Entering and hopefully winning awards in any industry can be a really effective way to gain awareness and increase perception of your product + brand. In the Food & Drink industry, it holds even more weight!
Having an award against your name certifies the quality of your product for consumers and distributors alike – offering a gateway into shelf space and rate of sale.
When entering awards though, it’s important to understand exactly what the judges are looking for and how you will be judged – to give you the best possibility of coming out victorious. It may come to some as a surprise that although taste is extremely important when judging food & drink products, there are a host of other criteria entrants are marked against – with many brands missing out on taking the top prize even when they have a superior tasting product.
I was fortunate enough to be a judge for The Grocer’s New Product Awards recently. The judging panels were made up of industry experts, food aficionados, and trade press.
During the process I found it very interesting as to how awards were reviewed and discussed, and especially how the different types of judges focused on different aspects of the Award Entries. It aligned my thinking of how to write award entries in the future, and I wanted to share some of the insight that I gathered to help brands in the future…
Taste is what all of the judges wanted to rate the products on, and there was definitely sway in some of the other criteria when something tasted ABSOLUTELY amazing – but it is not the only thing that was voted on in the NPA’s (in fact it was only one of 10 criteria being marked against – with all having an equal weighting) – so be sure that award entries are written with care and each question answered thoroughly.
Category selection is always an important facet of entering awards, but in Food & Drink Awards you are usually confined to the type of product you are entering (breakfast, vegan, snacking, etc.). With this in mind, it might seem that not much consideration should go into which categories you enter into – however, it is important to note that the products available in each category varies widely. In the breakfast category for example you could have an indulgent product like a bacon sandwich going up against a staple product such as porridge or muesli…
In this situation – no matter what the quality of a porridge product would be – a judge is likely to score the indulgent product higher because of it’s inherent tastiness.
The more niche a category you can find, the better chance you have of winning it.
3. Innovation + Market Fit
In the New Product Awards, we were able to try a host of products that had been recently launched. As such, an area of particular importance when judging entrants was to understand and rate why this product had been created.
There were multiple occasions where this section was noticeably neglected by products that had created a great product, but didn’t really know how it was for.
All you need is a bit of marketing noise here, just make sure that a clear description of who your market is, and how your product has used innovation to deliver a need that isn’t being met for them.
Throughout the process, the judges are required to be inherently critical. It comes with the territory… This means that any hint of vagueness, confusion or weakness in a product can be jumped on, discussed at length and ultimately can result in multiple criteria being marked down.
The best way to combat this is to initially be hypercritical of your product, and then ensure your award entry includes rationale and reasoning for any possible negative that the judge might latch onto – e.g. lots of different typography on the packaging = to illustrate the diverse taste profile, leaves a nagging aftertaste = designed to maintain a long lasting flavour that’s hard to shake!
The final piece of advice, and probably the most important, is to make sure that the best person possible is writing the award. I saw so many entries that had clearly been written – and I use that term lightly – by a junior member of a PR agency who has copied and pasted the majority of it from the brand guidelines.
Awards are important, and should be resourced accordingly.
Good luck + if anyone does ever want any hints and tips.. please feel free to reach out to me directly!
The Grocer New Product Awards celebrate and reward outstanding innovation in the UK FMCG sector in both branded non-food and food & drink categories. Attracting a broad spectrum of entrants from some of the UK’s largest FMCG suppliers to the most exciting start-ups, these awards are highly coveted, positioning winners as the best in the grocery business…
The awards will take place on Tuesday 15th November at Hilton Bankside , London.
2021 finalists of The Grocer’s NPA’s can be viewed here
2021 winners can be viewed here