Alcone Marketing Group – Consumer Lab

The Consumer Lab is the consumer insights and brand strategy group at Alcone Marketing Group, a consumer activation company.

More pets dressed to chill for Halloween

From mass merchants to big pet store to small pet boutiques – retailers are pushing Halloween costumes for pets. More than 7.4 million households will dress up their pets this year according to the National Retail Federation.


More pets dressed to chill for Halloween –
Looking to scare up Halloween sales, retailers have stocked up on what to some might be a scary idea: pet costumes.

More than 7.4 million households will dress up their pets this year, the National Retail Federation says. Most popular are devils, pumpkins and witches, the NRF says, but offbeat costumes, such as a peacock and a mini-Princess Leia from Star Wars, are also selling.


Filed under: Consumer, dogs, pets, trends

Target Campaign Goes ‘Model-Less’

How can a fashion show be staged without models to wear the clothes? Well, Target is attempting to answer that question. The retailer will use holograms instead of real models to “model” their fall and winter lines in NYC.
This is not the first time Target has created an “out-of-the-box” event to draw publicity and awareness. These very interesting events are all part of the company’s marketing strategy – of course in addition to the low-cost designer apparel and accessories. Will this event change the way the fashion industry parades its wares? Probably not, but it will get Target the attention it is looking for.

Target Campaign Goes ‘Model-Less’ –

In Target’s never-ending quest to be hipper than the competition, the retailer plans to showcase its fall and winter designer apparel in a spooky sort of fashion show: Clothes and accessories will dance and prance their way down the runway sans models — and sans apparel.

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Filed under: advertising, Branded Entertainment, clothing, Consumer, fashion

Kids Eating Same Things For Breakfast 20 Years On

The NPD Group study may seem a simple one, but its implications for food and
beverage marketers are strong. “Most of the foods eaten in this country are
introduced to us by the age of five,” NPD’s Harry Balzer says, “and we spend the
rest of our lives looking for variations of them.”


MediaPost Publications – Kids Eating Same Things For Breakfast 20 Years On – 10/29/2007
THE BRANDS MAY DIFFER, BUT what Grandma fed her children for breakfast is determining what today’s young children find on their plates each morning. And, predicts food guru Harry Balzer, the children of today’s tots will find more of the same 20 years hence.

“What’s amazing to me is that I can tell you what kids will be eating for breakfast in 2027,” says Blazer, vice president of The NPD Group and author of its annual Eating Patterns in America report, which studied breakfasts served to children under six over the past 20 years.

Filed under: beverages, Consumer, CPG, families, kids, living target

To Sharpen Nike’s Edge, CEO Taps ‘Influencers’

It’s best known for mega-endorsers like Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan, but Nike
CEO Mark Parker also sees a role for Mr. Cartoon, a Los Angeles tattoo artist
whose ink-on-flesh flourishes are popular with rappers like Eminem and 50 Cent.

Mr. Cartoon–who Parker calls an “aesthetic influence and a friend”–
has designed six lines of limited-edition shoes for Nike, ranging in price from
$70 to $130. They include a version of the company’s classic Air Force One
basketball shoe that nods to what Mr. Cartoon calls the “old icons of the
gangsters”: skulls and roses, dark tenements and “sexy, female

The drive to recruit under-the-radar influencers is a key part
of Nike’s strategy. Following his own instincts, Parker has moved to
aggressively link Nike with those who can help maintain the company’s standing
among what he calls the “influencers of influencers.” Plumbing a global network
of friends, he has fostered Nike collaborations with a New York graffiti artist
named Lenny Futura and industrial designer Marc Newson.


To Sharpen Nike’s Edge, CEO Taps ‘Influencers’ –
BEAVERTON, Ore. — Nike’s iconic co-founder Philip H. Knight built the company by sealing endorsement deals with sports heroes such as Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods. But under current Chief Executive Mark Parker, Nike is also depending on lesser-known figures — like a Los Angeles tattoo artist known as Mister Cartoon.

Though far from mainstream, Mr. Cartoon rivals Nike’s high-profile jocks for influence among a certain crowd that is young, Latino and hip-hop. His ink-on-flesh flourishes are popular with rappers like Eminem and 50 Cent. Born Mark Machado, Mr. Cartoon has also written comic-book style graphic novels and created a brand called Joker to sell T-shirts and baseball caps with his designs. Nike’s Mr. Parker, who met Mr. Cartoon several years ago, calls him an “aesthetic influence and a friend.”

