Understanding Award Washing: Identifying Legitimate Product Awards

Brand Marketing, Brand Trust, Parent Tested Parent Approved Seal of Approval, Product Awards, PTPA Seal of Approval, Sales Growth

In today’s overcrowded, competitive landscape, it seems like every product comes with an award. Every marketing department has managed to create some sort of accolade, making it increasingly difficult for consumers to identify truly exceptional products among the sea of stickers and badges.

It’s called award washing, and brands have to be on guard. Amid all the award clutter, we’re here to help sort out the contenders from the pretenders.

Legitimate awards are a big business. According to the Journal of Marketing Research, a reputable award can boost sales by 24% and showcasing an award on your e-commerce site can lead to a 55% increase in customer engagement.

But what is a reputable award? For brands, retailers and manufacturers, it’s buyer beware. Not all awards are created equal. 

At Parent Tested Parent Approved, our industry-leading awards program is earned, not bought or voted on. We don’t engage in pay-for-play schemes or popularity contests.

Instead, we rely on rigorous, real-world testing by actual families. Our program ensures that when a product earns our coveted PTPA Seal of Approval, it’s not just another award—it’s the mark of genuine quality and reliability.

In a marketplace overrun with awards, true gems are rare. Every product seems to flaunt a shiny badge.

The truth? Most awards aren’t worth the sticker they’re printed on.

Here’s how we set the gold standard for awards, and how we stand out from the pretenders:

Full Disclosure on Award Criteria:

Consumer trust is at an all-time low and consumers are looking for more from brands than ever before. Brands have to be up front and honest. Need proof? Well, research shows 90% of consumers are willing to pay more for a product they trust.

Trust and transparency are essential when promoting awards as well. Legitimate awards maintain transparency and are upfront about their judging criteria. We pride ourselves on our commitment to clarity and openness, clearly outlining the qualities that make a product exceptional.

After all, the best products don’t need to hide.

In contrast, pay-for-play awards often lack transparency. These awards may be given in exchange for a fee, and the criteria—if they exist—are often vague or misleading. This lack of clarity can fool consumers into thinking a product is of higher quality when its award might not be based on performance or user satisfaction.

It’s what sets us apart in an industry where pay-for-play awards have become all too common, misleading consumers with endorsements that are bought rather than earned. These awards are primarily marketing tools for brands, designed to enhance product visibility and sales without genuine validation of product quality.

You can’t just buy our seal of approval. That’s a non-starter for PTPA, and should be a red flag for any brand. Why? Because it’s not an award. It’s a purchase. 

Authentic Product Testing:

Our consumer testing process means getting the product into the right hands: those from your target audience who actually buy your products. This method surpasses typical lab tests, as our testers use these products in everyday situations, in their own homes. This hands-on approach allows products to be tested under real-world conditions, in everyday life.

Our diverse network of over 250,000 consumers provides invaluable insights that only real-life use can offer. Those selected testers assess everything from ease of use and durability to aesthetic appeal and integration into daily routines. This authentic feedback from genuine users guarantees that our awards reflect practical utility and genuine satisfaction, ensuring that when a product carries our seal, it truly meets the needs of families.

Real Consumers, Real Insights:

Our evaluation process is black and white and our program is supported by comprehensive reviews from consumers, rather than relying solely on superficial star ratings. This approach ensures we capture the nuances of each product, from the standout features to potential drawbacks, providing a complete picture that goes beyond mere first impressions.

By focusing on both the pros and cons, we equip families with the information they need to make informed decisions, ensuring the products they choose are tested and trusted by those who understand their needs best.

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No Bias, Just Honesty

Our evaluation process is founded on principles of fairness and honesty. We do not play favorites. Every product entered is judged solely on its quality and effectiveness, not on how deep the brand’s pockets are. This commitment to unbiased assessments ensures that there are no advertisers or financial incentives that could impact the results. It’s a system of pure merit, where only the best products earn our seal of approval. It’s really that simple.

Our award is also not decided by a vote. We believe that trust and credibility are not a popularity contest. While public votes can be influenced by marketing muscle and social media popularity, they often do not reflect the true quality of a product. By eliminating this element, PTPA ensures that every product that is awarded our seal stands on its own merits, tested and approved based on thorough criteria that is not open to interpretation. 

Leveraging Genuine Consumer Insights

How else are we different from our competition? We specialize in connecting brands with direct consumer insights through targeted custom surveys. These surveys are meticulously created to deliver actionable insights from brands, helping them understand the consumer perspective more clearly.

By focusing on key areas of buyer interest and spending habits, these insights are crucial for identifying strengths to enhance and weaknesses to address, directly impacting product development and marketing strategies.

This targeted approach ensures that brands receive precise, relevant feedback, facilitating effective improvements and fostering deeper consumer trust and loyalty.

Legacy of Integrity

Trust isn’t given. It’s earned over time. PTPA has built a reputation for integrity and quality that spans years, not just moments. Our consistent track record since 2007 speaks volumes about our commitment to upholding the highest standards.

Full disclosure fosters trust between the brand and the consumer. When shoppers understand what makes an award legitimate, they trust it as a reliable indicator of quality. On the other hand, pay-for-play awards can erode trust once consumers realize that awards can be bought rather than earned.

Brands associated with transparent and respected awards like the PTPA Seal of Approval can build a stronger reputation. This integrity attracts customers who value quality and honesty. Brands relying on pay-for-play or voted-on awards may see a short-term increase in attention but potentially at the cost of long-term customer loyalty and brand integrity.


In a marketplace saturated with superficial awards and endorsements, Parent Tested Parent Approved stands alone as the symbol of trust. Our seal is more than an award; it’s a promise of integrity and authenticity.

Why choose PTPA?  Because we’re all about trust and connecting your products to millions of consumers. We don’t believe in pay-for-play; our seal of approval is earned, not bought. Our standards remain true, our criteria unchanged. When you see our seal, you know it represents a product has been tested, and approved, by consumers—not marketing teams.

Work with us. Let’s continue to champion products that are truly worthy of being award-winning. Together, we can ensure that excellence is not just claimed, but demonstrated and celebrated.

That’s the power of genuine, consumer-approved validation.

That’s the strength of Parent Tested Parent Approved.

Have questions? Connect with us so we can show you why we’re North America’s leading consumer-tested award.