Alcone Marketing Group – Consumer Lab

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

California Lottery Warner Bros. Records VIP Lounge is OPEN!

Alcone has just launched the California Lottery’s VIP Lounge website.  This website was developed to promote the Lottery’s Warner Bros. Records Scratchers.  Rather than the typical linear website, we created a fun, interactive and engaging environment for the user to explore, at the same time becoming familiar with the new Scratchers and the Lottery’s partnership with a cool, unexpected property – Warner Bros. Records.

I encourage you to check out the site.  I think you will find Turk the Security Guard both menacing, and charming.



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Hello Pierogy Lovers!

Hello Pierogy Lovers!

We are excited to announce that our client, Mrs. T’s Pierogies, will be a featured segment on the Food Network’s Unwrapped Monday September 14 at 9 PM (ET).

Unwrapped, one of the Food Network’s top rated shows, uncovers behind-the-scenes details on classic American food, from peanut butter and chocolate syrup to French fries and bubblegum. Host Marc Summers explores the test kitchens and the secrets behind lunch box treats, soda pop, movie candy, pierogies and more.

Mrs. T’s, an Alcone client since 2003, has had a very exciting year.  In February, Alcone created the Serving Up Smiles platform which we activated against in May with Mrs. T’s Delicious, Complete Meals Under $10. The May activation was an integrated program designed to increase sales in a traditionally contra time period. Support included promotional print, in-store, FSI, PR and online delivering delicious meal solutions for as little as $10, $15, and $20.

This Fall we will launch Mrs. T’s National Pierogy Day – October 8, 2009.  Alcone created this Fall event celebrating the nation’s love of pierogies and the anniversary of the very first Mrs. T’s Pierogy sale.  To honor National Pierogy Day, Mrs. T’s is “Helping to Fight Hunger” in 11 markets donating a portion of its proceeds to local Food Banks for every product purchased Oct. 4 – 16.  Starting October 1, Mrs. T’s National Pierogy Day will drop a nationwide Full Page FSI and will be supported via syndicated media in-store, online and through various PR outreach.

We hope you join us in helping to fight hunger by celebrating National Pierogy Day on October 8 and tune in to Unwrapped on September 14.



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Unfortunately, I have found the first problem with posting blog entries from Word… I can’t categorize the posts…

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This is a test

This is a test to see if I can post a blog entry from Word into The Consumer Lab blog at

Filed under: 1 moves to Twitter

I’m going to try something new for a while. Perhaps it will be easier to keep up with the blog if I tweet instead. Let’s see how this goes, shall we?

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Promotions Could Overtake Display and Search Says Report

Display and search advertising are losing ground to spending on online promotions and sponsorships, according to a new report. Web research firm Borrell Associates claims Internet marketing dollars have shifted “away from classic online spending” in favor of non-advertising marketing expenditures, or what it calls the “nebulous category of ‘promotions’.”

“This is one of the most fascinating phenomena we’ve seen, and it’s a bit of a sleeper. It’s been a bit understated so far,” said Borrell Associates CEO Gordon Borrell. “But we think the overall trend is going to make advertising look considerably different in the next 10 years than it has in the last 100 years.”

Spending on display ads, including banners and pop-ups, has been flat for the past two years, and will peak this year at $12.6 billion before beginning a “precipitous decline to less than half that amount over the next four years,” according to the “Online Promotions: The Big Shift” report. The same can be said for search advertising, which Borrell predicts will peak next year at $16.9 billion, then decline more gradually.

Meanwhile, online promotions accounted for $8 billion last year, a number that will nearly triple over the next five years, eventually reaching $22.8 billion and eclipsing all other categories of online marketing, the report said.

“What’s driving it is an overall dissatisfaction or nagging feeling on the part of advertisers that their advertising isn’t working, or that they’re overspending on it,” said Borrell. “With the Internet, they can go straight to consumers. If they’re having a sale, they can put it up on their Web site and consumers will come to them, and if their Web site is good enough, consumers will keep coming back.”

This shift brings with it a host of challenges and opportunities for media companies, which will need to offer greater inventory for non-traditional media plays. Those include giveaways, coupons and online contests. If publishers adjust, they stand to reap vastly greater advertising revenues than they would from selling standard display advertising alone.

“I think there’s a lot of complacency among a lot of traditional media that companies will always have to advertise, so they’re not adjusting fast enough,” said Borrell. “These traditional and legacy media companies are going to have to start being much more creative and less order-takers.”