Filed under: advertising, fashion, Gen Y, living target, trends, Young Adults

CPG Marketers May Have Found Their Mass-Reach Vehicle: Search


bull rider


Published: October 23, 2007

BATAVIA, Ohio ( — Research released today by ComScore defies long-cherished beliefs that people don’t care enough about package-goods products to do online search about them or go to their websites.

According to ComScore, people who visited package-goods sites via search rather than other means tended to be higher income, better educated, more female and bigger category spenders.

According to ComScore, people who visited package-goods sites via search rather than other means tended to be higher income, better educated, more female and bigger category spenders.

The study found a majority of U.S. consumers visited at least one package-goods website during the three months ended in April, with search driving a substantial proportion of those visits.

Food, baby-care sites
Food product sites drew 93.7 million visitors collectively during the three-month period, 47% of them coming from search, according to ComScore. Baby-care sites got an even bigger proportion of their 26 million unique visitors from search at 60%.

Collectively, those audiences are huge — bigger certainly than the vast majority of TV programs or print media plans for most package-goods marketers. Those 26 million visitors to baby-care sites compare to only 20 million children under 5 years old as counted by the 2000 U.S. Census, indicating some grandparents, expectant moms or baby-shower shoppers may be swelling the ranks, too.

Ironically, the data would seem to indicate that search, along with brand websites, could be the mass-reach vehicle package-goods marketers have found lacking since media began fragmenting in the 1970s.

“Search really can be thought of as a reach vehicle, and even more powerfully, reaching people who clearly are engaging with your product,” said James Lamberti, a former Clorox Co. executive who’s now senior VP-media for ComScore.

Under-spend in category
Yet the surprising traffic comes despite the fact package-goods marketers continue to under-spend many other industries online, with most industry marketers, including study participant Procter & Gamble Co., spending low-single-digit percentages of their measured-media outlays on the internet, according to TNS Media Intelligence data for the first half of 2007. P&G spent 2.1% of its $1.6 billion outlay online, up from 1.4% a year ago.

The measured data doesn’t include search, but research firm Jupiter estimates search currently accounts for less than 20% of overall package-goods online media spending.

Even so, P&G, whose partners in the study include Yahoo and the Search Engine Marketing Professionals Organization, sees the data as a sign of the power of search marketing.

“I think there’s this mentality that ‘This is package goods. Sure they’re going to use search for a car or a mortgage, but they’re not using it for deodorant or skin care,'” Mr. Lamberti said. “But in fact they do.”

“P&G wants to increase our spending on the marketing elements that have the best return on investment for us,” said Randy Peterson, search innovation manager for P&G. “It’s increasingly looking like search is a good way to spend marketing dollars. Is it a panacea for us? No.”

One of the most interesting aspects of the study, he said, was the extent to which it showed people are using search to find information in their daily lives.

“It started in the technical world, moved to books, DVDs and travel,” he said. “Now people are realizing, ‘I can even look up information about coffee and laundry detergent online.’ It’s become a natural way people use to get information of all kinds.”

Of particular interest, Mr. Peterson said, was that searchers who came to package-goods sites were much more category-involved and bigger spenders (by 20%) than non-searchers. “That tells us something about how we should spend our marketing dollars,” he said.

Gaps in search buys
But the study also found huge gaps in search coverage by major brands on key terms in their categories. Even though ComScore’s survey of online searchers found 71% expect to see major brands come up in the results when they do a search. For example, searches on the term “anti-aging” returned nothing in the top organic or paid listings for the biggest media spender and leading brand in the segment, P&G’s Olay. But Johnson & Johnson rival Neutrogena has bought the top paid listing on Google and Yahoo.

Lack of significant paid search by most major brands is a key reason why only 2% to 3% of clicks for package-goods-related searches go to paid listings, compared to 12% to 13% overall for search, Mr. Lamberti said.

Among other surprises in the research, coupons and promotions play less of a role in driving traffic to package-goods sites than he expected. Only 40% of searchers and 47% of non-searchers said they went to brand sites to seek promotional deals, compared to 73% and 58% respectively who went there seeking information and help.

Overall, people who visited package-goods sites via search rather than other means tended to be higher income, better educated, more female and bigger category spenders, also underlying the relative value of search advertising, Mr. Lamberti said.

Matt Wilburn, senior category director for Yahoo on package goods, does see a trickle of movement of industry marketers toward search, which he believes could turn into more of a flood within a few years.

