Key shopper trends emerge in the 2017 Product of the Year winners

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Healthier items, time-saving personal care products, diverse pet foods and goods with strong waste reduction credentials have topped the list of the most innovative items in the consumer marketplace, according to new research by Product of the Year. With more than 11,600 shoppers choosing the winners across 38 FMCG categories, Product of the Year is the world’s largest annual consumer-voted award for product innovation.

2017 is set to be the year of heightened consumer awareness of what is in their shopping baskets, especially as the media continues to turn its magnifying glass on sugar content. Sugar-free, healthy alternative products received the stamp of approval, such as Tetley’s Super Everyday Tea, which includes B6 and C vitamins, and antioxidant-packed soft drink Sparkling Ice, a more natural soft drink alternative, which won the No Added Sugar category.

An eye-opening trend in this year’s list of winners was the inventive response to waste management across categories as diverse as Healthy Food and Household. Asda’s innovative Wonky Veg Box combats the food waste problem in the UK in a cost-effective way: the box is 30% cheaper than standard vegetables. Taking a fresh approach to the growing concern of battery waste, Energizer’s Recharge Extreme batteries are made from recycled batteries – enabling consumers to make an environmentally friendly purchase.

Functional products with added health benefits will be a key factor in product success this year. The winner of the Protein Cereal category, Weetabix Protein, packs twice as much protein as an egg into a single serving, and Arla BOB’s Milk category win celebrates the product’s combination of low-fat nutrition and semi-skimmed texture and taste.

The free-from trend is set to continue to engage shoppers, making a strong appearance across both the awards’ adult and children’s categories. Vegetable spread giant Flora’s 100% plant-based Freedom Dairy Free Spread addresses the industry’s recent boom, as consumers consciously eat less dairy for health, diet or lifestyle reasons. Kiddylicious wafers, the winner of the Baby Food category, is naturally free-from lactose and gluten, and claims its free-from credentials support a baby’s taste bud development.

The personal care sector experienced a marked change this year, as versatility is king amongst brands. Nivea Daily Essentials 3 in 1 Cleansing Micellar Wipes showcases this multifunctional innovation, whilst Soltan Protect and Repel Sun Lotion combines the benefits of full sun cover and insect repellent, responding to consumer demand for efficient multi-benefit products that save time and space when travelling.

Nestlé Purina Petcare’s two pet food offerings demonstrate another trend becoming more prevalent on 2017’s supermarket shelves: the rise of high-end pet food. Gourmet Cat Soup ensures felines can enjoy an amazing taste experience in an innovative texture and format. In the Dog Care sector, Dentalife Daily Oral Care won the category for its multifunction dog chew, which helps clean teeth, freshen breath and reduce tartar, whilst also containing no artificial colours or flavours. In an increasingly saturated market, it’s clear that shoppers are opting for high-end pet care, and products that offer a strong point of difference triumph.

The FMCG sector is ripe for disruption, and Hyde & Sleep Mattresses’ win of the Mattress category demonstrates how underdog brands can engage shoppers. Hyde & Sleep’s innovative e-commerce model, which allows a 100-day trial period, fits into the increasingly digital mindset of the modern consumer, and does so with ease.

Mike Nolan, CEO of Product of the Year, commented: “Quality remains of paramount importance for shoppers in 2017, across categories as diverse as Men’s Razor to best Mattress. Product of the Year rewards brands that are truly innovative and we are delighted to offer this year’s glittering raft of winners our official stamp of approval for the year.”

“New products are constantly launched in the FMCG sector so it’s crucial that companies do something to stand out against competitors, such as the emerging trend for products with a strong environmentally-friendly footprint. The Product of the Year logo enables companies to instantly differentiate themselves and winners can experience a sales increase of 10-15%, as shoppers trust it as a sure sign of an innovative product.”

Eve Dixon, managing director of FMCG & Retail, at Kantar TNS UK, added: “The most successful products are those that engage shoppers on an emotional level such as; low-fat alternatives, products that aim to actively combat the UK’s waste management issues and those that have time-saving multi-functionality – much like the winners across the personal care sector. These ‘USPs’ or points of difference help consumers navigate the complexity of choice we see in today’s supermarkets, by speaking to them as consumers, but also as people coping with life’s stresses and strains.”

The Product of the Year award ceremony was held at Sheraton Grand on Park Lane and was hosted by comedian Rory Bremner.

With entertainment from X Factor’s Saara Aalto, the evening was attended by some of the biggest players in manufacturing including Mars, Unilever and Procter & Gamble alongside up and coming businesses such as Hyde & Sleep.

Kantar TNS one of the world’s leading research agencies conducted the research, offering an industry sector understanding and collating the survey from more than 11,600 people in the UK and Ireland. They are powered by the latest qualitative techniques, multiple data sources and global experience, all of which is used to help their clients unlock the seemingly ordinary moments that drive extraordinary growth.