What does innovation mean to a 21st Century Mum?

Looking back at all the mums in my family for generations I am trying to understand what makes me different as a 21st Century Mum. It’s not an easy answer. But of all things the way I have embraced the changes and the innovation in products and gadgets has made me understand what it means to be a mother today. 

It’s never been easy to be a mum for any generation. In the past mums had many children. It was hard and relentless even if the children were more supportive and helpful. Even with all the stress caused by the hectic life we lead and the London pace of living, we have an advantage over our mothers and grandmothers. All the technology I now have compared to my mum and grandma, all the fancy products I get to enjoy have made the job much easier. Undoubtably this comes with a pace that can unsettle my inner being from time to time but maybe it’s a little price I have to be pay to be a 21st Century Mum. 

Over the past 10 years I have been part of the amazing panel of judges at the Product of the Year Awards and I have been involved in the selection process of the most innovative products for the past year. You can call it a big marketing exercise but it is primarily a great way to encourage innovation and development in the market. In fact thanks to the Product of The Year selection process, companies are forced to keep up with improving their products every year. Ultimately it’s the consumers who reap the benefits of this ‘exercise’. To be eligible for entry, the products must have been launched in the past 12 months and demonstrate innovation in one or more key areas – including functionality, design, packaging, or recipe. Every September I attend Jury Day as part of the panel including journalists and industry experts. We assess all entries for quality to ensure they meet the innovation criteria set by Product of the Year committee. 

The panel of judges include people like me who are experts in their niche and my friend and blogger Mirka Moore of the popular mummy blog All Baby Advice and Fitness for Mamas. After all almost two-thirds of mums use smart phones and are key in both the development of products as well as the driving forces in purchasing them. Plus one out of three bloggers are mums. Mothers are more likely than other women to buy something based on a recommendation on a social network (42% to 29%). It’s proven that we mums continue to take advantage of the little spare time we have by utilising all the tools at our disposal. This includes mobile devices and social networks. 
Every September we are called in at the Institute of Directors where we spend the day trying a lot of beauty products, food, gadgets and household items.
I don’t always like all the products that enter the process and I leave comments on how I think they can be improved from the consumer’s perspective. 
Once every member of the Jury decides which products are worthy of going forward, the ball is passed onto the shoppers / the consumers – over 10,000 – who vote for their favourite ones in each category.
The Product of the Year winners are then formally announced at a glamorous awards show which takes place the following January.
These shows are usually presented by a famous comedian like Bremner and a popular musician from the XFactor will sing a few songs live on a stage. Hail to the next 10 years of Product of the Year and to a great process that benefits progress and innovation. 
Meantime watch this space for next week’s Awards ceremony which I look forward to attending in glam style. 

Photos by Simon Williams 

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