Product of the Year – South Africa’s largest independent consumer-voted survey – celebrated 10 years of rewarding innovation and excellence in the country at its annual awards gala ceremony, held this year at The Maslow Hotel in Sandton, Johannesburg on Thursday 22 February.
Established 30 years ago in France, Product of the Year currently operates in 39 countries. This third-party endorsement programme aims to help clear the clutter for consumers, to guide them and help them find the best new products and services in their market, while also rewarding manufacturers for quality and innovation.
This year’s awards ceremony was a more formal affair as CEOs and other executives across various industry verticals, including the FMCG sector and other important consumer-facing markets such as technology, petrochemicals and health products, attended the formal black-tie gala dinner.
In a celebration of its own heritage, renowned local comedian John Vlismas once again fulfilled the role of emcee on the evening, having 10 years prior officiated the inaugural event. “We were extremely excited to have John back,” says Preetesh Sewraj, CEO and Chief Innovation Analyst at Product of the Year South Africa. “It provided a great element of nostalgia, particularly as he hosted the first five awards ceremonies. We were therefore delighted to have him back to celebrate with us.”
Sewraj adds that 2018 also saw the introduction of another Product of the Year innovation, with the inclusion of the Innovation of the Year Masterclass. “This took the form of a conference held at The Maslow before the awards ceremony, aimed at helping executives and marketing professionals drive the innovation agenda within their organisations,” he explains.
Sewraj believes that this has become a strategic imperative for brands locally as the marketplace becomes more cluttered and a growing number of nimble startups disrupt existing lines of business.
“South Africa has bred a number of industry pioneers who have contributed greatly to global innovation, but those driving the most prolific developments in this regard are generally doing so outside of our country. We therefore want to foster a culture of innovation among our business professionals, entrepreneurs and non-governmental organisations to help them improve the lives of South Africans across the board.”
The inaugural masterclass took the form of an idea-sharing platform. Guest speakers from Nielsen’s Innovation Division and Popimedia, the only local Facebook-approved marketing partner, engaged with invited attendees on the topic of cultivating an innovation mindset within organisations and how to leverage it to succeed in the modern marketplace.
Visit www.poysa.co.za for more information on the Product of the Year category winners, or to register for future Innovation of the Year masterclasses.
During the event Vlismas lent his unique blend of humour to proceedings as the last decade of work done by Product of the Year South Africa was showcased and celebrated, before plans for the next 10 years were shared with attendees.
Vlismas then had the auspicious honour of announcing the category winners for 2018. The results were once again based on the endorsements of 4, 000 consumer households who, after trying and testing the products or services, were surveyed by leading global information and measurement company, Nielsen.
“The 2018 awards were characterised by diversity, as we had a broad spectrum of winners from varied companies, with both local and international brands recognised on the night,” continues Sewraj. “Global icons such as Samsung and LG won awards, with international companies that are headquartered in France, the US and Britain acknowledged alongside home-grown brands like Hug in a Mug and the innovative Seatbelt Medic emergency device, which won the new safety category.” Cookware was also added to the list of categories in 2018, which was won by Tefal Expertise.