Getting to know you series: Australia’s Italian community

Benvenuti! This Italian edition of MultiConnexions’ Getting to know you blog series was written by Daniel Assaf, Strategy Director at MultiConnexions.

According to the latest Australian Census, Italian Australians comprise the sixth largest ethnic group in Australia, with 4.6 per cent of the population (one million+ people) claiming ancestry from Italy.

In our previous Census, Italian was the second most spoken language at home. It has since slipped back to fifth place – largely because of the rapid rates of immigration from other migrant groups such as the Chinese and Indian communities in recent times. Nevertheless, Italian is still spoken by an impressive almost 300,000 people in Australia.

While the Italian diaspora spans every corner of Australia, including both regional and metro areas across every state and territory, Victoria is home to the largest concentration of Italians in the country with over 40 per cent calling the Garden State home, followed by NSW (28.4 per cent), WA (11 per cent) and SA (10.7 per cent).

In recent years, Australia has witnessed a new wave of migration from Italy as young people seek to escape economic hardship across Europe and seek a better life in Australia. More than 30,000 Italians have arrived in Australia on temporary visas, with most aged 18-30 years old. Some 12,000 working holiday visas were granted in 2015-16 alone. These new migrants are often single, somewhat language-dependent, highly mobile and technologically savvy. They are connected to their culture and community too.

Italians have a long and proud history of contributing to Australian society and culture and are in fact one of the most well-established communities in the country. Italians have been arriving to our shores since the 1800s. The largest influx to Australia occurred during the post-war period of the 1950s and ’60s. With nothing more than a suitcase full of dreams, many Italian migrants left small towns and villages mainly from the southern regions of Sicily, Calabria, Veneto and Campania in search of a better life and a better income. Their intention may have been to return to Italy, however, upon settling in Australia, many fell in love with the culture and the country and decided to stay and call Australia home.

The influence of Italian culture on Australian society has been immense and can be seen across many aspects of society – from architecture and construction, to entertainment, art, fashion, politics, sport and especially in food and hospitality. Dr. Laura Baldassar put it best when she said, “It is today hard to believe that garlic was once an unknown and highly suspicious food, that olive oil was only available from chemists in small glass bottles for medicinal purposes, that bread was prized for its ability to be cut in thin square slices, that cheese came in silver paper and melted into slippery blobs when cooked, that pasta was not a familiar dish, that wine was considered a beverage for foreigners and that tea was a far more popular drink than coffee.”

Looking to reach out to Australia’s Italian community for your next campaign? Piece of cake! Or should we say, piece of cannoli! With a sophisticated range of Italian media channels in Australia – across print, radio, television and digital – as well as numerous grassroots Italian community events, activities, clubs and associations, this audience segment is highly targetable and receptive to great marketing campaigns.

Just remember, when marketing to the Italian community, it’s very much a family affair and purchasing decisions are influenced by up to three generations. While many older, established Italians have set themselves up financially and enjoy a high disposable income, it is their children that are the conduits for brands looking to unlock this wealth. This is because they have a much better grasp of the English language and tend to be the primary carers of their parents’ finances. And that new car, home deposit or overseas trip that those grandchildren are after? You can be sure that nonno and nonna have a huge part to play in this.

So, start the conversations today and contact MultiConnexions to help you kindle your next Italian affair.

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