Product awards: FMCGs raise the bar as private label enters innovation race

Australia’s FMCG manufacturers raised the bar on innovation at last night’s Product of the Year awards in the face of increasing consumer caution towards new brands and growing trust and quality of private label offerings.

Hundreds of new supermarket products fought it out across 34 categories for the right to own a Product of Year badge for 2013, in a field which showed innovation returning to a healthy state, according to the award program’s director Sarah Connelly.

“The quality of the products has got significantly better over the past few years,” Connelly told Marketing ahead of the awards dinner in Sydney last night. “This year we’ve got stuff that’s never been seen before… there’s certainly more ‘breakthrough’ innovation.”

The heightened quality of innovation, such as Philips Sonicare Airfloss which took out top honour overall in the awards, come in response to mounting pressure as the supermarket giants start to invest in breakthrough innovations of their own.

“This year we had a lot of entries from private label, which are becoming incredibly innovative in their own right and not necessarily trying to follow but are now paving their own way and make their own brands,” Connelly added, pointing to Woolworths’ Macro wholefood gluten and dairy-free dips and gluten free cookies, as well as two winners from Aldi.

Product of the Year 2013
Overall Product of the Year winner Philips Sonicare Airfloss, and category winners Woolworths’ Macro Wholefoods Market – Free From Dairy Dips and ALDI’s Blackstone – Tortilla Corn Chips.
 

Private label continues to grow its market share through tiered product strategies and more sophisticated packaging mimicking branded products, which is helping to improve perceptions of quality around their offerings.

The study of around 11,600 Australian shoppers behind the awards, conducted this year by Nielsen, found 94% of households have now purchased private label brands.

“Private label is upping its game – the quality is higher, their innovation is better and they’re across a whole lot more categories than they used to be,” Connelly commented. “People are just looking for value and they’re turning to private label products because they’re starting to feel it’s a better quality and generally a better price point.”

Philips Sonicare Airfloss, an alternative flossing similar which make a similar experience to air blast cleaning at the dentist available to the public, took out the overall Product of the Year honour. Other original concepts to win included Vaseline Aloe Fresh SPF Hydrating Lotion, a light body moisturiser that also offers sun protection, Helga’s Thins, a new take on bread and the Queen Chocolate Mill, a chocolate grater.

Several new brands, such as category winners Birch & Waite Stir Fry Sauces range, a preservative-free ready-to-use sauce, and Belvita Breakfast Biscuits from Kraft, which introduces the concept of a breakfast biscuit to Australia, however the focus still remains on extending already existing brand names.

Category winners Kraft’s Belvita Breakfast Biscuits, Queen’s Chocolate Mill and Vaseline’s Aloe Fresh SPF Hydrating Lotion.
 

In the current climate, consumers are trying to save and make smart choices making them more likely to go with names they recognise, Connelly pointed out. “There are a few more new brands coming through, but it’s a lot easier to leverage off an existing brand and people are reticent to try a totally new thing,” she said. “New products from companies consumers know is the safer shopping option and why companies tend to stick with existing brands.”

The awards expanded into small appliances this year — won by Breville’s Fast Slow Cooker which combines the two cooking techniques in one appliance — and plans are on the table to expand into larger whitegood appliance and telecommunications next year.

The full list of winners from the awards includes:

  • SPECIALTY BISCUITS: Belvita Breakfast Biscuits
  • BEVERAGES: Berri – Be By Berri
  • BODY LOTION: Vaseline – Aloe Fresh SPF Hydrating Lotion
  • CHOCOLATE CONFECTIONARY: Cadbury – Dairy Milk Marvellous Creations
  • COOKING & BAKING: Queen – Chocolate Mill
  • DENTAL CARE: Sensodyne – Repair & Protect Toothpaste
  • DENTAL HYGIENE: Philips Sonicare – AirFloss
  • DIPS & DRESSING: Macro Wholefoods Market – Free From Dairy Dips
  • DISHWASHING: Finish – Quantum 20s
  • FEMALE GROOMING: BIC – Soleil Savvy
  • FRESH BAKERY: Helga’s – Sandwich Thins
  • FROZEN DESSERTS: Streets – Blue Ribbon 3in1
  • GENERAL GROCERY: Safcol – Responsibly Fished Tuna
  • GENERAL HOUSEHOLD: Mortein – Automatic Indoor Control System Odourless
  • HAIR CARE: Schwarzkopf Extra Care – Daily Oil Elixir
  • HAIR COLOUR: Schwarzkopf Permanent Colour – Shake It Up Colour Foam
  • HAIR STYLING: Schwarzkopf Extra Care – Instant Volume Powder
  • HEALTH AND WELLBEING: Panadol – Optizorb
  • HOUSEHOLD CLEANING: Vanish Preen – PowerPowder
  • KIDS SNACKS: SPC – Fruit Crush-ups
  • LAUNDRY: Vanish Napisan – PowerShots Gel Caps
  • MALE GROOMING: BIC – Hybrid 4 Advance
  • MALE SKINCARE: Nivea for Men – Q10 Skin Energy Face Wash
  • MILK & DAIRY: Kraft – Cheese Blends
  • PET CARE: VIP Petfoods – Fussy Cat Grain Free+
  • PREPARED MEALS: Woolworths – Ready To… Range
  • SAUCE & CONDIMENTS: Birch & Waite – Stir Fry Sauce Range
  • SAVOURY SNACKS: ALDI Blackstone – Tortilla Corn Chips
  • SEXUAL HEALTH: Durex – Play Perfect Glide Lubricant
  • SKINCARE: Garnier – Dark Spot Corrector
  • SMALL APPLIANCE: Breville – Fast Slow Cooker (BPR200)
  • SMALL GOODS & MEATS: Berg – Ham Value Pack (4x100g)
  • SOUPS: Continental – Cup-a-Soup Sensations
  • SWEET SNACKS: Macro Wholefoods Market – Gluten Free Cookie Bars