piadelle mulino bianco vrd


Exploring the future of industrial breadmaking between Italy and France

“The pretotyping process was an amazing moment of unique transformation, the Italian and French R&D teams worked together sharing local experience and global know-how.”

Barilla team member

The different types of industrial bread available in the supermarket help consumers, on a daily basis, with their nutrition and organization of the pantry. How can the various brands under the Barilla umbrella reinvent their offerings to respond to the new and evolving habits of the Italian and French consumer?

The challenge of this project was therefore to reinvent the future of packaged soft bread for both Mulino Bianco and Harry’s, identifying new paths that consider local and global trends, and changes in eating habits, leveraging the synergies of the Barilla group and their knowledge of the individual markets.

The approach

To complete this challenging mission, we created a tailor-made design process that focused on people, whether consumers or key players within the company.

We balanced specialized and synergistic local activities in the two countries, encouraging collaboration between the French and Italian teams, but with the goal of developing a distinct strategy for each brand.

We created a strategic path of growth and expansion by challenging an asset typically depicted as a commodity, in a category seen to be delivering less and less value and innovation.

50 Barilla employees and 252 consumers, from both countries, came together to participate in the iterative process.

192 Consumers

in 2 countries and 4 cities
shared their bread consumption
during a 4-day journey.

1700 total inputs

TO map a network of needs
behaviours, and obstacles
related to the consumption of bread.

80 Consumers

participated in an in-depth
special breads.

40 Consumers

actively participated in the
iterative workshops of the

From data and assumptions to decisions

Through in-depth activities with stakeholders, local teams, and consumers, we gained an understanding of the ecosystem relevant to the product category.

The analysis of all inputs coming from the different phases of the project, through an iterative process of check & feedback, allowed us to identify actionable insights about the unique relationship Italian and French consumers have with bread, and to map the network of needs, behaviours, and obstacles to build future opportunities.

From there, working with a multi-department team from Mulino Bianco and Harry’s, we developed a new vision, new areas for innovation, and new product solutions and strategies for the future.

The cultural and professional diversity of the teams helped to build a broad perspective, and address the ever-changing food habits of the consumer.

Key implemented actions:

  • Areas for innovation and strategy 
  • Cross-activity, between France and Italy, of pretotype development, with subsequent consumer clinics.
  • Concept performance mapping and definition of prioritisation & roadmaps.
  • 22 concept and innovation for bread experiences of which 3 already launched 

“The collaboration with VRD was effective to engage bread users in Italy and France, deep diving the occasions of consumption involving bakery products, and identifying people needs and design principles. The co-design with consumers delivered several protocepts, clearly defined as features, shapes, key ingredients, taste, texture, packaging and product benefits. The prototyping step and the following validation with consumers brought to life new products with distinctive benefits, currently available on the market. In a nutshell: an effective structured human centered approach, with a real co-lead between VRD & Barilla, and a concrete business focus.”

ENRICO CADEMARTIRI. VP Global Center of Expertise and R&D Bakery AT BARILLA GROUP



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