Magazine article Marketing

Marketing Promotion: Product of the Year - 2013 Winners Revealed

Magazine article Marketing

Marketing Promotion: Product of the Year - 2013 Winners Revealed

Article excerpt

This year's triumphant brands prove that it pays to innovate, while research highlights the added consumer appeal of lines that display the Product of the Year logo.

A recession can be the killer blow to brands that fail to innovate. The news from the high street earlier this month, with HMV and Blockbuster going into administration, is evidence of an unforgiving economy Conversely, it can also offer opportunities for those brands willing to take a gamble by overhauling their products or targeting new markets while their competitors play it safe.

The brands that have triumphed in 2013's Product of the Year awards have demonstrated that investing in innovation sets them apart in the eyes of consumers. By selecting the winners based on a survey of more than 12,000 people, the awards measure innovation as it is understood by consumers - and, therefore, the bottom line - rather than peer reviewers.

This year's winners originate from a wide range of categories; from feminine care to pet care, and confectionery to cheese. The latter pair feature among a growing selection of food categories in the awards, says Product of the Year managing director Mike Nolan. In the UK branch of the awards, non-food FMCG has usually accounted for 70%-80% of entries - in contrast to most of the other countries in Europe where the awards also run. 'The UK has become more foodie generally and we're now catching up with Europe,' adds Nolan.

The entries

He admits that the number of entries dropped in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, but has since recovered to about 90% of its pre-slump peak. More than 110 products were entered into the UK awards this year. A judging panel, chaired by Siobhan Freegard, managing director of awards partner Netmums, selected 89 of the entries to progress through to the consumer research stage.

According to Freegard, spotting innovation that can save time in the home is always a hot topic for Netmums users. 'Our mums love discussing products, especially new stuff. There are long threads on our forums about how to keep on top of housework; people learn from each other. They talk about innovation that might fill the gap between being on top and not being on top of the washing, or how to get those stains out of the kids' T-shirts,' she explains.

The number of categories in the awards depends on the types of products entered, and at least two are required for a particular category to be created (though these can be entered by the same brand owner). It is this flexibility which makes the awards stand out, says Nolan. 'We can run categories that reflect what is going on in the market; that is why we don't preordain what those categories will be. We would like to see more 'eco' products entered, and make-up and beauty do not feature as much as we would like.'

It would be fair to say that big brands dominate this year's awards. However, smaller companies do make their mark on the list. 'For a small brand to win is a challenge, but it is a uniquely level playing field where we are not judging the brand name, the marketing or the advertising,' says Nolan. 'We are focused on asking about the product - so there is as much chance for small brands to win.' One of these is Rocktails (see box below, right), which Nolan says successfully tapped into one of the knock-on effects of the downturn by creating the 'going-out experience' at home with its frozen-vodka cocktails.

Stand-out appeal

The latest research, conducted by TNS on behalf of Product of the Year, revealed that products featuring the awards logo delivered a 19% higher purchase-intent than those displaying the word 'new'. In addition, 33% of those surveyed said the logo increased their trust in a product's ad claims.

Although the study was carried out in 2009, Nolan believes it still reflects the value that brands derive from winning one of the awards. The fact that many brands return each year, he says, is further endorsement. …

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