Charulata Ravi Kumar, CEO, Product of the Year, India, said: The concept started 24 years ago in France. The idea is to try and bridge the gap between the marketer and the consumer, particularly for new product launches. Even in a country like India and in most of the other countries as well, around 75% of product launches fail, primarily because consumers dont want to try a new product. For them, a new product advertisement is good and exciting but they just dont want to try it. And thats a huge problem because companies spend so much money on research and development. Product of the Year was meant to be a hook where consumers vote face to face and tell us what they think about the innovations. And I think apart from retail audit, this is the largest survey of its kind.
The process begins by companies registering their entries, for which they pay Rs 4 lakh per product. Product of the Year in India receives over 100 entries every year. The entries are shortlisted by a panel of jury members. Product of the Year has tied up with Nielsen in India, who conducts a consumer survey. The sample size of the survey is nearly 30,000 consumers and is done across 36 markets.
Primarily, consumers are quizzed about what they think of a product in terms of its innovations.
They are also asked to map out suggestions in terms of how products can be more innovative, effective, useful, and so on. Nielsen completes the survey by end of January or early February each year, following which the results are announced. Each category has only one winner. However, the number of categories varies from year to year. In 2008-2009, there were 26 winners, in 2009-2010, there were 36 winners and the names of the 2010-2011 winners will be announced next year. The winners get to flaunt the Product of the Year tag in their packaging or in their various advertising activities. Winners of the past years claim that on average, their sales increased by 10-15% by using the Product of the Year tag.
The event has attracted leading corporates, with participation from Dove, Garnier, GoodKnight, Videocon, Lipton, HDFC, LG, Axe, HP Desktops, Ponds, Nivea, Nokia, Samsung, Britannia and many others. Over the last three years, the event has seen an increase in the number of entries by 10-15%.
India has come to the forefront of innovation in several categories. Product of the Year is an excellent platform to give our products national and global recognition. This has given our consumers a compelling reason to choose us as the preferred washing machine, said Venugopal Dhoot, chairman, Videocon Industries.
In another instance, Niveas Men Advanced Whitening Moisture, one of the winners of the previous chapter of the Product of the Year saw a substantial growth in sales. Said Soma Ghosh, marketing director, Nivea India: The claim strengthened the consumer belief in the brand and internal sales for the brand grew by 35%.
Consumer validation is a key yardstick in evolved market like the US, Europe, Korea, Australia and other markets. While still nascent in India, it is fast becoming a critical differentiators, said Ravi Kumar.
Sam Balsara, chairman & MD Madison World, who is a part of the jury this year isnt very satisfied with the level of innovation. He said: From whatever little I saw, I must say I wasnt terribly excited with the innovations that I saw in the real sense of the word. The Tata Photon Card which enables me to get a television channel on my laptop at Rs 4 a month, seems like a fantastic idea. In FMCG, most of the entries are from soap and shampoo brands; I didnt see too much of product or packaging innovation. However he also admitted, that if a tool helps a product in differentiating itself from others, then Product of the Year can be an effective medium.