“As we’ve gone into planning meetings with clients for ’08, search consistently is being asked for,” he said. “CPG companies tend to be like battleships. They’re slow to make big turns.”

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MySpace Seeks to Create A Destination for Games

MySpace wants to be an online gaming destination. The online social networking site wanted to increase its fun factor, and give consumers more reasons to spend extended periods of time on the site.

MySpace Seeks to Create A Destination for Games –

MySpace, already a leading online provider of music and video, is beefing up its presence in another sector of entertainment — games — through a deal with Oberon Media Inc.

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Filed under: Games, Internet, social networking

Marketers Explore New Virtual Worlds

The evolution of online marketing is an interesting phenomenon to be living through. Marketers are trying to navigate through a new world where best practices have not necessarily been established. They are trying to latch on to the next big thing or create the most engaging content while at the same time trying to be cautious.

We know that more and more consumers are entering virtual worlds and social networks, but the consumer composition and constructs of these sites are in constant flux in an ever changing world. Digital worlds are definitely here to stay, and it will be interesting to watch where the best successes are found.

Marketers Explore New Virtual Worlds –

A year ago, online virtual world Second Life was being hailed as the next big digital-marketing phenomenon. But it has begun to lose some of its luster. Put off by high costs and uncertain returns, marketers who had rushed to establish a presence in the three-dimensional online computer game are beginning to look elsewhere. Some are trying other virtual worlds with names like Gaia Online, Zwinktopia, Stardoll and Habbo. Others, particularly in the entertainment industry, are creating their own virtual worlds that fans visit via a brand’s Web site.

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Filed under: Consumer, Internet, social networking, Virtual Worlds

MySpace Seeks to Create A Destination for Games

MySpace will feature free, easy-to-play titles from Oberon Media. Given that MySpace allows user-generated items like layouts, content tables and more, what do you think the likelihood that they will open up gaming to developers? Additionally, do you think MySpace will open their games up to advertisers and marketers? After all, you can be “friends” with brands on the social networking site…


MySpace Seeks to Create A Destination for Games –
MySpace, already a leading online provider of music and video, is beefing up its presence in another sector of entertainment — games — through a deal with Oberon Media Inc.

The online social network, a unit of News Corp., on Tuesday announced a plan to create a destination for games on the site through a deal with New York-based Oberon, a closely held company that distributes games to a variety of high-profile online partners. The games section on MySpace, due to be launched in January, will feature hundreds of free “casual” games — easy-to-play titles that are part of the fastest growing sector of the games industry.

Filed under: advertising, Branded Entertainment, digital, Games, Gaming, social networking, trends, UGM, websites

Mobile social networking taking off

Cross MySpace, cell phones – mobile social networking taking off

Ryan Kim, Chronicle Staff Writer

Monday, October 22, 2007

Heather Chan, 24, was at a barbecue recently when the mother of a friend brought out a slab of green Jell-O filled with chunks of vegetables. It was a moment that begged to be broadcast.

“I thought, ‘Gross – I have to share this with everyone else,’ ” said Chan, a bank manager and San Francisco State University student from San Mateo.

But instead of going home and logging on to MySpace to blog and share her pictures, Chan snapped a photo with her cell phone and sent it out immediately to her network of friends on Radar, a mobile social network. Within seconds, she started getting comments back on her cell about the gelatinous monstrosity.

Radar is just one of a raft of new mobile social networking services that are taking the model of Facebook and MySpace and making it more immediate and portable. Companies like Twitter, Zannel, loopt and Jaiku are allowing people to create networks of friends that stay in touch primarily through their mobile phones.

The traditional Internet heavyweights are not conceding the mobile space to the upstarts. MySpace recently introduced a free mobile version of its Web site. Facebook also has expanded into mobile. And Google bought mobile social networking startup Zingku last month.

The trend toward mobile networking is going to be a big theme at the CTIA Wireless I.T. & Entertainment cellular conference in San Francisco this week, with Facebook co-founder Dustin Moscovitz delivering the keynote address.

In some ways, mobile improves on a key promise of social networking – that is, it allows you to stay in touch with your friends wherever you go. And these virtual networks are becoming an increasingly popular channel for communication, both for broadcasting and exchanging messages and notes.

Users don’t have to be at home or in front of a computer to flip through profiles and check in on their friends. And they can now blog and livecast their life as it happens.