While no particular category of advertiser is driving the shift toward promotions, Borrell added it is national marketers, rather than local ones, who are doing the most experimenting in the area. “They have the size to understand it and experiment and do different things,” he said. Nonetheless, local advertisers are following, he said.

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110 Million Pounds of Hot Dogs? Only in America, Kids …

Americans may be watching pennies these days, but we’re not about to let
rising food costs or health-consciousness rain on our Fourth of July BBQs.
According to research from The Nielsen Company, sales of most traditional
Fourth food and beverage items during the four weeks around the holiday should
match or exceed sales during the same period last year.


MediaPost Publications – 110 Million Pounds of Hot Dogs? Only in America, Kids … – 06/30/2008
Americans may be watching pennies these days, but we’re not about to let rising food costs or health-consciousness rain on our Fourth of July BBQs.

According to research from The Nielsen Company, sales of most traditional Fourth food and beverage items during the four weeks around the holiday should match or exceed sales during the same period last year.

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Nielsen Shifts From Counter Programming To Counter Terrorism

Did you know that Nielsen data and research not only used by marketing executives? In fact, the coveted consumer info is also being used by some unspecified group to counter terrorism.

This is some really interesting information that has been brought to light.

Nielsen Shifts From Counter Programming To Counter Terrorism – 04/25/2008

People in the advertising business tend to take Nielsen data pretty seriously, but a top company executive Thursday disclosed that Nielsen data is now being used for purposes far more consequential than TV ratings or product research. It’s being used to detect and counter terrorist attacks on the U.S. homeland.

Powered by ScribeFire.

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Top 10 Beer Brand Performers In 2007

Top 10 Beer Brand Performers In 2007

1 Blue Moon Belgian White Ale

2 Samuel Adams Seasonal

3 Heineken Premium Light Lager

4 Stella Artois Lager

5 Newcastle Brown Ale

6 Coors Light

7 Bud Light

8 Yuengling Traditional Lager

9 Miller Lite

10 Samuel Adams Boston Lager

Source: Information Resources, Inc.

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Thoughts on Kids and the Net

Thoughts on Kids and the Net

Readers Offer Thoughts on When Children
Should Be Introduced to the Digital World
Wall Street Journal
March 31, 2008

In last week’s column I explored a fatherly dilemma. At five years old, my son Joshua has fairly little exposure to computers and the digital world. He knows his parents use the computer for work and to look things up, and he’s played videogames now and then with a friend of his babysitter, but that’s about it. Meanwhile, some of his friends are experts with a mouse or play games online.

On the one hand, I feel like Joshua has a lifetime of computing ahead of him, so why rush him away from bike riding and Playmobil? On the other hand, he’ll learn, socialize and work in a digital world, so shouldn’t I be preparing him for that, just as I’m trying to lay the groundwork for his learning to read, write and get along with others?

Readers had plenty to say about that. Some advised that Joshua has plenty of time to learn about the Net but not a lot of time to just be a kid. Others shared their experiences raising very wired and quite happy toddlers. Thanks to everybody who took the time to email me, post on the Real Time forum or comment on the Juggle. While every columnist hopes his or her writing generates a response, I was also reading as a father eager for thoughts, perspective and advice. So thank you twice over.

I haven’t come to any conclusions, but I did take one lesson very much to heart, as I heard it from people with very different takes on my dilemma: Let Joshua be Joshua.

Selected responses follow — as always, they’ve been edited for space and clarity. If you’d like to continue the discussion, you can do so in the Real Time forum.

Trent Johnsey writes: My daughter just turned 6, and has discovered computers and the Internet to some extent, though the Nick and Disney Web-site games are the extent of her online adventures, and those are with the assistance of Dad.

Knowing how I am with computer games and being a computer developer myself, I have taken an agnostic approach. If my daughter discovers a computer game she might want to have, then I might consider buying it for her. However, I certainly haven’t encouraged her playing on the computer. Like you, I figure she will have a lifetime of QWERTY to look forward to or dread, whichever the case may be. She need not have any early encouragement from Dad.

Ultimately, I have no desire to rush things. My children will live in a dizzyingly connected world. The farther down the road that world starts, the better off they will be. Right now, they need to concentrate on the basics, and computers are not part of that world yet.

Dianne Atkinson writes: My husband and I worked in technical fields for more than 15 years, so we are both adept at using the computer, printer, Internet and cellphones. But we are also both turned off by how technology seems to rule society — and is not used as a mere tool.

