Helping challenger brands to explode onto the market

A prestigious food and drink award, particularly one that is voted for independently by consumers and or industry professionals has the power to help a challenger brand explode onto the market and unlock huge sales growth.

Given the surge in the number of different challenger brands entering the UK market right now, competition for these prestigious accolades is tough, but certainly not unachievable if you’ve got a banging food and drink product that is going places.

Whilst new awards do seem to be cropping up all the time, those from highly credible organisations, the awards which have stood the test of time and have genuine consumer pulling-power are the ones that small producers should be setting their sights on.

Here are our ten top tips to help you get your head around what food and drink awards you should enter, how to maximise PR value from being involved and what you need to do when you win! Yes, when you win, not if!


Ask yourself, your friends or a shopper in store if they would be more likely to buy your product if it had an award on-pack from one the awards you’re considering. The chances are the answer will be a resounding yes from everyone, particularly if it’s a reputable award with a quality hallmark, industry accreditation and real consumer recognition. If you would be happy to proudly display the award on-pack, across your social media and shout about it from the hill tops then go for it. Awards like the Quality Food and Drink Awards which have been around for 40 years, have consistently helped small and big producers and retailers create huge PR awareness and shift serious volumes of product. Also consider The Grocer New Product Awards, The Great Taste Awards and depending on your type of food and drink product then the Free From Awards.

You really shouldn’t need to spend a fortune on entering either. Most food and drink award schemes understand that small producers have smaller budgets so entry fees shouldn’t be cost prohibitive. It’s also worth remembering that a few hundred quid to enter could literally transform your brand overnight making it the best money you ever spent. You don’t know until you try and you can also learn so much about your brand, your consumers and your industry from entering, which again can be very valuable indeed.


Writing award entries shouldn’t be particularly onerous or put you off from entering. They are a necessity to help you articulate your brand, its benefits and its USPs, but remember it’s the product itself, the taste, the experience and the packaging that will win you the gong overall. Your product is the hero, the accompanying words and information seal the deal and give you the chance to point out key things like the founder story, provenance, sustainability and CSR credentials.

Make sure you read and understand the criteria fully and you get a real sense of what the judges are looking for. Make sure you enter the right category for your product. Think about what other brands you might be pitted against and then select the sector that enables your product to really shine through above all others.

Working with a copywriter needn’t be expensive and they can help you really bring your brand to life on the page. So, consider what additional help you might need to ensure your entry really pops.


Once the entry is submitted that’s only just the start. Make sure you pay close attention to the timings and the process being followed. For example, you may need to send in product by a certain date. If your product is frozen or chilled then you need to make sure the organisers have facilities to store prior to judging. It’s an obvious one but if judges need to cook or prepare your product, they’ll use the on-pack instructions so make sure these are clear and accurate. Then get the dates for the judging, shortlisting and awards night in the diary early, you don’t want to double book yourself or miss an important opportunity to shout about your involvement.


Shortlisted products are usually announced in good time ahead of the grand award’s announcement. Being shortlisted is a huge achievement and therefore you should use this as a PR opportunity. Use your own social media, website, email footers and PR to promote the fact that you have been shortlisted. Some awards will provide you with a shortlisted product logo, so you’ll want to start using and sharing that as soon as possible. Make sure you engage with the award’s social media channels, use the awards hashtag and show your excitement and pleasure about being shortlisted.


Whilst it’s tempting to think I won’t attend unless I win – you need to think again. Yes, you need to attend the awards. Think about the attendees in the room and the people you will be rubbing shoulders with. They could very well be your potential customers and the people who can help positively influence you and your brand in the future. So, get dressed to impress, network and above all else enjoy the night and what you have achieved to be there.


Remember to engage on social media. Tweet that you are en route and make sure you take a few selfies on the night. You may want to work on your gracious in defeat smile (you can’t win them all) but equally you could very well need to work on your acceptance speech.

If you are highly commended or fortunate enough to be a winner on the night, then you will want to strike whilst the iron is hot and leverage PR opportunities on the night itself. Here’s what to think about.

Every award usually has a media partner so make sure you take advantage of what’s available. From having your picture taken on the stage, a piece to camera in the winner’s room and a quick chat with the award’s reporter on the night. Be bold and be proud you are a winner and make sure you get your moment in the spotlight. Working with a specialist food and drink PR agency partner who knows the awards inside out and what winners can leverage will help you.


The chances are you’re already talking to some of the bigger supermarkets or foodservice operators and you may be fortunate enough to have listings with one or two already. With this new award and credible endorsement of your product you have yet another reason to bang on the doors of the major retailers and operators. They don’t just need to take your word for it now, you have a badge of honour that says consumers and or the industry really rate your product too. Think about some clever and creative ways to get news of the win onto the radar of those customers. Or better still ask Jellybean to help as we’ve done this countless times before and helped brands win new listings.

The Quality Food and Drink Awards is quite unique in that it has dedicated awards for small producers, with the overall winner getting a listing with the Co-op. So that’s worth a look into if you’re serious about getting your product into their stores.


Look around any supermarket or convenience store and you will see quite a few examples of brands proudly displaying and shouting about the food and drink awards that they’ve won. Great Taste Awards, Quality Food and Drink Awards, Retail Industry Awards, Grocer New Product Awards etc. – they all appear on pack, on TV, across social media and in other marketing materials. This tells you everything you need to know about the shelf stand-out and sales pull that using these logos and quality marks delivers for products.

You too should consider how you can best communicate your award win on-pack, on case, through shopper marketing, consumer PR (local, regional and national), trade PR and social media. Working with a specialist food and drink PR and marketing agency like Jellybean will help you to take full advantage of the sales and marketing opportunity across all these touch points.


An award win will certainly bring more credibility to you and your business. It’s something that you must celebrate with your team as getting external recognition will be a proud moment for them too. You will also be able to use this win as an opportunity to get some additional profile in both business and consumer press. Journalists love hearing from award-winning brands and award-winning entrepreneurs, so by bringing this to their attention you can help to generate additional coverage in key media outlets. With a PR plan and agreed media targets you can help spread the word about your product far and wide, opening up new distribution and increased sales.


If you didn’t win first time around, then learn from it and then go again. Awards like the Quality Food Awards give constructive and meaningful feedback and reports which can help you hone your product. If you did win, then you will want to make sure you fill up that trophy cabinet. So, think about the next award you want to go after. Awards are an addictive cycle, once you get into the habit of entering and winning, you will want to keep on doing it. As you bring more innovative products to market you will want to win awards for them too. Have a calendar of awards in place and make time to enter and support each one. It could be the best thing you ever do.

If you’d like to discuss any of the points raised in this guide, please get in touch. Our team at Jellybean have helped clients win a wide range of different food and drink awards over the years including all of these below and many more.

We recently launched jellypad offering a specially tailored suite of PR, marketing, design, digital and social media services for start-ups and challenger food and drink brands – if you’d like to hear more about jellypad and how we can help you to take off in the market, then please do get in touch.

Good luck.