Ludovico Martelli grows by 22% by reconciling the past and innovation

4 min read

If it has become one of the favorite terms of contemporary marketing and among the most recurrent in communication, it is because in the term “heritage”, literally “heritage”, the dimensions of the past and the future meet harmoniously and effectively. Provided, however, that the former is not considered sacred and inviolable. The ability of those who deal with historic brands is precisely this, knowing how to maintain a long legacy and at the same time continually renew it. The one who succeeds in this is Ludovico Martelli, itself a historic company that has been dealing with beauty care products in Fiesole since 1908. With a well-defined strategy, that is, to propose brands with a long history and a strong vintage character. A strategy which, in fact, works very well, given that 2023 closed with a turnover of 94.2 million, an increase of 22% compared to the previous year.

It all started when, at the beginning of the twentieth century, Ludovico Martelli had the intuition to import toilet products from large German companies, starting with Schwarzkopf. However, it will be his son Piero who will make the company grow, above all thanks to the invention of a versatile shaving cream that conquers Italy after the Second World War: it is 1948 when he registers the Proraso brand. From there, decade after decade, other brands entered Ludovico Martelli: for example Marvis toothpaste (in 1996, even if it was born as a product for smokers, patented in 1958 by Count Franco Cella di Rivara), Kaloderma creams, Genoese soaps of Valobra, a company founded in 1903. All sharing an Italian flavor and style from times gone by, many often saved from oblivion. The know-how of the artisans of Valobra, where the centuries-old history of soap produced on the Ligurian Riviera in particular was concentrated, was in danger of disappearing. Martelli has not only taken over the brand, but also the factory, its second after the one in Fiesole: «It is very important to maintain the know-how of the brand while looking to the future and innovation – confirms Laura Cardelli, marketing director of the company -. We purchased Valobra because we were fascinated by the traditional production method of saponification with an “open-air boiler”, a long process that is as ancient as it is romantic, an essential requirement for creating impeccable quality soap. The soap factory was then renovated and projected into the contemporary world while respecting its prestige and historicity. In the redesigned factory today there is also a museum gallery dedicated to the brand’s heritage and an experiential area where you can discover the Valobra collections.”

Among the latest acquisitions of Ludovico Martelli, which today has 13 brands, there is also Floïd, an aftershave born in Spain in 1932, protagonist of an important line expansion last year with the launch of ten new references: «For the future we look with interest in foreign markets, where our brands are growing very well thanks to their quality, historicity and the Italian heritage that distinguishes them – continues the manager -. There could also be some new developments in the coming years.”

You might think that the venerable age of most brands doesn’t make them attractive to younger customers. It’s the opposite: «The new generations are very attentive, they put the value of a brand first, understood not only as value for money, but they tend to prefer one brand to another based on the messages it expresses, the values ​​it communicates . Proraso, for example, has an important history behind it and is also much loved by the new generations both because it is handed down from generation to generation, as the art of shaving is passed on from father to son, and because the brand has evolved in time, even not new products capable of satisfying new trends, such as beard care.”

Proraso and Marvis, which together generate almost 70% of the company’s revenues, are also supported by a convinced social communication, a universe where Ludovico Martelli’s “contemporary” brands (but always with vintage allure), such as Batist, are also very present and Adorn, much loved by Gen Z. The goal for 2024 is to grow by another 12%, especially in markets such as China, Turkey, France and Spain: «All our products are made in the production plant near our headquarters in Florence – concludes Cardelli -. We are determined and proud to still produce in Italy, and we are convinced that this passion and the quality of our products is recognized and appreciated in Italy and abroad by consumers.”

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