Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Product of the Year

While leafing through my issue of Advertising Age magazine, an insert caught my eye. Partly because of the red, white and black color scheme and partly because of the large logo like the one at left--only bigger. You might have seen this logo in print ads of various products and maybe it influenced your decision to buy a product. Anyway, I thought it was odd that a so-called Consumer Survey of Product Innovation would be inserted into a publication on advertising--especially touting its ability to increase sales--so I did a little reading and here's how it works:

Basically a company can submit their product into a yearly "contest." There's no entry fee, but the product should demonstrate innovation in one or more areas including design, function and packaging. So far, so good. Then a panel of judges ("distinguished industry professionals") reviews the entries and selects finalists to ensure "only innovative products go on to the final round." According to the info provided, 22% of entries are eliminated which means 78% of entrants make it to the final round. Those are pretty good odds!

The reward for becoming a finalist? $25,000. Uh, wait--that's a $25,000 finalist FEE. Yup, winners pay $25 grand for the privilege of being a finalist. But wait, that's not all! Finalists receive a research report valued at $80,000!!! That's so much better than the extra set of Ginsu knives thrown in FREE! So, once you're a finalist, your product gets voted on by a panel of 100,000 shoppers (recruited to represent a fair sample from all regions as well as a wide range of demographics) who decide which products are the best in each category. Well, that sounds more impartial...Consumers rank the products on a variety of factors including innovation, usage and satisfaction.

So, since it's "Product of the Year" there's only one winner, right? Uh, no. Truthfully it probably should be called "Products of the Year" since there are multiple categories there are multiple winners. There's a category for shower gels, instant glue, hair dye, pasta sauce, pizza, drinks, bakery, convenience food, snacks, pet food, insect control, men's grooming, women's hair removal, feminine care, facial skin care, make-up, body care, anti-aging, self-tanning, sun care, hair styling, shampoo, battery, surface cleaner, air freshening, dishwasher, laundry, baby, oral hygiene to name some. Obviously quite a few chances to win. And what do the winners get?

They get the right to display the "Product of the Year" logo in their advertising and on their product for a full year. For a small licensing fee of $90,000. Since the award claims sales increases of 13% for the winner of the pizza category and 40% for shower gel category, it seems a small investment to make. So the contest sponsor wins, the winners win and the consumers? Well, they get duped into thinking they made a smart buying decision by selecting a product of the year winner when all that logo really means it that the company who made the product can afford $115,000 to pay to be a finalist and the licensing fee.

1 comment:

  1. Very interesting. Thanks for the in depth view.

    I came on the net specifically looking for what exactly was involved in becoming "product of the year" and it's pretty much as expected.