Canadian Grand Prix New Product Awards – Credible or Not?

This week the winners of the Canadian Grand Prix New Product Awards were announced at a gala in Toronto. The list included some neat products for sure, but I have always had the feeling that these awards were not really reflecting the consumer’s choices in the marketplace.

It all goes back to my time working inside a big CPG supplier and being invited to one of these “galas” to accept an award as part of a team that worked on a new product that we had launched the previous year.

My first revelation was that the crowd was all industry types. Not a regular consumer to be seen. To be honest, as the awards were being doled out that night I got the feeling that this was simply an industry love-in to let CPG and PL producers place an extra logo on their less than extraordinary products.

Second, I realized that the awards had no real consumer connection at all except a few token shoppers thrown into the room with “industry experts”.

Every year since then, I have silently stewed about these awards and how artificial they seem having seen the interior guts of this PR machine.

Awarded by the Retail Council of Canada (and formerly the Canadian Council of Grocery Distributors) the “entries are evaluated by a 32-member jury comprising consumers, food editors, journalists, advertising executives, packaging designers and members of the grocery industry” according to the RCC press release.

In the age of rampant social media, including a specific social media website in the US targeted at providing consumer reviews of CPG products ( one has to ask why the top new products in Canada being doled out by only 32 panelists – most of whom are industry insiders?

Why not engage real consumers to nominate their favorite products and vote on the finalists just like professional sports leagues like the NHL and NBA select their all-star teams?

Part of the problem is that there are awards given in 26 categories and I think that most consumers on the street would fail to name three of the products that won awards if they were prompted to name new CPG products that they loved.

In fact, I only recognized seven of the award winners and I work in the industry and I am in grocery stores almost every day of the year.

Yes, this approach has its flaws, including obsessive “voters” that distort results but at least it would be grassroots in nature and not a corporate self-congratulation machine.

The Canadian Grand Prix New Product Awards are a 1990’s marketing gimmick that must update itself or move out of the way of new technologies and true consumer sentiment about their favorite CPG products.

Fewer more meaningful awards selected by real consumers. That would be something to rave about.


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