claire nuttal web

It has been a whirlwind of awards judging for me over the past two weeks, including The Grocer New Product Awards, and chairing the panel of judges on the inaugural Good Choice! Awards in the Quality Food and Drink Awards, which focus on ‘healthier’ quality food and drink launches.

I thought it would be worth sharing a few thoughts about the value of the awards, and tips for entering for everyone ranging from new start-ups to retailer own-label brands and big blue-chips.

The value of award entering is becoming increasingly important. With ranges being rationalised left, right and centre, gaining and retaining shelf space is becoming ever more important to brands of all sizes. Awards can play a key role in helping achieve both of these objectives.

Any way in which you can raise your profile above a competitor, navigate consumers’ attention to your brand rather than another, and gain standout at fixture must be worth going for.

Entering awards is a low-risk and low-expense way to potentially win a badge of quality or superiority that will help your brand both in the immediate and longer term to gain status and recognition as a great product. So many other marketing vehicles are much more cash-intensive and not as immediate in their value delivery and return. These awards also have meaning and currency for the trade and buyers as well as for consumers at the fixture. They provide rounded feedback about your brand that is credible and will help sell your brand if you are lucky enough to win.

Both awards I have been involved with are also having a dramatic impact on sales performance. I was told last week that for one own-label product, sales were up 35% to 40% based on having the award on pack!

That said, if you do enter the awards, take note. While 80% of the entries are well-thought through, and carefully backed up with performance data, brand objectives and strategy, at least 20% are very lazily constructed.

If you are spending £100 to £450 to enter, at least bother to fill in the entry form rather than leave the panel of judges to guess or Google your price point or what your packaging looks like! Some product entries don’t even turn up, or the wrong flavour or ranges are sent through!

In a budget-pressured and tricky time for brands to stand out and get noticed, make sure you do not miss out. The Good Choice! Awards had a great number of healthy entries, as did The Grocer NPD awards, but so many brands I would have loved to see in there were absent.

My advice would be, you have to be in it to win it. Plan ahead for 2016!

Claire Nuttall is founder of The Brand Incubator