Unes Seeks To ‘Set The Template’ For Premium Private Label In Italy: Analysis

By Steve Wynne-Jones
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Unes Seeks To ‘Set The Template’ For Premium Private Label In Italy: Analysis

Over two decades, Unes’s il Viaggiator Goloso has evolved from a premium private-label offering to a badge of honour for the Italian retailer. Alessandra Arosio reports.

In 1999, Italian retailer Unes launched il Viaggiator Goloso, its premium private-label brand.

The brand, which translates in English as ‘the Gastro Traveller’, was developed to satisfy the different needs and tastes of consumers, offering a range of selected high-quality products at an affordable price, including a number of traditional Italian recipes.

Point Of Difference

As Roberto Comolli, purchasing director of Unes, tells ESM, product design is considered the unique selling point of il Viaggiator Goloso, as well as the use of quality ingredients. The retailer seeks to make all products in the range “better than the branded equivalent, while also offering them at an affordable price,” says Comolli.

In recent years, the growth of il Viaggiator Goloso has been consistent, and the private-label brand ended 2018 with a turnover of €150.7 million, reporting an annual sales increase of 50.4%. According to Comolli, il Viaggiator Goloso accounts for 35/36% of overall sales in the retailer’s branded stores, underlining its positive performance.


Today, the il Viaggiator Goloso range consists of over 1,230 product references, covering a number of food categories, as well as household- and personal-care goods. According to Comolli, plans are under way to increase this assortment, mainly in the fresh-food and gifting categories.

Consumer Sentiment

The positive performance of il Viaggiator Goloso is also contradictory to the wider Italian economic situation and the effect of recession on the Italian retail market.

“We are already seeing a considerable decrease in the average sale price, year after year,” Comolli explains. “The general climate of mistrust, the growth of online, the entry of new players, as well as the development of unconventional players – for example, food delivery – will force companies to become more and more competitive.”

In response to this, Unes has decided to place its focus on bolstering its manufacturing capabilities, in order to ensure that its products are of a consistently high quality at the right price, and distanced from national brands, Comolli says.


Store Concept

In 2015, Unes took the decision to develop il Viaggiator Goloso into a store concept, in order to understand if the private-label brand would have been able to sustain itself in complete autonomy from the U! brand, Unes’ standard private-label offering.

At the moment, il Viaggiator Goloso boasts four stores, located in Milan, Basiglio, Buccinasco and Segrate, where customers can enjoy and buy a number of high-quality gastronomic products. A total of 5,000 SKUs are available at these stores, of which approximately a fifth (940) are il Viaggiator Goloso products.

“We are trying to create something that didn’t previously exist,” Comolli explains. “[il Viaggiator Goloso] is neither a supermarket nor a gourmet shop, and this encourages us to experiment in the choice of the location, as well as in the size of the stores.”

Vota VG Initiative

Like all Unes brands, il Viaggiator Goloso is focused on the shopper, with Comolli saying that all processes and company decisions are taken to satisfy consumer needs. With this in mind, last October, Unes introduced the Vota VG initiative to its stores, inviting customers to rank il Viaggiator Goloso products.


Through the website, consumers could assign a score from one to five to the articles and comment their taste experience. These scores were then displayed in store, via digital shelf-edge labelling. According to Comolli, the initiative has been very successful, racking up over 100,000 votes, and it has helped the company to shape new-product developments.

“Vota VG is oriented to the evaluation of existing products, helping us to understand if some of them need changes and finishes,” he says.

Two decades on from its launch, il Viaggiator Goloso continues to set the template for premium private label in one of the most gastronomically savvy markets in Europe.

© 2019 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Alessandra Arosio. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: European Supermarket Magazine.

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