“We always feature the winners in the paper and I know there's a sales uplift”
Jane Hamilton, Consumer Editor, The Sun Newspaper
“The fact that we think that we have great products and consumers have validated that for us, makes it that much more special.” The television ads, the print ads, the point of sale, the way we that we can take that and translate it into the things we do every day are very important parts of what we will do with this award.”
Director, Corporate Communications, Dr Pepper Snapple Group (2009 US Winner)
"The Product of the Year Symbol is going to help us differentiate from the hundreds other home cleaning products. The endorsement from 60,000 people is huge for us and will help us increase the believability of our promise."
David Miller Brand Manager, Pledge - SC Johnson (2010 US Winner)
POY LATEST NEWS
If Product of the Year proves anything...
IF Product of the Year proves anything (and we like to think it proves a lot!), it’s that iconic products aren’t the sole preserve of the past. We love to celebrate the likes of Marmite (established in 1902) and Tate & Lyle Golden Syrup (born 1881). And rightly so. These are just two British-born icons that have not merely stood the test of time, they’ve jumped up and down and jigged on it. But fortunately for us, innovation isn’t a static thing. It’s an ever-evolving opportunity, fed by changing times, bright minds and the consumers’ desire for better in whatever form that may be. That’s why brand leaders are constantly raising the bar and why the product launches we see today may well survive the passage of time to become the iconic classics of tomorrow. Yes, we all know the doom-laden statistics: three-quarters of FMCG launches fail in the first year. But what about celebrating the successes. Here at Product of the Year we’ve certainly seen a few. Former winner, Heinz Top Down Tomato Ketchup is an innovation worth squirting about. The glass bottle may still have its place but the squeezy bottle is condiment brilliance. Another victor, Persil Small and Mighty, changed the way we wash our clothes, and how we package our household products. Dove Summer Glow Body Lotion was a 2007 winner – and set the bar for the many other hint-of-tan products which followed. There are more than a clutch of other Noughties innovations which have already proved their staying power: Fruit Shoots and Ella’s Kitchen pouches, to name just two. Even the humble wrap has sliced away at the bread market. Nowadays all these are family staples, yet two decades ago they didn’t exist. Take Innocent smoothies. They’re a household name which have changed the way the nation drinks. They’ve been imitated endlessly but stand firm as market leader, albeit now owned by Coca-Cola. Yet it was just 16 years ago that Waitrose went out on a limb and stocked those crazy new smoothie drinks at 10 stores. The message here is clear: the blood, sweat and tears of today could be the future classics of tomorrow. Whether you love or hate the idea of being the next Marmite, in the end history will be the judge.
BREAKING NEWS: Product of the Year will be at Cannes Lions 2016! The Product of the Year team will be at Cannes this June, hosting a number of events that will draw together individuals and ideas from all corners of the world. This year our spotlight is on innovation. Here's what we have planned! Round Table Event Tuesday 21st June 2016 12:00 Marriot Hotel A roundtable debate on ‘The challenges of marketing product innovation are the same globally. Or not’ will feature marketers, agency gurus and thought leaders from Asia, North America, Europe and Africa. Our top industry leaders will be discussing whether it's really important to adapt your marketing strategy across the globe - after all, don't we all need to feed our families and wash our clothes, whether you're in Mumbai or London? Or is it really all about the channel? And how important is social media to absolutely everything? We're really excited to learn what our guests - senior marketers and experienced creatives from around the world - will have to say on this challenging topic! Campaign's Global VIP Party Wednesday 22nd June 2016 18:00-21:00 The Carlton Beach, 58 Boulevard de la Croisette We will be joining Campaign this year in hosting VIPs at Campaign’s Global VIP party – the most exclusive party in Cannes! Every year the VIP party is packed with the most talented individuals from media, marketing and advertising on the beautiful Carlton Beach. We can't wait to meet them all! Are you or your company heading to Cannes this June? If so, don't forget to drop us a line and let us know! We'd love to meet you and discuss what Product of the Year can do for your brand. Please email Helga at email@example.com or phone us on +44 (0) 20 7580 8197.
If you want an example of innovation, you’ll find it in the sandwich aisle.
If you want a prime example of product innovation, you’ll find it in the sandwich aisle. When John Montague, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, ordered cold beef between slices of bread to avoid getting up from his card game, he would have had no idea of the culinary masterpiece he was unwittingly launching. Yet nearly 300 years later, the sandwich stands as a cornerstone of global cuisine, possibly the most reinvented dish of all time. If we take the egg and cress on white as the baseline, think how far sandwich makers have stretched the crusty parameters of this lunchtime essential. Now, wraps account for about five per cent of all sarnie sales in major retailers, with hot wraps raising the bar more recently, according to the folk behind British Sandwich Week, which runs until Sunday. Paninis are also gaining in popularity – last year their sales rose by 14 per cent in major retailers, while baguettes account for around at tenth of commercially made sandwiches. But it doesn’t stop there. Flatbreads, ciabattas, bagels, and even croissants can all claim a stake in sandwich sales. Spain has bocadillos. France has the Croque Monsieur. Basically, go anywhere in the world and you’ll find a lip-smacking local version of the international language of sandwich. In the UK we nibble effortlessly between crustless, doorstop, finger, open and toasted like the true leaders of the sandwich world that we are, munching our way through 11.5 billion sarnies each year. And we are just as free and easy with our fillings, swinging from the delicately simple cucumber sandwich to the in-your-face offerings from somewhere like Subway – now one of the leaders of the sandwich market in the UK – as the mood takes us. Most of the big retailers reinvent their sandwich offerings each year, knowing that public tastes move on. Fortunately this hand-held favourite is robust and can usually cope with whatever innovations are thrown at it. But like so many things in life, there is still a place for simplicity. Sometimes a decent hunk of ham between two thick slices of good, white, buttered bread can taste as delicious as any of your fancier offerings. Chicken is the nation’s favourite filling, according to British Sandwich Week. We’d add half a just ripe avocado, a smear of mayo and a few grinds of black pepper. On granary. What’s your sandwich of choice? Between those slices there’s a lesson for anyone involved with product innovation: the inventions that stand the test of time are the ones that meet a real need. And feel free to tinker all you like, but never lose sight of the simplicity of the original. It may still be the best.
