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Product of the Year: Smart product innovation can be PR Gold

Convenience shopping has always had fairly unglamorous and functional connotations, but smart and nimble product development and updates can make a real difference to people's everyday lives.

Each January, the announcement of The Product of the Year Awards’ winners acts as a barometer for the most of-the-moment and insightful products that brands have brought to market. As the UK’s largest consumer survey of product innovation, run independently by Kantar TNS with 10,000 shoppers, the awards hold significant sway in indicating what consumers really want.

Last year, this could be seen in wins such as Paul Hollywood’s Belgian Chocolate Brownie Mix, a clear nod to the boom in home baking, driven by popular television shows such as The Great British Bake Off. Beyond that, demand for convenience was evident with the AEG SteamPro Multifunction Oven winning in the Kitchen Appliance category. A space efficient multi-purpose machine, it can cook, bake, sous vide and grill food, meaning it is a brilliant addition to the kitchen counter for time poor consumers and keen home cooks alike.

Product of the Year’s winners prove that convenience doesn’t have to be sexy to be brilliant. It’s about making small but tangible differences to people’s lives. A baby bowl with a suction cup and a lid to stop kids throwing it around it a lifesaver for busy parents and a face cream for day and night wear which can also be used as a face mask, saves money and counter space. Modern convenience should be insightful and responsive, be it a tasty on-the-go free-from snack or something saving you five minutes or £5. This is the sort of product development that wins and retains consumer loyalty.

Those who win have the right to use the Product of the Year logo – a recognisable stamp of approval and one that 86% of consumers say means they are more likely to buy a product. As such, the awards stand out to marketing professionals as an accolade which is particularly meaningful to their brands.

Stuart Ibberson, senior director of marketing at Arla Foods UK, said: "Product of the Year gives us a great platform to share our wonderful products and new innovations, and gives us a bit of kudos in the market – it’s a recognised brand that shows that consumers love our products. When we won last year, the sales increased – we’re very proud to have won such a prestigious award."

Winners also benefit from media coverage generated by the awards themselves. And this year, with an amplified blogger and influencer programme, winners of Product of the Year are set to receive even wider visibility with shoppers.

So how do brands win big at Product of the Year? Whether your product is responding to the drive to reduce plastic packaging or incorporating clever, functional ingredients, it’s all about the convenience they deliver for the end user. From sparkling new flavours, fragrances and recipes to dazzling new electrical and beauty products, above all Product of the Year is looking for meaningful innovations.

Mike Nolan, Product of the Year’s CEO, said: "We want to hear from brands who have launched truly innovative products answering consumer needs. Product of the Year is a great way to make your brand stand out on shelf or add a wow factor to a new product launch, and ultimately boost sales. Each year we’re impressed with the quality of the smart and insightful products that are entered and we are excited to see a whole new raft of innovation this year too."