A Real Taste of Italy is Coming Your Way
Peter Marshall (PM): Ines, welcome to trunblocked.com Can we kick off this interview by sharing some of your background and what led up to the launch of the Ventuno Box series?
Ines DiFranco (IDF): Thank you very much for this interview. I have been working for more than 10 years in the gourmet food industry, especially abroad, and Ventuno is “a labour of my love” My baby, as it were. It’s the natural outcome of my passion for food and travel, culture and sheer persistence.
We always saw travel retail as an ideal platform for the product but we were delayed due to the COVID pandemic and the restrictions on travel that affected the Italian travel sector greatly. However, with Italian travel growing strongly and the wider travel retail sector recovering we are ready, and more than able, to begin presenting our range.
PM: Sense of place is not a new concept, but you are offering something different – it’s Sense of Place with a real twist – and that is the virtual reality element contained within the box. Tell us more.
IDF: For Ventuno Italy the sense of place concept is not only the imagination, although “visiting” a region in your head is important , but also the reality – the colours, the light and the forms – and therefore with the virtual reality aspect we help through imagery the customer becoming immersed in the sights of the location that they will be experiencing – whether Tuscany, Piedmont, Sicily or Apulia. We then, through the selection of gourmet products, expand the sense of place to taste, touch and aroma … a full trip for the mind and body.
PM: So it’s not a gimmick, but an authentic and an immersive experience. Where have you enjoyed distribution of your product so far?
IDF: We are actively discussing with a number of established travel retail distribution specialists both directly and through our work with JES Travel Retail including plans to be represented for discussions in Cannes during the TFWA World Exhibition and Conference in addition to the travel retailers that have both in store and eCommerce options for the brand.
PM: I can see Ventuno boxes being treated as great gifts – for others as well as for self-reward. But, with your new entry into Travel Retail, where exactly do you expect the boxes to be located? Just in the Fine Foods areas where they exist? Liquor? Do you have special promotional/activation ideas that you have in mind that may help leverage acceptance of Ventuno?
IDF: We have researched the gifting aspect of decision making in travel retail and this assisted us in identifying travel retail as a sector that would have a synergy with the gift box element of the Ventuno Italy product. The experience boxes, we feel, would ideally be located in fine food areas but also the local product areas that have a number of products across multiple categories. Additionally, and based around the content of the boxes, the product could be highlighted amongst the more classic spirits and wine section. Naturally this does not only mean departure halls but also arrival travel retail where available and as mentioned earlier the eCommerce sites of the travel retailers.
PM: You are a young business. I can see a lot of sales being done online. But offline, selling in-store is a very different kettle of fish. Why would a travel retailer in a Spanish airport, for example, who would have their own sense of place for Spanish products, decide to allocate space to Italian? Are you not a little constrained by the way the travel retailers currently operate?
IDF: Yes the business is young, but my team has been created from years of experience in their own specialist fields. Your example makes a valid point and like most duty free products – whether it be regional, customer demographic or price point related – there will be limitations on suitability. Although we do have the advantage of selling the experience of a country loved by millions of visitors each year and one that is famous for its exquisite selections of regional gourmet products. The experience boxes are ideal for those that are planning to visit Italy, have visited our country and who wish to have a “trip down memory lane”, or who simply wish to experience a selection of luxury products that the country is famed for.
PM: Your product is excellent and, with the 360 VR tour, highly original. If you had three things you wanted to say to category managers to pitch your product, what would they be?
IDF: Many thanks, Peter. The product is the result of many hours of hard work but also passion. We know that travel retail has highlighted sense of place as an important aspect of the customer purchasing decision making process and that the travel retail industry is a stronger than the average retail platform for quality and sophistication. Therefore we would like to explain that these 3 aspects are also indirectly inside the experience boxes that makes the Ventuno Italy range ideal.