We have devices in the house, but we actively decided not to let technology rule our lives. We eat together as often as possible. We follow routines with our 3-year-old daughter — reading stories, playing with puzzles, going to the park, talking and hugging. The skills humans need — to interact, communicate, share, empathize and sympathize — can’t be taught by computers or the Internet. Young children need to bond with their parents and friends and learn these skills.

I believe very fundamental social skills are being lost. It takes work to learn the technologies that enable us to increase our productivity. It also takes work to actively disengage from those technologies so that we can focus on those values and interactions most valuable to our existence.

Katheryn L. Northington writes: I have often asked myself the same question regarding my kids and the computer. We have a 5-year-old daughter and a 4-year-old son, and neither spends much time on the computer. They have both played a little on the PBS Web site, but that happens once every two or three months. We tend to view computer time and TV time as the same, so if the kids have seen their one-hour max of TV for the day, then there is no time left for the computer anyway.

We have friends with very different habits, admittedly, and I am in no way positive that we are making the right decision. I do know, however, that kids learn quickly, and I think it will be much easier to teach them the necessary computer skills when the time comes than it would be to break a possibly more-harmful habit of “too much” computer and not enough outside/independent/imagination-required playtime.

I would like to think that we are not holding on to a childhood past, but attempting to preserve what proved to be the roots of our success as more-or-less intelligent, active, healthy adults.

Joseph G. Herlihy writes: My sons Joseph and Joshua (a.k.a. “Jaja”) are 2 and 1, respectively. Joseph understands that Daddy uses the computer for work and, when asked to “work,” will eagerly begin play-typing. His big computer experiences have been the PBS Kids site for some simple games and YouTube for truck and animal videos.

My wife and I have no TV and are all about Lego bricks and simple toys. I think that we are both on the right track regarding minimizing the use of computers and emphasizing creative play. I want my sons to be able to be able to be able to think more completely about a subject and not suffer the attention deficit I know I’ve picked up by skimming from subject to subject and rarely taking the time to go deep.

I have always been a technology advocate: Mine was the first class at the U.S. Naval Academy to be issued computers back in 1986, and I remember feeling so in awe of that big, hulking box with two 5 ¼ floppy drives and no hard drive. And, as a management consultant now, I really live and die by how efficiently I am able to use technology in front of me. But I think the critical-thinking skills that come from tactile, hands-on play and imagination are much more important than anything they will learn on the computer at this early stage.

Forum member Gary B. writes: I have three kids — ages 10, 8 and 6. Despite being a technologist, I did nothing to push my children to use computers. Instead, the marketing geniuses for Ganz (who makes Webkinz), Club Penguin, and other social-media sites directed at kids in that age range pushed the kids there for me.

Don’t rush it — your son will start getting pressure to get on the computer from his friends in a couple of years. For now, let him enjoy the simplicity of life prior to that distraction and pressure. Afterwards, it’s just one more element of “screen time” (in addition to Wii, TV, etc) that you will have to limit.

Pam Nelson writes: In this very different digital world, one thing remains constant: Children have a natural curiosity about things, and they do better developmentally the more they are allowed to explore things they can see, hear, touch, smell and taste. Once the computer grabs his attention, you’ll wish you hadn’t let the genie out of the bottle yet. Let your son explore his real world fully — taking things apart, getting muddy in the backyard, playing with his friends as they build skyscrapers out of cardboard boxes. These are the real pursuits of childhood, and he won’t easily go back to exploring them once he’s plugged in.

If he is your first child, it feels like every decision you make is really important, especially during those preschool years. Trust me, I remember — and yes, they are! And yet, I’ve gained more perspective about those years now that my kids are 11 and 15. I have to admit that many of my earlier, very earnest deliberations about what is best going to serve my children were noble, but not nearly as important as just allowing them to fully explore their world on their terms, and trusting that they would show me what they were ready for when they were in fact ready — on their schedule, not mine!

Forum member mabiggs writes: We have a 6-year-old and a 4-year-old, and my Microsoft husband and I have debated this question at length. We always come back to the idea that the kids can pick up the technology later — but what are the odds that they will find time later in life to climb trees and dig in the dirt?

I also got many thoughtful comments from people whose kids have computers or other digital devices playing a more-active role in their lives.