When St George was slaying dragons...
When St George was slaying dragons you’d like to think he’d stoked up on the very best English meat, fish and veg before doing so. In fact he never set foot on English soil, and as for dragons, well…..But, hey, let’s not mess with mythology. Instead, as we celebrate (or at least give a bit of a nod) to the English Patron Saint this week, let’s also celebrate the other champions of our green and pleasant land: our food exporters. With Brexit stealing the headlines in 2016, it’s easy to overlook the fact that our food and drink industry is building bridges between England – ok, Britain – and the rest of the world. Chocolate is our biggest food export, followed by salmon, cheese and beef. Our biscuits have also gone global, along with soft drinks, breakfast cereals, vegetables, chicken, and sauces. And that’s just our top ten food exports, from the Food and Drink Federation. That will come as a surprise to many. Nearly a fifth of British people think our food is unpopular around the world when in fact the sector exports almost £12.8bn of food and non-alcohol drink products a year, three-quarters of which goes to the European Union. What’s even more surprising is we’re excelling at ‘taking coals to Newcastle’ or in this case cheese to France, beer to Belgium and tea to China! In 2014 the UK was the EU’s number one exporter of tea to China, increasing by £6.4m (+2,000%) in 2015. It’s a huge turnaround for a country which has relied on imported tea leaves from that same nation since the 17th century. UK cheese exports have reached an all-time high with sales to the home of fromage, France, up 20% in 2014 (HMRC). And we’re even selling beer by the barrel-load to the Belgians, with sales worth £93 million in 2015, according to Government figures. So England and the other home nations are finally being taken seriously by gourmands worldwide and at last shrugging off their poor reputation for food. Brexit or not, the Europeans are getting a real taste for what our small and large producers have to offer. And even allowing for turbulent political days ahead, that reputation is set to grow with a Great British Food Unit set up by the Government earlier this year with an eye on increasing manufactured food exports to £6 billion by 2020. The long term ambition of the new unit is to match France and Germany, which both currently export more than double the UK in terms of the value of food and drink. We have them in our sights! So whether it’s for St George or our other patron saints, let’s fly the flag for the food innovators from England, Ireland, Scotland and Northern Ireland who are whetting appetites worldwide.
It’s all going pear-shaped in the veg aisle.
It’s all going pear-shaped in the veg aisle. Perfect fruit and vegetables are making way for knobbly, blemished varieties ( Asda Wonky Veg Box). They may not look as attractive, but more and more shoppers love them for their pretty price. Although the majority of consumers will always opt for perfect produce, a sizeable minority are now happy to overlook bumps and bruises. But is not-quite-perfect ever going to be enough in other supermarket aisles? In fact the consumer is often more willing to accept not-quite-right than they realise. While millions of pounds of research and development will go into many launches, others – particularly from smaller businesses – may reach the shelves while still a work in progress, and when less money has been spent. But with sobering stats telling us that seven in 10 European product launches fails (Nielsen), lowering the pre-launch development budget sounds counter-intuitive at best, doesn’t it? In fact that could be precisely the reason it’s worth a shot. Hitting the shelves pre-perfection gives brave manufacturers the real feedback they seek while there is still some budget available to make changes. Take Nike trainers. Imperfect launches over decades – famously via a waffle iron - eventually shaped retail and sporting history. The first (second and third…) shoes made by the company’s co-founder Bill Bowerman weren’t pretty but they allowed Bill and colleagues to learn what makes the ideal running shoe and ultimately turn their efforts into a global empire. We recently read about Paul Graham, an American entrepreneur turned venture capitalist, whose business helps fund start-ups to get off the ground with small budgets. There have obviously been many of those projects that have fallen by the wayside, but the success of others such as Dropbox and Airbnb, which have gone on to raise millions more in funding, speaks for itself. “Launching helps you find out how you suck,” the entrepreneur said, “Until you launch, you might suck, but you won’t know why.” Turning ‘sucking’ into succeeding is where start-ups often lead the way. Most products launched by fledgling companies are prototypes with a tiny development budget. Every launch is a risk – that could become a huge success. Big companies are less likely to test the water in this way. Many don’t want to rock the boat with customers, knowing that forcing customers to step out of their comfort zone can have disastrous consequences. But fortune favours the brave, and taking risks can also reap big rewards. Being open to less-than-perfect leads to experimentation – the key to all innovation. So next time you see a knobbly carrot or bruised apple, look on it fondly. Customers are getting more comfortable with imperfection which might ultimately lead to perfect opportunities to innovate.