Alcone Marketing Group – Consumer Lab

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

“Paper” or Plastic? Gift Cards and the Changing Face of Gifting

The Hartman Group, Inc. : HartBeat

Environmental issues may be forcing grocery stores and other retailers to rethink and replace one type of plastic (the plastic bag), while plastic of another kind, the prepaid gift card, is quickly supplanting “paper” as the gift of choice for a majority of American consumers.

The gift card market is a multi-billion dollar industry. Prepaid gift cards have seemingly become the perfect answer to the age-old question of “what to give” for any occasion. Extending beyond other old-fashioned forms (e.g., cash, checks, paper gift certificates) and morphing to include diverse categories (retail, phone, books, movies, music, debit/credit) gift card buying and giving continues to gain in popularity.

According to Gift Cards Purchase & Redemption, Pre-Holiday Outlook 2008, a report by The Hartman Group, Inc. and A National Research Network (NRN), nearly three-quarters of Americans have either purchased or received a gift card over the past year. Gift cards change how consumers shop for any number of gift-giving occasions, the most important of which is the holiday shopping season.


Filed under: gift giving, holidays

What Dads Want For Father’s Day: Tools, TVs And … Cheese

It goes without saying that both Home Depot and Lowe’s, already
positioned as Dad’s dream emporiums, are offering plenty of promotions, both
online and in stores. And in the hardware department, Sears’ Craftsman has also
outdone itself. –


MediaPost Publications – What Dads Want For Father’s Day: Tools, TVs And … Cheese – 06/12/2008
While Father’s Day is never quite the blessing to retailers that Mother’s Day is–with consumers spending about $9.6 billion on dad versus $15.8 billion on mom—stores are being extra clever this year in their attempts to woo gift buyers.

Filed under: advertising, Consumer, holidays, Men

Father’s Day Lament: ‘No Mon, No Fun, Your Son’

] Fewer consumers–70% versus 77% last year–plan to buy one or more
gifts this Father’s Day. Furthermore, they’ll spend $115 on average, or 8% less
than in 2007, according to the 2008 installment of an annual survey conducted
by Brand Keys. This year, so few reported planning to buy dad a computer that
this item didn’t even make the list.


MediaPost Publications – Father’s Day Lament: ‘No Mon, No Fun, Your Son’ – 05/29/2008

The sinking economy affected Mother’s Day spending a bit, and it looks like it’s going to hurt fathers even more.

Fewer consumers–70% versus 77% last year–plan to buy one or more gifts this Father’s Day.

Filed under: Consumer, economy, gift giving, holidays

Beer Drinkers To Buy 21 Million Cases For Memorial Day

Millennials are more adventurous than their elders. They are much more
inclined to buy imported and craft (smaller-brewery) brands–a factor of having
grown up with a “wider flavor palette” than Boomers. “This
started back when they were kids, with the wide variety of juice boxes available
to them, and it’s continued on as they’ve aged, with today’s wider palette of
alcoholic beverages,” says Nielsen’s Nick Lake


MediaPost Publications – Beer Drinkers To Buy 21 Million Cases For Memorial Day – 05/16/2008
For brewers, summer–not Christmas–is the most wonderful time of the year.

Memorial Day kicks off prime beer-drinking season, and this year, U.S. adults are expected to buy a whopping 21 million cases (worth $381 million retail) in major supermarkets alone during the two weeks surrounding the holiday, according to the latest category data from The Nielsen Company.

Filed under: Beer, Consumer, Gen Y, holidays

Holy Days And Monday Bring St. Patrick Down

Retailers and restaurants that benefit from the St. Patrick’s Day holiday are
up against a double whammy of an early Easter and the holiday falling on a
Monday, according to the National Retail Federation.


MediaPost Publications – Holy Days And Monday Bring St. Patrick Down – 03/17/2008
THIS ST. PATRICK’S DAY MAY be a little more blue than green for retailers, with Americans expected to spend about $3.6 billion unleashing their inner leprechauns, down from $3.76 billion.

The National Retail Federation, based on a consumer poll conducted by BIGresearch, says that while the average person “will spend slightly more on the holiday than they did last year [$35.04 vs. $34.89], fewer people will be celebrating this year [46.0% in 2008 vs. 48.3% in 2007].”