“What we find so exciting with mobile is that it’s the one device with you 24/7,” said Adam Zbar, chief executive of San Francisco-based Zannel. “You can instantly transmit what you’re doing. You can have a full discussion around that with your friends, and then you can also meet new people.”

Unlike their more traditional online forebears, mobile social networks are even a little more casual and ripe for whimsical interaction and broadcasting. The medium is made for short, offbeat updates about random subjects.

Radar, like Zannel, lets you post pictures directly from your phone to your friends. Unlike Zannel, however, the service is aimed at a closed network, so interlopers can’t stumble upon your musings.

John Poisson, CEO of Tiny Pictures, which operates the Radar service, said because of the personal nature of phones, it makes more sense to limit access to your world to just friends, who can appreciate your little updates and understand their context in your life.

“It’s about giving people something that’s a little more personal than a big social network,” Poisson said. “The mobile phone is a very individualized device; it’s that thing in your hand that connects you to people in your life.”

Analysts said the growth in mobile social networking is relatively small but significant, especially with younger users. Julie Ask, an analyst with JupiterResearch, said 28 percent of teens surveyed are interested in MySpace on their cell phone. It makes sense for social networking to go mobile, especially as many younger people increasingly communicate through these networks, Ask said.

Tole Hart, a Gartner analyst, agreed. “When mobile instant messaging moved to phones, it didn’t have popularity at first – but now it’s growing and you’ll see the same thing with mobile communities,” Hart said.

Amit Kapur, director of business development for MySpace, said the company’s push into mobile is a direct response to its members’ demands. The company has made a number of steps into the mobile space, first launching an embedded service with niche carrier Helio last year and also offering access through AT&T and now T-Mobile Sidekick phones.

With the addition of the new mobile site, accessible through most phone browsers, Kapur said that nearly all members will be able to extend their MySpace experience to their phones.

“If you’re able to extend the experience to allow users to access their account whenever they want it, we’ll see an uplift in usage, both online and on mobile phones,” Kapur said.

For now, MySpace users accessing the mobile site get a trimmed-down experience. You can view profiles, leave messages, update blogs, change mood status and accept friend requests. But you can’t upload pictures directly to your MySpace page.

The most aggressive carrier in the mobile social networking space has been Helio, the startup focused on high-end, tech-savvy users. The company offers an embedded MySpace application that is optimized for Helio and allows for media uploading. More than 70 percent of Helio users access Helio’s MySpace service on their phones.

Helio also offers geo-tagging of Flickr pictures using GPS, as well as a Buddy Beacon service that shows where your other Helio friends are using a map.

The Buddy Beacon is an especially intriguing element in mobile social networking, allowing friends in a network to not only find each other and communicate, but to arrange real-world meetings. Palo Alto’s loopt provides a similar service for Sprint and Boost Mobile users, letting them find each other and leave geo-tagged notes about restaurants or bars.

Helio’s Rob Gelick, vice president for media and community services, said his company has been aggressive in weaving social networking into its service because Helio is finding it’s a key differentiator and a preferred mode of communication for its users.

“We are looking at a unique user base, younger and fluent in technology and making connections. We wanted to change the way people use mobile phones for community,” Gelick said. “We saw text was a good tool, but it’s not enough for users to communicate. To go to a profile and see, to do a bulletin as a multicast out to a trusted network – all on your phone – that’s a whole new paradigm.”

Chan, the Radar user, understands the new paradigm well. She said she checks her account at least 20 times a day, exchanging updates about her life with her friends.

“This is instant blogging, instant conversations,” Chan said. “You get a better feel of what people are doing daily, where they are and how they’re living their life.”

Want to go mobile?











Filed under: 1

Now Serving: a Makeover

Be on the look out for growth in popularity of tennis. ATP is the non-profit group that governs men’s pro tennis tournaments. However, it seems to been in need of some name recognition. For this reason, the group will be rolling out a new ad campaign. The goal of the campaign is to attract new audiences to the sport of tennis as well as attracting new sponsors.

Now Serving: a Makeover –

The ATP Tour has an image problem. The London-based not-for-profit group governs men’s pro tennis tournaments around the world, but it isn’t responsible for the Grand Slam — the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, the tournaments that attract the biggest sponsors and the biggest audiences. (They are under the supervision of the International Tennis Federation, a separate body.) While Grand Slam events dominate the sports pages, players spend far more time on the ATP Tour, which runs matches in 30 countries for 11 months of the year.

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Filed under: advertising, sports

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