We’ve all seen the “Product of the Year” (POY) label in red on products’ ads and on supermarket shelves. I myself have been invited several times to attend the ceremonies where the different categories’ POY winners are announced. However, I never really knew how the process worked exactly, until I was invited to be a jury member this year and found out about the laborious and comprehensive process to select different POYs every year.

The Process

– From April till November 2016 is the submission window, where you can nominate a product at a provided link.
– After the nomination window is closed in November, the Ethical Committee deliberates and filters the products that qualify for each category
– After the nominees are vetted, a 10,000 consumer survey is run by IPSOS between January and February 2017
– The winners are announced in March of 2017

The Ethical Committee

The ethical committee includes agencies and institutions that deal directly with consumers, as well as regulatory, technical and educational institutions. This year’s ethical committee includes:

– ALBA university
– USJ — Faculte de Gestion et de Management
– The Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture of Beirut and Mount Lebanon
– International Advertising Agency — Lebanon Chapter
– Association of Lebanese Industrialists
– RDCL — Association of Lebanese Businessmen
– Advertising Association Lebanon
– Syndicate of Lebanese Food Industries
– Syndicate of Lebanese Chemical Industries
– Syndicate of Importers of Foodstuff Consumer Products and Drinks in Lebanon
– HORECA Hospitality Services

Our Jury Day

All the products that were nominated were present, and we had pens and notepads to note down what we thought about each product upon closer inspection. The key aspect we were focusing on is how innovative the product was and how much the makers focused on innovation in their different categories. After all, what makes one product stand out from all its competitors is of course quality, consistency and delivering what is promised on the packaging and ads, but also, how much they’ve added to evolving their specific industry or the demand they are supplying to.

After every product was inspected, inside and out, the list of finalists will be compiled after the questionnaires by experts and jury members are tallied. After that, comes the consumer survey next month, when over 10,000 Lebanese consumers will be quizzed about the different products and their buying habits. In March, you’ll have the entire list of products that earned the “Product of the Year” tag this year.

What I learned from this process is that it’s actually a lot more complicated than I thought it was. It’s also a great way to foster healthy competition between brands to make sure they bring something new or extra to the table each year. Next time I see “Product of the Year” tag, it’ll have a lot more weight for me when I’m having trouble choosing between two similar products in a hurry to beat mall traffic!