The Challenge

A New Position for Pasta

Pasta has been facing a two-fold problem in recent years. For some shoppers, there was a growing perception that pasta was an unhealthy food, filled with the glutens and carbohydrates they were trying to avoid.

For others, it was less about health trends and more about indifference. “Pasta was pasta,” and awareness of the unique options and how they’d be best used was lacking. Little stood out in the sea of boxes on shelves, resulting in minimal exploration and discovery.

In either case, all-time low levels of category engagement were revealed in flat growth and declining sales.

Barilla, America’s #1 pasta brand, was determined to reverse this trend, starting in the pasta aisle itself. Wild Blue was called in for help.

The Solution

A lengthy immersion session, coupled with an extensive analysis of Barilla’s insights and data, provided us with the basis of a strategic POV around a wholesale innovation of pasta at retail. With these strategic underpinnings in hand, an unconventional take on aisle flow and merchandising hierarchy began to take shape.

In these reenvisioned spaces, organization took place by occasions and meal solutions, rather than the brand blocking more typical to the category. Shoppers would now be guided toward intuitive connections with different types of pasta cuts and their optimal uses. Complementary products would be shelved, for example, next to other types that were ideal for the preparation of specific dishes, whether main courses, sides, soups or salads, for example.

Barilla would address concerns around health and nutrition through a combination of at-shelf education, recipe ideas and product innovation. We also took the opportunity to introduce an in-aisle kitchen vignette, meant to engage and remind shoppers of their passion for cooking.

The Results

Barilla was provided with a number of reinvention iterations aimed at bringing inspiration and relevance back to a category that had, in many ways, lost its allure. For those who’ve written-off pasta, we’re creating awareness of the healthy benefits they’re missing. For those in a spaghetti rut, we’re giving them new reasons to think outside of the pasta box. And for those short on time and ideas, we’re providing real solutions.

While results are still preliminary, we’re convinced Barilla is well on track.