Wednesday, February 23, 2011

And the Winner Is...

Every year, consumers come across innovative products that we didn't even know we needed! Yet, they are such a fantastic addition to the marketplace that they not only thrive, but are also recognized for their contribution to society.

Just weeks ago, the 2011 Product of the Year Awards were announced in New York City, where the Product of the Year committee honored the year's best consumer packaged goods products in a variety of categories.

How are the winners chosen? The Product of the Year committee accepts entries every year from consumer packaged goods that were launched within the previous 12 months and demonstrate extreme originality. Entered products are placed into specific categories such as food, beverages, personal care, household care, and so on, with an item then chosen as a winner in its category through a nationally representative online study of 60,000 consumers conducted by global market research company TNS. Products are judged on elements of innovation such as ingredients, form, function and design.

Without further ado, say hello to the 2011 Product of the Year Award winners in the food and beverage categories!

Candy & Snacks: M&M'S Pretzel Chocolate Candies, Mars Chocolate North America

Frozen Food: Lean Cuisine Market Creations, Nestlé USA

Specialty Foods: Buitoni Riserva Frozen Complete Meals for Two, Nestlé USA

Cooking Spices: Recipe Inspirations, McCormick & Co. Inc.

Beverage: Lipton Brisk, Pepsi-Lipton Partnership

Breakfast: Jimmy Dean Hearty Sausage Crumbles, Sara Lee

Cooking: Olivari Mediterranean Olive Oil, Sovena USA

Established 25 years ago in France and now present in 28 countries, Product of the Year is the world's largest consumer-voted award for product innovation in consumer packaged goods. 2011 marks the third annual round of the program in the United States.

The Product of the Year seal serves as a shortcut for shoppers, helping them find the best of the best in the supermarket. Winning products are announced in February of each year and receive the right to use the Product of the Year seal in marketing communications for one year.

Tell me, have you tried any of these winning products? Leave a message with your thoughts, or share what products you’ve already seen that you hope thrive at next year's awards!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Nibble on This: It's National Snack Food Month!

If you've been in the mood for a bite to eat in between meals lately, take full advantage this month! February is National Snack Food Month, a chance to celebrate potato chips, pretzels, popcorn, nuts, fruit snacks, cookies, and everything in between for a full 28 days.

In February 1989, the Snack Food Association joined forces with the National Potato Promotion Board to increase snack food consumption and build awareness of snacks during a month when snack food consumption was traditionally low.

According to The Food Channel, chips and dip topped the top ten snack trends of 2010. From Frito-Lay to all-natural popchips, named one of America's hottest brands by Advertising Age, potato chips are always the perfect way to snack.

Of course, nuts are also a popular salty choice as consumers look for healthier ways to snack. Emerald Nuts offers a line of breakfast pouches to enjoy on the go, while Planters introduced its Flavor Grove varieties last year in taste sensations like Chili Lime and Cracked Pepper with Onion and Garlic.

For sweet eaters, yogurt has gained in popularity as Greek yogurts like Chobani, FAGE, and Yoplait have become more prominent in stores. Probiotic yogurts for those seeking to improve their digestive health have also become more prevalent with brands like Activia and Yo-Plus lining grocery shelves.

And finally, no discussion of snack foods would be complete without paying homage to snack cake legends like Hostess (now with Strawberry CupCakes!), Little Debbie, and Tastykake.

Every year, the Snack Food Association hosts SNAXPO, the world's largest, most comprehensive trade show devoted exclusively to the international snack food industry. This year's event will take place March 20-23. Be on the lookout next month for articles and information regarding new snacks and innovative flavors that will hit grocery stores in the coming year.

How will you honor National Snack Food Month? Drop me a line and tell me about your favorite snack!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Super Ads Dominate Super Bowl

Super Bowl XLV is now in the record books. The February 6 game drew in an average of 111 million viewers and now holds the title as the most-watched show in TV history, making a $3 million 30-second ad buy seem worth the hefty price tag. While audiences tuned in to watch the Green Bay Packers battle the Pittsburgh Steelers, many were more interested in seeing the innovative commercials companies created for the big game. Of course, several food and beverage consumer packaged goods companies were represented throughout Sunday's game.

This year, PepsiCo's Doritos and Pepsi MAX put out a call for consumer-created ads in a Crash the Super Bowl contest that attracted more than 5,600 submissions. Fans voted online from among the top 10 finalist spots chosen by the company, and the top the vote getters for each brand aired during the Super Bowl.

PepsiCo's formula worked; the Doritos ad "Pug Attack" tied for the number one spot on the USA TODAY Ad Meter, with three others earning a spot on the newspaper’s list – a first in Super Bowl advertising history!

Other CPG companies also scored big with consumers. The Brand Bowl, presented by public relations firm Mullen and social media monitoring platform Radian6, kept tabs on what the public thought about the Super Bowl ads through Twitter tweets and sentiment. While Doritos and Pepsi MAX received high marks here as well, Lipton Brisk Iced Tea and Coca-Cola also earned accolades for their spots.

Finally, this year's Snickers commercial was apparently one to watch over and over again! The ad featuring comedians Richard Lewis and Roseanne Barr was the most popular Super Bowl ad this Sunday, based on the number of TiVo users who rewound it and viewed it multiple times.

What did you think? What were the best Super Bowl ads this year?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Love is in the Air

February is here, which means Valentine's Day is just around the corner! On February 14, what gifts will you give to the ones that you love? The National Confectioners Association says that more than 36 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolate will be sold for Valentine's Day. Manufacturers are ramping up production and introducing new candies for this year's holiday. Take a look at the new sweets you can give to your sweet this Valentine's Day.

The Hershey Company hopes your family and friends enjoy chocolate, dressing up its classic favorites in festive red and pink foils and decorated Valentine's Day-themed heart boxes. In addition to original, almond, and caramel Kisses you'll also find special dark mildly sweet and cherry cordial crème Kisses this season.

If your significant other prefers pure sugary goodness over chocolate, Just Born rolled out two new products in time for February 14. Look for Mike and Ike Passion Mix and new Hot Tamales Untamed Love Mix in the candy aisle.

For students and teachers looking for an alternative to the tried and true Valentine's cards, retailers are stocking Kellogg's Pop-Tarts Mini Crisps bags, perfect for classroom exchanges.

New research holds good news for stores selling Valentine's Day goods: Industry research firm IBISWorld forecasts spending for the holiday will top $18.6 billion, a 5.8 percent jump over last year's sales.

Time will tell if these projections will hold true. In the meantime, take a moment to vote and tell me what you plan to buy for your Valentine this year!