Australian consumers have spoken - with over 9,000 shoppers casting their votes on favourite supermarket products in the annual Product of the Year Awards 2021 (POY), via Nielsen research.
As the world’s largest consumer based awards program (operating in over 40 countries and now in its 12th year in Australia), POY recognises product innovation, serving as a shortcut for shoppers, saving them time and money.
"All the products entered are put through a rigorous review process with a jury panel. The jury scores are then collated to create a shortlist that is then reviewed and voted on by Australian shoppers," Product of the Year director, Sarah Connelly told BD.
"Those who meet all the criteria go into the consumer research. The product that receives the highest index score in their category is crowned the winner and receives a POY Award for the following year."
This year there has definitely seen a trend, with shoppers giving a nod to healthier, plant-based products - 8 out of 29 winners sitting amongst the vegetarian/vegan and health food categories.
With a range of meat-free, vegan or natural health food alternatives selected as winners, it is very clear that as we head into 2021, many shoppers will be highly conscious of their diets, and will seek a more plant-based and healthier lifestyle.
"Interestingly, for the first time in POY history, we have seen so many plant-based and vegan products enter and successfully win an award, as well as our first ever alcohol-free spirits winner, which really demonstrates consumers’ desire to explore healthier alternatives and create more balanced diets," said Connelly.
"With products including meat alternatives, plant-based snacks and meals, and vegan desserts, this year’s winners list really demonstrates that Australia is catching up with the global movement to be eating and drinking more mindfully and wanting to make better lifestyle choices overall."
This sentiment is also backed by recent Roy Morgan research revealing that nearly 2.5 million Australians have either completely moved to a vegetarian diet, or are close to doing so. Additionally, industry experts project that the meat-free sector will exceed $25 billion by 2030.
There were also some interesting takeaways in the beauty and health categories, specifically around purchasing trends.
"This year, all of our beauty product winners are brands sold exclusively through Coles Supermarkets, which we believe is a strong indicator that shoppers (particularly female) feel more confident purchasing their beauty and wellbeing products from their local supermarkets as part of their weekly shopping trip," said Connelly.
"It’s great to see supermarket chains like Coles really step up to fill this demand and provide innovative and affordable products ready for customers. The KOi range, which has been a real highlight in this year’s winners pool, has taken out the top spots for their natural body lotion, hand cream and hand soap."
Winners taking home top spots in the beauty and health categories include:
Skincare - LPO Rewind Age Defence Night Cream
Hand Wash - KOi Jasmine & Sandalwood Hand Wash
Hand Care - KOi Neroi & Clary Sage Hand Wash
Body Care - KOi Coconut & Jojoba Body Butter
Beauty and Cleansers - LPO Purify Foaming Gel Cleanser
Dental Care - TePe GOOD(TM)
Health Supplement - Vital Life Health Immune Shot
In terms of what's most important for consumers when purchasing, Connelly told BD she believes COVID-19 has played a big role in the shifting priorities.
"The research we conducted into shopping habits for this POY Awards program with Nielsen uncovered that more than three quarters of consumers are now preferring to buy products that are Australian-made, which has definitely increased this year due to the impact of COVID-19 on Australian businesses and manufacturers," she said.
"While buying local is a very important factor when shopping for products particularly at the moment, shoppers cannot overlook the importance of finding products that align with their values and needs. Whether that is price, ingredient profile or just convenience, shoppers should really evaluate each product for what value it adds to their local shopping trip."
Editor's note: The timing of Product of the Year runs from February entry cycle to winner announcement in November. All of the products awarded will have the opportunity to promote their win through the end of 2020 to the end of 2021.
You can find the full winners list here.