Research carried out by the Product of the Year Awards and TNS found that many of the qualities shown by last year’s winners are still resonating with consumers, with on-the-go solutions, time-saving ingredients and convenience goods again populating the list of winning products.
Mike Nolan, Product of the Year’s chief executive, says: "Innovation comes in many forms and we’ve seen the FMCG sector pushing the boundaries of function, design and packaging further than ever for 2015. However, building trust in new products is vital to success."
For consumers themselves, success in the kitchen is clearly a motivation, with amateur cooks often inspired by watching their favourite TV chefs. Nonetheless, many of the category winners in this year’s awards reflected a desire to save time and cut corners.
Rather than rummage in a cupboard for an array of herbs and spices, for example, they might opt for Knorr’s Flavour Pots, containing stock and seasonings – which scooped the Sauce & Seasoning category.
Not limited to innovations in flavouring, convenience extended to the main course itself, with Asda’s Butcher’s Selection Simply Roast in the Bag Chicken winning the Food category. The range’s Simply Roast in the Tray Beef offering took the prize in the Convenience Products category.
Convenience cookware is also proving popular with consumers. JML’s one-pot cooker GoChef, which has eight functions and a built-in timer, seems to be the UK’s must-have kitchen gadget – it picked up the Kitchen Appliances trophy.
Product of the Year’s winners also highlighted a preference for food and drink convenience outside the home. This year’s consumer panel opted for on-the-go offerings from popular brands, such as Robinsons Squash’d handy packs of super-concentrated squash.
Those with no time to sit down to a bowl of their favourite cereal in the morning have been well-served in product innovation, too. A case in point is Weetabix’s On the Go Breakfast Drink. The product, which combines cereal with a drink in a 250ml bottle, won the Breakfast category.
Weetabix is a prime example of the way in which established brands are extending beyond their core product and into new areas, with the brand also winning in the Cereal category for its Banana cereal variant.
Other award-winning examples of this approach to NPD were McCoy’s Ultimate crisps, SodaStream’s Play and Felix Sensations Crunchy Crumbles.
"Innovating effectively, and without cannibalising an existing offer, is a skill that all major brands aspire to," says Colin Moyer, TNS’ UK head of innovation and product development.
Clairol 5 in 1 shampoo
Procter & Gamble set out to ‘revolutionise the haircare market’ with the category’s first shampoo and conditioner range for every member of the family.
Aimed at mums, the range includes gently cleansing shampoos and lightweight conditioners. It was launched with the slogan ‘The shampoo that cares for the family, just like you."
Clairol 5-in-1 comes in 26 SKUs of shampoo and conditioner in sizes of 200ml, 400ml and 700ml. Fragrances include Camomile, Fruity, Honey and Aloe Vera.
Helen Johnson, P&G’s haircare brand manager, says the August 2014 launch was "well-supported", with marketing activity including sponsorship of ITV’s weekday programming schedule, in-store point-of-sale activity and print advertising.
"The brands that have been acknowledged by Product of the Year may have made evolutionary or revolutionary changes, but all of them will make a big impact on consumer choice and help move their respective markets forward."
One sector struggling to move forward and suffering decline is the supermarket sector. The biggest names have clearly had a tough 12 months in a market placed under great pressure by the rise of German discounters Lidl and Aldi.
However, the performance of the biggest supermarkets in Product of the Year demonstrated that they are forward-looking in some areas of their business, and still produce products popular with consumers.
This was particularly pronounced in the health and beauty segment, with many cheaper supermarket alternatives to products from the established industry names topping the list of winners.
Tesco own-label lines such as Pro Formula and BD Trade Secrets won across four categories – Skincare Products, Facial Moisturiser, Beauty Products and Women’s Hair Removal Products.
While supermarket alternatives may be most attractive to price-sensitive shoppers, that is not to say that the established brand-owners in the market are being disregarded.
Clairol’s 5-in-1 shampoo, promoted as a ‘multi-benefit, family-tailored solution’, won the Shampoo crown, for saving consumers time during their bathroom routine and minimising on-shelf clutter.
Helen Johnson, P&G’s haircare brand manager, says: "Clairol 5-in-1 is a ground-breaking launch in haircare, offering a total solution for the entire family that hasn’t been seen in the UK before."
The Flash Magic Eraser is a similarly innovative product, and is now being aped by other brand owners. A reusable all-in-one multisurface stain-busting sponge, it won the Household Cleaning award.
Consumers’ seemingly inexorable appetite for technology was recognised in this year’s Product of the Year Awards, with the introduction of a new category.
Asda’s Simply Roast in the Bag Chicken
The packaging means consumers do not need to handle the raw meat, but simply pierce the bag and place it in the oven until the chicken is cooked. The roasting bag forms a chamber around the seasoned bird that seals in moisture and taste, and keeps the oven clean. Flavours include Piri Piri and Garlic & Herb. The pack also carries a QR code that consumers can scan with their phone for leftovers-recipe ideas.
