Past winners share stories of success
When Bayer created its new One A Day Natural Fruit Bites Multivitamins, the company was confident it had a special product to add to its portfolio — so confident, in fact, that they entered the multivitamins in the 2020 Product of the Year (POY), the largest consumer-voted award for product innovation.
“What makes Fruit Bites so unique is that unlike other pills or gummy vitamins, these are a new form of multivitamin where real, farm grown apples are the very first ingredient,” says Teresa Gonzalez Ruiz, vice president of marketing, nutritionals and digestive health for Bayer. “In addition to its unique design, Fruit Bites are free of ingredients you don’t want, such as high fructose corn syrup, synthetic colors, gelatin, artificial sweeteners or flavors, and GMOs. We believed that this product line was truly an innovation in its category.”
US consumers agreed.
Bayer’s One A Day Natural Fruit Bites Multivitamins emerged victorious in the VMS (Vitamins, Minerals & Supplements) Category. That product was just one of the 2020 POY award winners from the list of 41 unique product categories that included Laundry Booster, Feminine Care, Dog Care, Immediate Relief, Surface Wipes, Toothpaste, and Hair Care to name a few.
Del Monte Foods’ Contadina Pizzettas was another. The preservative-free, bite-sized pizza snacks made with Contadina Roma tomato sauce, real cheese and a whole wheat, cauliflower and basil crust were recognized the frozen snack category winner.
The company entered the Pizzettas because they offered a better-for-you, high-quality alternative to similar snacking products on the market (every five bites provide one full serving of vegetables and 10 grams of protein), and meshed with today’s healthy eating trend, according to Praveen Sevugan, Del Monte’s senior associate brand manager. “We felt the product met consumers’ needs and that we had a fighting chance to win in a very competitive space,” Sevugan says.
Product of the Year was established over 30 years ago to guide consumers to the best products in their market and reward manufacturers for quality and innovation. What makes the award unique — and so effective — is that winners are determined by the votes of 40,000 consumers in a nationally representative survey conducted by Kantar, a global leader in consumer research.
“The independent Kantar survey is the bedrock of what we do,” explains Mike Nolan, Product of the Year’s global CEO and founder. “We have no influence over who wins—it is why shoppers and retailers alike trust it. There are hundreds of new products being introduced at a time and they all claim to be ‘new and improved.’ At its heart, the award exists to help shoppers through that tyranny of choice. Everyone is in favor of using good products—they just want to know how to find them.”
The award doesn’t only benefit shoppers; it arms companies that manufacture the winning products with a powerful marketing tool, too. Winners get full inclusion in the national PR campaign, which generates a minimum of 500 million media impressions annually. They also can promote the win and use the POY logo for two full years.
“The Product of the Year award helps us drive the message that our new product is unique in the category, allowing it to truly stand out among other multivitamin brands,” says Gonzalez Ruiz, who notes the company leveraged the POY seal on the brand’s e-commerce pages, in circular ads, and on in-store shelf talkers and display units. “Our team is leveraging the award by including the logo across various marketing efforts, in addition to sharing the recognition with consumer-facing top-tier media and incorporating the news in all brand messaging. Since launching the product and being named Product of the Year, the Fruit Bites portfolio has proven to be popular among consumers of all ages.”
Del Monte also got marketing mileage from the award.
“We used it a lot in our PR efforts, in our sales and marketing communications materials, and in social media posts,” Sevugan reports. “It was really helpful in drawing awareness to the Pizzettas and gave some clout to the product.”
Across categories, the results speak for themselves: Data show that Product of the Year USA winners outperform category sales performance by 38.1%1; that the Product of the Year logo is 25% more effective on a package than the word “New”2; and that coupon redemption consideration increased 24% when the Product of the Year logo was featured in a Free Standing Insert (FSI)3.
With concerns about the pandemic still front-of mind, now is as important a time as ever to introduce and promote new products. As Nolan notes, “People want some treats—they’re self-gifting and they’re interested in a lot of in-home beauty and cooking products that are playing into innovation. And all studies show that companies that innovate during a recession come out better than those that don’t.”
Products launched after January 1, 2019 through December 31, 2020 are eligible to be entered in the 2021 POY Awards; the entry deadline is October 31st. For more information on how to enter, visit productoftheyearusa.com.