Filed under: holidays

Valentine’s Day gifts must be politically correct these days

Many retailers are getting on board with trends towards environmentally conscious, eco-friendly, fair trade and fair labor this Valentine’s Day.


Valentine’s Day gifts must be politically correct these days –
There was a time when it was politically correct to hand your loved one a valentine, a box of chocolates, a bouquet of flowers and, perhaps, a bottle of perfume on Valentine’s Day.

That time may be gone.

To be PC this year, the valentine needs to be paperless, the chocolates should be organic, the flowers must be Fair Trade-certified and the perfume — better check that it was made without animal experiments.

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Filed under: Consumer, CPG, eco-friendly, environment, Fragrance, holidays, trends

Scrooge, Cupid Hook Up As Recession Bites Romance

Only 61% of men plan to buy a card, for example, compared with 69% last year,
and only 40% will buy candy, compared with 44% last year. Flowers and
perfume–also V-Day standbys–both came in flat, at 49% and 6%, respectively. A
few smaller categories registered slight gains, including fine jewelry (12%,
compared with 10% from last year), lingerie (8%, compared to 6% from last year),
and clothing, up to 7% from 5% last year.


MediaPost Publications – Scrooge, Cupid Hook Up As Recession Bites Romance – 02/11/2008
A NEW SURVEY SHOWS THAT while many retailers are hoping Valentine’s Day might provide a much-needed sales spark, consumer spending may well be more frugal than passionate.

While men say they are planning to spend a little more than last year —$95 compared to $92 in 2007–women are cutting back, and say they intend to plan to spend just $67, compared with $74 last year, reports TNS Retail Forward, a consulting group in Columbus, Ohio.

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Filed under: Chocolate, Consumer, Fragrance, gift giving, holidays

NPD Reports Men’s Fragrance Sells Best for Valentine’s Day

Men’s fragrance does best sales-wise, for Valentine’s Day, according to The NPD Group.


NPD Reports Men’s Fragrance Sells Best for Valentine’s Day
PORT WASHINGTON, NEW YORK, February 6, 2008 – It’s no surprise that fragrance is a popular Valentine’s Day gift, but it’s who’s giving and who’s getting that might surprise you. According to The NPD Group, in February 2007, men’s prestige fragrance sales* captured more of the dollar share for total fragrances than in previous years. Men’s fragrances for that month grew to represent 37 percent of total fragrance sales, up from 35 percent in February 2005.

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Filed under: Consumer, Fragrance, holidays, Men, Women

Roses Are Green: This V-Day, ‘Fair-Trade’ Is Floral Buzzword

While the differences in the designations are potentially confusing to shoppers
who want to dig deeper into the intricacies of Central American child labor laws
or the relative toxicity of various fertilizers, the bigger picture is that,
increasingly, consumers are looking for more evidence that they’re buying
earth-friendly flowers, not toxic little pesticide bombs.


MediaPost Publications – Roses Are Green: This V-Day, ‘Fair-Trade’ Is Floral Buzzword – 02/04/2008
WHILE “GREEN” FLOWERS HAVE BEEN on high-end consumers’ radar for several years now, this Valentine’s Day may well be the tipping point. Sam’s Club, owned by Wal-Mart, and 1-800-Flowers have begun selling Fair Trade-certified flowers, making the once-niche products available to the flower-buying masses.

The Fair Trade certification, administered by TransFair USA, a nonprofit group, is available only on a handful of imports, including coffee, tea, vanilla, chocolate, and sugar. It joins several other floral designations, including VeriFlora, administered by an independent company, and the 10-year-old Florverde, an effort of the Colombian floral industry.

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Filed under: advertising, Consumer, eco-friendly, holidays, trends

Valentine’s Day Retail Spend Expected To Be Flat

Valentine’s Day retail is expected to remain flat this year, with traditional gifts like candy, flowers and jewelry seeing a slight decrease in popularity, while gift cards continue to ride high.


MediaPost Publications – Valentine’s Day Retail Spend Expected To Be Flat – 01/30/2008
ACCORDING TO THE NATIONAL RETAIL Federation’s 2008 Valentine’s Day Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, conducted by BIGresearch, the average consumer plans to spend $122.98 on Valentine’s Day, similar to last year’s $119.67. Total spending on Valentine’s Day is expected to reach $17.02 billion.

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Filed under: Consumer, holidays

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