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    Consumers Pick the Most Innovative Products on Store Shelves

    The "Product of the Year" program debuts in the United States, with 16 winners named.

    At a ceremony atop Rockefeller Center in New York City last week, 16 products from eight consumer products goods companies were honored as winners of the inaugural "Product of the Year" (POY) USA program.

    Voted on by over 100,000 U.S. consumers, the following products won the right to display the Product of the Year logo in 2009:

    AIR CARE: Oust Surface Disinfectant & Air Sanitizer (SC Johnson)
    BEVERAGES: Canada Dry Green Tea Ginger Ale (Dr Pepper Snapple Group)
    BODY CARE: Olay Spa Exfoliating Ribbons Body Wash (Procter & Gamble)
    CHILD CARE: Similac SimplePac (Abbot Nutrition)
    COSMETICS: COVERGIRL LashBlast Mascara (Procter & Gamble)
    FROZEN FOODS: O Organics Four Cheese Stone Baked Pizza (Better Living Brands/Lucerne Foods)
    HAIR CARE: Pantene Pro-V Beautiful Lengths (Procter & Gamble)
    HOME TECHNOLOGY: Duracell Color Mini Charger (Procter & Gamble)
    HOUSEHOLD PRODUCTS: PUR Flavor Options (Procter & Gamble)
    INSECT REPELLENT: OFF! Smooth & Dry Aerosol (SC Johnson)
    KIDS' NUTRITION: Mott's For Tots (Dr. Pepper Snapple Group)
    MEN'S DEODORANT: Degree Men Absolute Protection (Unilever)
    OTC MEDICINE: Zyrtec (Johnson & Johnson)
    OUTDOOR PRODUCTS: Kelsyus Original Canopy Chair (Swimways Corp.)
    PROFESSIONAL HAIR CARE: Wella System Professional Gloss On (Procter & Gamble)
    WOMEN'S DEODORANT: Degree Women Ultra Clear (Unilever)

    In October 2008, TNS, a leading market information group, polled the thoughts and opinions of more than 100,000 consumers, who voted on over 40 entries from a variety of categories, and ultimately selected the winning products. POY, established 22 years ago in France and now being held in 28 countries, is the largest and most representative consumer-voted program in North America to recognize innovation in the consumer packaged goods arena. By March 2009 in stores nationwide, shoppers will be able to easily find the Product of the Year winners by looking for the distinct red logo on packaging, advertisements, fliers and in-store displays.

    Speaking at the awards dinner last week, Colleen Kelly, managing director of Product of the Year, noted that a recent survey conducted by TNS revealed that displaying the POY logo on a package is 25 percent more effective at generating purchase interest from shoppers than simply displaying the word "new" on a package.

    "The POY program and red logo take out the guesswork, and let people know that a product stands out for its innovation, value and benefit to the consumer," she said.

    Master of ceremonies and official POY spokesman was well-known Supermarket Guru Phil Lempert, who is a regular contributor to Progressive Grocer, The Gourmet Retailer and Convenience Store News, and judges CSNews'  annual Best C-Store New Products Awards program. Lempert has been reviewing and rating products for more than 25 years, and his latest product reviews are always available at www.gourmetretailer.com/hitsandmisses

    "Consumers are inundated more than ever with thousands of products and advertisements vying for attention spans, and a continually changing economy," said Lempert. "There is a fear and hesitancy to spend their hard-earned dollars on products that simply do not deliver. The POY program takes the approval of more than 100,000 shoppers and places it front and center on store shelves for everyone to see."

    David Kieselstein, North American CEO for TNS, told the 250 guests in the audience that the results of this year's survey are especially relevant because the survey was conducted last October, just as the economy began to nosedive.

    He noted some other findings of the survey. "People love free samples. Sampling is a great opportunity to build sales during a down economy," he said, adding, "Amazingly, the No. 1 medium for product information is still magazines, despite the growth of the Internet."

    Entry into the 2009 Product of the Year USA program was open to products launched in the U.S. between January 2007 and August 2008. Products were then reviewed by a panel of industry leaders and influencers to filter the entries and ensure that only innovative products continued to the final round. Each finalist, win or lose, receives a research report developed from the TNS consumer survey in exchange for participation. The finalists were then voted on by consumers to determine the Products of the Year.

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