Vouchers are an effective and increasingly popular marketing tool to attract customers and the Italian Ministry of Economic Development recently issued a “circular” which clarifies the boundaries of the latest regulations applicable to companies wishing to use them.

According to the Ministry, issuing a voucher (“buono“) to a customer who purchases a certain quantity of products, in order to encourage the customer to purchase additional products within the same point of sale, is a promotion which does not fall under the application of the stringent regulations on prize promotions.

Prize promotions (which include skill contests, prize draws and prize operations) are regulated in Italy by Presidential Decree 430/2001, recently amended by Law Decree 24 June 2014, n. 91, converted into Law 11 August 2014 n. 116.

Stringent formalities are required by such Decree in case of promotions where a prize is offered to any person which purchases or sells a specific product or service (the so called “prize operations”).

However, article 6, paragraph 1 of the Decree provides for some exceptions to the applicability of such regulations and the circular issued by the X Division of the Ministry – specialized in Prize Promotions – provides for some guidelines for the interpretation and applicability of said article 6.

Among such exceptions, there are promotions with the following features:

  • vouchers given to a person spending a certain amount of money (in one or more transactions, depending upon the terms of the promotions);
  • vouchers being either a discount on an additional purchase or a coupon of a fixed value;
  • vouchers given in both material and digital format (e.g. discount codes, electronic coupon);
  • vouchers used in the point of sale in which they have been issued or in the points of sale of the promoting companies and their affiliates.

The above is without prejudice to the right of the customers which must, in any event, be clearly informed of the applicable terms and conditions. The full text of the Ministry’s circular is available here