Why Industry Awards make everyone a winner - entrants, judges, retailers and customers!

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As it's the final day of Spring Fair for another year, I've been reflecting on the highlights. Particularly the fantastic Gift of the Year Awards Ceremony on Sunday evening and the attention the winners' display in the Spring Fair concourse has attracted! I've been thinking why doesn't every supplier or manufacturer enter at least one eligible product for an industry award... every year?

As an industry we know that new product is its life blood; at any show you exhibit at it is likely that the first question a buyer will ask is ‘what have you got that is new’? Not because they cannot think of anything else to say - it's because that is how they hope to keep one step ahead of their competitors by having something new and different to entice their customers into their store.

Trading this Christmas was tough and as the retail market both on the high street and online gets more competitive, having fresh new product will become more and more critical for everyone in the retail supply chain.

Given that the entry criteria for most retail awards is 'new in the market', as a supplier why wouldn’t you be entering your best products if they are eligible?  For you it is a very inexpensive marketing exercise which allows you to present your product to interested buyers, some of whom you may have been wanting to get in front of for years! If your product is shortlisted or you are lucky to be a finalist, then the market exposure linked to the awards really start to kick in. For example, many entrants have been commenting on what a difference the GOTY halo makes to their whole business - not just the product selected. The PR opportunities are huge because lets face it - everyone loves to read a good news story!!

For judges the benefits are significant too, to have the opportunity to review a focussed group of products before your competitors, many of which might be relevant to your customers,  puts you on the front foot. As an awards judge for many years for many different events I have found important new suppliers and products because of my judging. It opens your eyes to all sorts of products and market sectors you may not have considered relevant before. I know when I have walked the floor at Spring Fair I often see fellow judges on stands of suppliers they spotted at the awards who are new to them and we give each other knowing looks as we know why one another are there!!

As a retailer who may not be a judge this year, I would say review the products selected as finalists this year; your peers felt they were worthy of note and while you may not agree with all of them there may be one or two gems there for you too.

So as growing retail sales becomes more challenging I would suggest that industry awards have an increased relevance for suppliers, retailers and our customers. Wherever you are in the supply chain use this year’s industry awards to your advantage.

As this Spring Fair draws to a close, I would like to thank the team at the Giftware Association: Sarah, Simone, Luke, Chris and Callum, who have worked so hard to organise this year's GOTY awards from launch in July to the awards at Spring Fair, and indeed the displays you have seen around the show this week.

Please help spread the word about industry awards; when you think of all the new products you will see at the trade fairs this year we could have 10,000 entries and it would still only be a small proportion of the products that would be eligible to enter. If you are a supplier or manufacturer who did not enter this year, think about the products you are bringing to market this year and make a note in your diary in July to enter the awards for 2019!