arab Emirates. The company also has stores in multiple cities abroad, including London, England. This recognition is very good for Velasca’s brand, as with a wider customer base, the company’s net worth can significantly increase. A company that I find very similar to Velasca in the United States is Sperry Top Sider. While Sperry Top Sider is a lot bigger, they both try to sell shoes targeted for both fancy and casual occasions. Along with having a similar product, their marketing techniques are also quite similar, as both companies make significant use of the internet for marketing. The typical stores are also very similar, as they consist of shoes for display with other props around to make the atmosphere welcoming. The main noticeable difference between the stores is that Sperry Top Sider has larger more commercialized stores, however, this tends to often be the case with stores in the United States as opposed to stores in Italy.
During the presentation, I was very interested to not only hear about the marketing strategies and business plans of Velasca, but also the companies future plans if they are to become very successful. According to the representative, Velasca is trying to become extremely profitable, but when this occurs they are open to selling their company to a larger company willing to pay large amounts of money. This surprised me as I can tell the company values craftmanship, but they still would be willing to give it up for big business. I could tell that the company was very organized from their website and advertising, so I didn’t expect to hear the representative that they would take being bought for a large amount of money over continuing to expand their own business. On the visit to Fiege logistics center, I was surprised to see how similar this was to warehouses in the United States. There were products in boxes everywhere, waiting to be shipped to wherever necessary, in the exact form that they would be delivered in. To assist the deliveries, there were extremely high tech machines throughout the center to read labels and transport them to other parts of the logistics center.
When walking around Milan after the site visits, I had the realization that I only had two days left in Italy. We decided to go shopping, proceeded to lose our way back again, and walked few miles around Milan. After this long walk, I decided to reward myself and get a top notch pizza from a place I had been eyeing all day. Me and a friend went to the place, and were shocked to find an hour long wait without a reservation. Before coming to Italy, I had heard that ordering food to go was frowned upon, however the waiter suggested I take it to go, so I still decided on it. When I had gotten back to the hotel, we ate the pizza and it was the best pizza I have eaten in my life so far. While this pizza experience seems very mindless and simple, it actually taught me a lot about studying abroad. I learned not to trust everything that people tell me ahead of time, and to sometimes go with my instinct of what would be the most enjoyable and safe experience. Without following this method, I would’ve seen a lot less of Milan, and likely would’ve ended up without the best pizza of my life. I had a lot of fun learning about Velasca and exploring Milan, and I look forward to two more days in the city. Stay tuned!