Derived from the need to respond to the demand from consumers for personalisation, the e-commerce project by Barilla fulfils all the conditions necessary to evolve, assisted in the process by Alpenite, which has accompanied it throughout all the project stages, from conception to implementation.
Barilla Dedicated to You: an example of e-motional commerce
Alpenite brought its know-how to two workshops held during the 16th edition of the Netcomm Forum in 2021. One of these workshops was entitled Barilla Dedicated to You: an example of e-motional commerce. Taking part were Alpenite’s Business Developer Gianmarco Altieri, and Laura Pezzotta, Head of the Personalization Unit at Barilla, who illustrated how the Dedicated to You project came about, from strategic needs to future developments, providing an example of e-motional e-commerce, managed from the start with a flexible, fluid approach.
The Dedicated to You project is the fruit of the collaboration between Alpenite and Barilla, who have devised and created an original, unprecedented approach to e-commerce.
If you were unable to take part in the May 13 event, you can watch the recording of the workshop; alternatively, the video below focuses on a number of steps in the process that turned the idea of Dedicated to You into a real, surprising project that belongs to the world of e-commerce, but also adds a new e-motional perspective.
A data-driven e-motional project
“We’ve been online since mid-November 2020, but the project has taken a long time to develop, because it’s something innovative, something different from Barilla Group’s usual business”, explains Laura Pezzotta. “We embarked on Dedicated to You because Mulino Bianco and Pan di Stelle were seeking to give a further boost to their relationship with their consumers, but above all because we realised that if we wanted to bring people right into the world of the brand, we had to give them the chance to show who they are, literally”.
The creation of the new B2C e-commerce based business dedicatoate.mulinobianco.it, was met with enthusiasm. Barilla decided to start with Mulino Bianco and Pan di Stelle, because they already featured a strong emotional component, and Dedicated to You gave everyone the chance to personalise the pack of their favourite products, not only with their names, but also with dedications and images.
Behind the Dedicated to You e-motional commerce project, however, is a series of data, so it can also be described as data-driven. The brand values become one with the product: this, in short, is the idea of a project devised to respond to the need and the desire to try out a new relationship with users.
Personalisation as such is not a new idea, but by 2017 it was already becoming clear it was one of the most effective drivers to boost engagement and make users feel involved. Although today personalisation is mentioned above all in advertising contexts, with personalised messages and a study of people, Barilla preferred to take a different approach.
Dedicated to You is neither a contest nor a temporary campaign of a one-shot marketing project. “We wanted to approach it as we would a business”, explains Pezzotta: it’s no coincidence that she is the head of the new business unit in Barilla Group, which had no precedent.
One of the key points in the project, and one of the most difficult to implement, was the idea of a platform without a specific dedicated timeframe; a platform that was always available both to consumers and for the whole back office team.
Behind this project is a whole series of priceless learning opportunities for the company, in addition to the actual business results. The business results are undoubtedly important, but the real challenge lies in the series of innovations and the various KPI: “This was something no-one had been able to achieve before, and the great thing is that we’re building it day after day. Personalisation remains a concept that is studied and applied worldwide, when technology offers the opportunity to do so, but it’s not enough: a start-up spirit is also required, and we have this”. It’s important to emphasise, however, that this is not an independent start-up, but a new planet within a large ecosystem already in existence, which is why the context is complex, and subject to important logics within which it has to operate.
Memorability as a premiumness driver
From a strategic point of view, Dedicated to You focuses on the concept of memorability, working very specifically on elevating a product conceived in a particular context to a premiumness concept.
An area has been marked out that generates value, both for the brand and for the individual products, because it offers objects made in Italy with great care, and which can be used again.
“We are also monitoring the post-sale stage, and we’ve received a lot of positive feedback, because the packaging features a series of details that define the premium experience, and when we talk about a premium experience, this applies to the whole process: the project chain is working on a one-to-one product, and on making the company – which usually reasons in terms of tonnes – think about the individual product and the care that goes into every detail”, she explains.
To create something memorable, the Dedicated to You team enlisted the assistance of a number of expert partners, including Alpenite, to make the project successful. “The very name of the project transmits its very high value, as do the graphics, starting from the construction of the website and the online user experience, as well as the creative nature of the packs. All this helps create something truly new, which cannot be compared with anything currently present on the market”, adds Pezzotta.
The aim has been to make the process memorable right from the start of the funnel, with an unprecedented online product configuration experience, through to the special unboxing moment, which is unusual for food products. The expectation effect is created and enhanced right from the early stages of the process, the minute the user enters the website, where the product does not yet exist: it must be created on demand. This intensifies the experience further, because it gives the user an idea of the quality that is on its way, offering them a special 3D preview of the object, personalised with all the details chosen by the user.
What challenges seem impossible to overcome?
“Considering the complexity of this project, there are some challenges that may seem impossible to overcome initially. We started out immediately with an agile working approach. The word agile is widely abused, but in our case it’s accurate: we make mistakes, we work fast to correct them, and above all, we’ve brought on board agile working theories because it was a necessity, since a b2c business requires it, and the desire for something new continues to grow”, explains Pezzotta.
The initial challenge was to convince a large company to invest and to place its trust in the project by waiting for it to yield results. This was followed by the challenge of finding the right partners, where our existing partners proved unsuitable or unwilling to accept the risk of the project, and the challenge of quality: not an immediately tangible quality, but a quality obtained over time, requiring a greater effort, but one that would ultimately be rewarded.
The key is to implement a flexible approach and to create synergies. This is the secret to striking the right balance between the existing system and something completely new. “Then there are the challenges that regard people’s expectations: we want to show customers that we deserve their trust. There wasn’t a solution to hand, we had to build one from scratch”, Pezzotta concludes.
The Dedicated to You team started out from a consolidated, analysed need, and created a personalised product to put on show and to use.
The added value of all the e-commerce products is that they not only meet consumers’ needs, but they also offer something extra: present in these objects is not only the brand, but also the emotions of an individual.
In the future, the Dedicated to You range will undoubtedly be enriched with new creative ideas and new objects, but this enrichment will also regard the platform: thanks to its “ongoing futurability”, it will have the opportunity to become a tool able to support the creation of memorability and to experiment.
Dedicated to You, an e-commerce system conceived to convey and to highlight the trends and insights to be brought on board, has already laid the foundations to become a laboratory in which endless combinations are possible.