Canstar Blue launches new awards program focused on innovation and market disruption

Innovative! Gamechanging! Truly revolutionary! Disrupting the market!

Barely a media release lands in my inbox without these catchphrases and buzzwords. The amount of times I’ve heard a product described as an ‘iPad killer’ or an ‘iPhone killer’ — well, half the stock on retail shelves would be on death row had they really been capable of iMurder.

That’s why it’s intriguing to learn that Canstar Blue, the customer satisfactions and ratings organisation, has today launched a new award that actually seeks to determine just how innovative, gamechanging and x-factor-y new products are. Called the Innovation Excellence Awards, these new gongs seek to reward suppliers that invest in designing, engineering and marketing products that add something new, different and purposeful to the market.

Just as the Canstar Blue consumer ratings concept was a spin-off from the company’s original and successful Canstar Gold review of the banking and financial services industries, these new Innovation Excellence Awards are based on a similar prize acknowledging outstanding development in money matters. As a sign of how well-regarded the financial services Innovation awards have become, 2014 saw wins for leading brands like the Commonwealth Bank, Qantas Credit Union and Westpac.

The focus is now on innovation in consumer products and Canstar Blue is starting off its campaign with consumer electronics. Already the brand has received traction for its customer ratings, which have named Panasonic (air conditioning), Electrolux (dryers), Aldi Expressi (coffee machines), Miele (dishwashers) and LG (microwaves) the most satisfying brands among Australian consumers.

“We’re on a mission to find the most innovative appliances and electronic products on the market,” said Canstar Blue Business Unit Leader Megan Doyle. “We’re looking for the latest and greatest products now attracting the attention of Australian consumers.

“We are going to asses both the degree of innovation and the overall impact the product could make. No product or feature is too big or too small to be considered.

“So, if your business has demonstrated true innovation to enhance an existing appliance or electronic product, or even developed a new one, in the last 12 months, we want to hear from you.”

I won’t embarrass the brand by naming them, but I remember once fielding a call from an irate floorcare marketing manager, determined to find out how and why their vacuum cleaner brand had not fared particularly well in one of Canstar Blue’s surveys. This marketer took these customer surveys so seriously, and was so convinced of their products’ superiority, that they couldn’t accept the defeat.

In an industry awash with awards programs, Canstar is looking to differentiate itself by focusing on innovation, as judged by an expert panel. The innovation will be assessed over five variables: Unique, Disruptive, ‘Wow’, Breadth of Impact and Depth of Impact.

All awards come with a cost and, like other programs, winning products will have the opportunity to licence the Canstar Blue logo to use in marketing material. Entry is free and even winners who don’t choose to license the award are still considered the winners.

Eligible products don’t actually have to be designed or manufactured in Australia; they just need to be available for purchase. Entry for the awards is via an online form  and its closes on Friday 15 August 2014 and winners will be announced in September.

This author is on Twitter: @Patrickavenell

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