Acer’s Iconia One 7 tablet picked up the gong. The device was popular among voters not just for its array of functions and apps, but also its sub-£100 price tag.
Acer was among the extensive list of winners to be called up on stage at this year’s awards ceremony, which took place in January at London venue 8 Northumberland Avenue and was hosted by comedian Miles Jupp, with entertainment by 2013 X Factor winner Sam Bailey.
The trophies were handed out to winners across a total of 43 categories. The winners were decided as a result of exhaustive research conducted by TNS among more than 10,000 consumers across the UK and Ireland.
For the winning brands, the Product of the Year Awards mean not only industry recognition, but also a positive influence on the most important part of their businesses – the bottom line.
"This badge of trust leads Product of the Year winners across the globe to report more than a 10%-15% average sales increase following their win," says Nolan.
In spite of the economic challenges facing many businesses and sectors, 2014 was characterised by
a resurgence in business confidence and consumer spending. This is good news for new product development.
Looking ahead, consumers are likely to see similar types of new product launches gracing retailers’ shelves, with a focus on convenient, on-the-go and time- and money-saving innovations.
|Alcoholic Drink||Crabbie's Fruits International||Halewood|
|Baby Care||Johnson’s Baby First Touch Range||Johnson & Johsnon|
|Bakery||Kingsmill Great White||Allied Bakeries|
|Breakfast||Weetabix On the Go Breakfast Drink||Weetabix|
|Cider||Carling British Cider Brewing Company||Molson Coors|
|Cleaning||Flash Magic Eraser||Procter & Gamble|
|Convenience||Asda Butcher’s Selection Simply Roast in the Tray Beef||Asda Stores Ltd|
|Cough & Cold||Benylin Chesty Cough & Cold Tablets||Johnson & Johnson|
|Crisp||McCoy’s Ultimate||KP Snacks|
|Dessert||Mars Variety Mix Mini Ice Cream||Mars Chocolate UK|
|Drinks System||SodaStream Play||SodaStream|
|Dry Shampoo||Batiste Dry Shampoo||Church & Dwight|
|E-Cigarette||blu Cigarettes||blu-Cigs UK|
|Facial Moisturiser||Pro Formula Q10 Anti-Age Day Cream||Tesco Stores Ltd|
|Feminine Care Liner||Always Dailies Folded & Wrapped Pantyliners||Procter & Gamble|
|Feminine Care Pad||Bodyform Roll. Press. Go. Ultra Towels||SCA Hygiene Products|
|Food||Asda Butcher’s Selection Simply Roast in the Bag Chicken||Asda Stores Ltd|
|Free From||Newburn Bakehouse Seeded Wraps||Warburtons|
|General Healthcare||Sudafed Congestion & Healthcare Headache Relief||Johnson & Johnson|
|General Household||Febreze Sleep Serenity||Procter & Gamble|
|Hair Care||Dove Advanced Hair Series Pure Care Dry Oil||Unilever|
|Healthy Yogurt||Müllerlight Greek Style Fruitopolis||Müller Dairy UK|
|Hero Beauty||BD Trade Secrets Dreamshine Highlighter||Tesco Stores Ltd|
|Kids Snack||Harvest Cheweee Cereal Bars||Halo Foods|
|Laundry Additives & Softener||Honeysuckle & Sandalwood||Comfort Creations Unilever|
|Laundry Detergent||Ariel 3 in 1 Pods||Procter & Gamble|
|Laundry Whitener & Stain Removal||Inspired by Colour Catcher||Dylon White’n’Bright Spotless Punch|
|Nappy||Pampers Active Fit||Procter & Gamble|
|Nappy Cream||Sudocrem Care & Protect||Forest Labs|
|Nutritional Drinks||Yogurt Drinks||Benecol Plus Johnson & Johnson|
|Oral Care||Listerine Advanced Defence Gum Treatment||Johnson & Johnson|
|Pet||Felix Sensations Crunchy Crumbles||Nestlé Purina PetCare UK|
|Sauce & Seasoning||Knorr Flavour Pots||Unilever|
|Shampoo||Clairol 5 in 1 Camomile Shampoo||Procter & Gamble|
|Skincare||Pro Formula Radiance Micellar Water||Tesco Stores Ltd|
|Slimming Product||Bootea 14 Day TeaTox Eighty Twenty||Ventures Ltd|
|Spread||Bertolli with Butter||Unilever|
|Technology||Acer Iconia One 7||Acer|
|Toothpaste||Aquafresh Complete Care Toothpaste||GSK|
|Women’s Hair Removal||Pro Formula Satin Smooth Ladies Razor||Tesco Stores Ltd|