Sbarro: giving a Brazilian touch to a NY-style pizza

Published by on behalf of the sprint master Alessandro Ng

Designing a successful expansion strategy and customer experience for Sbarro’s first restaurant in São Paulo.

Sbarro is considered one of the largest Italian food chains in the world today with more than 800 outlets across the globe. The company has a long history since they first opened Salumeria, and Italian grocery store, in 1956.

Sbarro expands presence in South America

Recently the company has focused all its efforts in repositioning the brand by redesigning its services, remodeling many eateries across U.S, and even designing a new logo. The company started operating in Goiânia, Brazil, and a brand new operation was recently started in Brazil’s largest city, São Paulo.

Due to the cultural diversity throughout Brazil, new operations required high levels of complexity. The challenge was to design a strategy that considers all of these facts and heads towards a better user experience in São Paulo’s new eateries while keeping Sbarro’s identity.

Understanding São Paulo’s pizza-lovers

We engaged in a deep dive into Sbarro’s user journey, analyzing different touchpoints and understanding the needs and expectations of Brazilian customers. The team also faced an additional challenge: since the city is known for having the largest Italian descendant population in the world, pizza is almost a sacred family ritual!

Design principals throughout the sprint focused on educating new users on Sbarro’s street pizza style while covering all their needs. Our team worked together with management and real users through a co-creation session to redefine the in-store customer experience while focusing on four core topics: service principles, service flow, the customer’s journey, and suggestive selling techniques.

The most valuable insights were produced during the prototyping sessions where we tested these ideas and discovered the importance of defining a solid visual communication indicating the correct flow, and how worthless marketing initiatives like Sbarro’s famous “pizza fold” are if the entire store concept doesn’t make sense to the final customer.

Micro-innovations in Sbarro’s in-store experience

The results of this sprint focused on real and specific actions to improve the customer’s flow, improve signage, and define better upselling offers aligned with Sbarro’s brand identity in Brazil. During the sprint, we learned that retail is all about the details and how micro innovations can positively transform the consumer’s journey throughout the entire experience. Small steps, huge impacts.


  • New metrics and customer service policies were discovered and implemented.
  • Retail is all about details and how micro innovations can positively transform the consumer’s journey throughout the retail experience. Small steps, huge impact.
  • Creating simple and easy to implement tools for upselling, guiding the customer flow, and engaging the team to guide the service experience are all essential for an outstanding customer journey.
  • While the support provided to a developed franchise such as Sbarro greatly assists in the store’s operations, we must consider aspects of the culture in which the store is being opened. São Paulo consumers have different expectations when compared to those in the U.S.