Steve Stringfellow writes: My son just turned 3, and the part of the digital world he moves most easily in is cameras. He has taken over my Canon Elph: As long as he keeps a strap around his neck it is reasonably indestructible. On a three-day trip to Santa Fe, he took 348 pictures. He has a definitely a different eye for images than an adult: While he is interested in people, most of his pictures are taken low, looking up high. He is more interested in objects, primarily toys. He has a series of pictures of a plastic cow. And there is the “crib as prison” series taken while waking up from nap.

While any settings he changes are fairly random, and he has no clue about zoom, his yield on decent pictures is at least as good as mine. He feels no need to park a child in front of any image, which helps a great deal. And printing a few pictures, primarily from the cow series, can be the highlight of his day.

Forum member cvanderbush writes: My 5-year-old uses a computer to play games at, and He knows that if we ever need an answer to a question about anything we can “ask the Internet.” Google Earth lets him explore around the world and reminds us of places we’ve been to together. He likes typing letters and (now) words in Word. He enjoys scanning his drawings and paintings into Photoshop, which we put on our family Web site for relatives to see.

But there is also value in playing games. We play the two-person cooperative game Lego Star Wars together on the Wii. My son has learned the importance of teamwork, that problem-solving takes patience, and that practicing something really does make you better at it. We’ve been stumped many times and really had to “use our noggin” to make a breakthrough and when we do, we share some really great “Aha!” moments.

It’s true, some children become obsessed with video games. But are these obsessions any worse than the ones we had growing up in the ’70s? In second grade my brother could tell you how many touchdowns Roger Staubach threw, how many yards Tony Dorsett rushed for, how many yards and receptions Lynn Swann had, how many sacks Jack Hamm had for multiple seasons. Back then, that was considered healthy. Is it really any different than knowing what character you need to use in Star Wars Episode 4, Level 3 to be able to jump high enough to get the last minikit that earns you another gold brick and unlocks Boba Fett’s ship?

Thomas F. Anglero writes: I wrote a comment on “The Juggle” saying that the time that parents spend with kids on the Internet is the same quality time that parents have always spent with their kids at bed time reading a story or just talking. We parents are living in a time where we don’t have a childhood reference to rely on and that makes us uncomfortable. Ignoring this feeling is not the answer — communicating is. At WiHood we are working with schools in Oslo, Norway to communicate this directly with the parents and with organizations in New York City to do the same and provide WiHood to families in NYC. I share your concerns and thoughts and as I said, I created WiHood to do something about it!

Mr. Anglero is the chief executive of Wihood.

Forum member johnfalck writes: My 4-year-old has his own login (clicks on the frog logo that has his name). No admin rights. I removed all icons on the desktop except a couple — e.g., Firefox as the browser, and that without the URL line (unclick navigation toolbar). I set his homepage to, with a few other related icon links (Noggin, etc.) along the top.

So far he has not deleted any files, reset BIOS settings, or ended up on eBay — all things he did at age three when he started banging away on someone else’s computer. My advice: Don’t confuse the ability to do bad things with interest or understanding. (“Daddy, why is the computer screen blue?”) Give a child their own login and make it as safe (limited) in functionality as you can or as is appropriate for the child’s age.

Re the importance of balance: Computer play is not a right. My son will start by saying, “I’ve been pretty good today, can I play on the computer?” And once the snow melts there will be more “go and play outside” instead. But when I’m trying to cook dinner and keep an eye on his 18-month-old sister, 20 minutes of computer time for him sounds great to me.

Forum member joeyjunior writes: Our son is 5 years old as well and has had his own desktop PC since he was 3. We got him his own inexpensive PC, primarily so he would not accidentally wreck our other PCs by downloading something or hitting the wrong keys. We keep the PC in the family room, have it locked down with Internet-monitoring software, and participate with him when he uses it.

Our objective was not to make him a super computer geek — on the contrary, we wanted him to consider a PC an everyday appliance. I deal everyday with technophobes, tech geniuses and everyone in between, and I have found that there is a fascination curve with technology: Once the “Oooo, ahhh, wow” factor has run its course, most people use their PCs as tools. We simply wanted to accelerate that curve.

So far it has worked well: Our son is not obsessed with the PC, ignores it for weeks at a time, and is rarely on it for more than 45 minutes. We have been fully prepared to allocate computer time and require him to go outside and play, but by having the PC always available, it’s not a big deal to him and he keeps his use to a minimum. Like it or not, computers are here to stay — best to get the fascination over with and teach children responsible computing from the start.



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