The GA has almost double the number of entries for Gift of the Year 2017 than it had at the same time last year for the 2016 competition, thanks to a new strategy implemented by chief executive Sarah Ward.
The launch of Gift of the Year three months earlier than usual – and the subsequent product-spotting by staff at trade shows – has enabled The GA to enhance Gift of the Year marketing opportunities for companies and their entries, which are featured on its website (www.ga-uk.org), in printed material and on film and social media.
Said Sarah: “It’s important that suppliers appreciate the return they are receiving on their investment: many companies have entered this year which previously weren’t clear about the criteria. We have taken the time to explain it – and the judging process – and advised on the areas where their product might receive higher exposure. Already, people have been telling us that they consider they are getting great value, which is terrific.”
And she added that because people were designing and introducing new products and going to shows throughout the year, The GA intended to see that there was a strong focus on Gift of the Year at every appropriate trade fair.
“This will ensure that the competition maintains traction and remains high-profile, particularly in the second half of the year and in the run-up to the entry deadline and subsequent awards’ ceremony at Spring Fair in February.”
The GA has been working closely with other trade associations whose members have been submitting their products for the first time. This has resulted in a significant number of entries for the new Fine Jewellery category and the merged Fashion Jewellery and Accessories.
The GA’s talent scouts have been on the look-out for the sort of products that may not have previously featured in the competition or that were from suppliers new to a show. They have also tried to disavow some exhibitors of the notion that their offering might be regarded in a negative way by the judges.
Sarah said that the quality of the Gift of the Year brand had been strengthened by the new graffiti-style stand at Autumn Fair, which had the ‘wow’ factor.
“It intrigued people and they were keen to know more. The result was that some exhibitors said that they now wished to be associated with the competition and enter their products because they wanted them to be loved a little bit more and seen by a wider audience. And even if they didn’t win, they already felt like winners.”
She also stressed that, following the rebranding of The GA, “people are now coming to us and asking if they can join the association”.
“It was crucial in making us less fuddy-duddy and, like the new stand, sits comfortably in our creative industry. We are aware that new people are coming into the industry every day and we have to look approachable and be on their wavelength.
“The GA must also, of course, be careful not to offend members who have been loyal to the association over many years. We have been making great efforts at trade shows to meet as many of them as possible to find out if there are more ways in which we can help them.”