Alcone Marketing Group – Consumer Lab

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

Consumers Cut Back On Everything But Driving, Study Finds

Prices are on the rise in just about every industry – which is a little scary considering that major corporations have been cutting jobs. A recent survey from Kelley Blue Book finds that consumers are making changes to their purchase habits to cut costs. In particular, they are spending less on non-essential retail items and dining & entertainment.

MediaPost Publications – Consumers Cut Back On Everything But Driving, Study Finds – 04/25/2008

Rising gas prices are already taking a toll on Americans’ discretionary spending –all the way up to influencing purchasing a new house–according to new marketing research from Kelley Blue Book.

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Filed under: Consumer, economy, entertainment, financial, living target, shopping

Thinking Twice About That $400 Handbag

The phenomenon earned many nicknames — mass affluence, new luxury,
masstige — and posited that Americans with household
incomes of $50,000 and above tend to “trade up” to high-end products in
categories like kitchen appliances or bedding that are emotionally
important to them, while perhaps pinching pennies elsewhere to

But trading up was always a fragile phenomenon. It rested, in large
part, on consumer psychology — a feeling of wealth derived from soaring
home values and the steady growth of real income, that is, income
adjusted for inflation.

Today, any growth in real income is all
but canceled out in consumers’ minds by falling home prices and rising
energy costs. Michael J. Kowalski, the chief executive of Tiffany,
calls this “the wealth affect.”


Thinking Twice About That $400 Handbag – New York Times
IT was a retail juggernaut that swept through America’s shopping malls and bedroom closets, rewriting the rules of class and consumption.

But affordable luxury is not looking so affordable — or sustainable — anymore.

the 2007 holiday shopping season, the middle-class consumers who spent
the last decade splurging on $300 saucepans and $600 scarves, tightened
their purse strings in the face of slipping home prices and rising
energy costs.

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Filed under: advertising, Consumer, fashion, living target, positioning, trends

Higher Food Prices Start to Pinch Consumers

The biggest jump in food prices in 17 years has forced shoppers to find creative ways to save money.


Higher Food Prices Start to Pinch Consumers –
With the rising cost of milk, eggs, meat and produce contributing to the biggest jump in food prices in 17 years, consumers are starting to feel the pinch.

Some shoppers, already dealing with falling home values and rising fuel costs, are finding creative ways to save, opting for cheaper ingredients and private-label goods and leaning more heavily on discount grocers. And restaurant diners, who have been eating out less frequently, will likely face even higher prices on menus.

Filed under: Consumer, CPG, In Store, living target

Rock this way! You, too, can be a music star at fantasy camp

Rock-n-Roll camps are still very much alive and well. And now with the success of video games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band, the next natural step is to pick up an actual guitar and rock out for real!


Rock this way! You, too, can be a music star at fantasy camp –
Life was nagging at Hyun-Joo Park. Too many 14-hour days staring at a computer screen. Not enough time getting her 28-year-old ya-yas out.

So she did what any sensible Wall Street banker would do.

Hopped a flight to Las Vegas. Joined a rock ‘n’ roll band. And for four days screamed herself hoarse while perfecting — with the help of guitar hero Slash — a respectable rendition of Guns N’ Roses’ Paradise City, the climax of which found her leaping off a stack of amplifiers with Axl Rose-like gusto.

Filed under: Branded Entertainment, Consumer, experiential, living target

Consumers Resolve: Lose Weight, Quit Smoking, New Job

But thanks to economic worries, “we expect people to focus a lot of time and
energy improving their careers and getting out of debt,” Nielsen reports. It
expects resolutions related to debt reduction to increase sharply. And it says
resolutions related to saving money will rise, from 11% to 24% of all
finance-related resolutions.


MediaPost Publications – Consumers Resolve: Lose Weight, Quit Smoking, New Job – 12/28/2007
LOSING WEIGHT AND QUITTING SMOKING aren’t just some of the most common resolutions Americans make every year–they are some of the most lucrative. The Nielsen Company estimates that in January, consumers will spend more than $61 million on anti-smoking aids, and more than $47 million on diet aids. The Schaumberg, Ill.-based company says anti-smoking products generated 8.7% of annual dollar sales in January last year, while nutritional diet aids generated 9.9%.

Filed under: Consumer, diet, living target

Gaming Nearly Ubiquitous among Kids Online, One-Third Have Email Address

A new study confirms that kids really do love playing games online. Close to 80% of kids age 6 to 11 play online games, the largest percentage performing any online activity.


Gaming Nearly Ubiquitous among Kids Online, One-Third Have Email Address – Marketing Charts
Nearly 8 in 10 children (78.1%) age 6-11 report they play online games – by far the largest percentage performing any online activity, according to (pdf) the “2007 American Kids Survey” from Mediamark Research and Intelligence (MRI).

The percentage of boys and girls who play online games was virtually the same, 77.7% vs. 78.5%, respectively. Boys are much more likely to report they go online to get tips or cheats* for their gaming: One-quarter of boys (25.8%) versus only 5.6% of girls.

Filed under: Consumer, digital, Games, Gaming, Gen Y, interactive, Internet, living target, technology, Teens, Tweens, websites Gears Up For Valentine’s Day Launch

The site, which targets women 18 to 44, will be ad-supported, allowing sponsors
to buy video ad overlays, ShoeTube Boutique microsites, banners, and contest and
polling efforts. So far, Nine West has signed on to promote its 30th anniversary
as well as the launch of its fall 2008 boot line.


MediaPost Publications – Gears Up For Valentine’s Day Launch – 12/26/2007
BETTING THAT THERE IS NO end in sight for American women’s obsession with shoes, Powderhouse Productions is getting ready to launch, a web channel devoted to nothing but shoes. (okay, there will be a little bit about boots, too.)

Programming for the site–scheduled to launch on Valentine’s Day–includes eight regular segments, says Marcy McCreary, director of new media, marketing and sales for the Somerville, Mass.-based company. “Pimp my Pump,” for example, allows women to show off their own shoe embellishments; “Walk on By” features woman-on-the-street videos shot in major U.S. cities, and “Real or Deal” invites contestants to decide whether a designer shoe is real or a knock-off.

Filed under: Branded Entertainment, clothing, Consumer, digital, fashion, living target, Media, trends, viral, VOD, websites, Women, Young Adults

Why the Perfume Business Is Beginning to Stink

More than 200 new prestige perfumes–those sold in department stores and
cosmetics shops, rather than drugstores or supermarkets–were unveiled in the
U.S. in 2006, according to NPD Group. But sales of these high-end
perfumes–which make up 60% of the overall fragrance market — have been
slowing. Total revenue is expected to grow less than 3% globally this year,
according to Euromonitor, while the overall luxury goods sector is up by about

The reason is olfactory overkill. To lure consumers, perfume brands
have mounted huge advertising and distribution campaigns, selling perfumes in
their own boutiques as well as in department stores and airport duty-free shops
world-wide. They have also kept prices low; while high-end leather bags and
sunglasses have steadily risen in price, most designer perfumes still cost less
than $100.


Why the Perfume Business Is Beginning to Stink –
PARIS — After years of gorging on celebrity scents and fashion-house fragrances, consumers are turning up their noses at designer perfumes.

“The offer is so enormous, you get lost going into a perfume shop,” says Daniela Andrier, a perfume-maker at Swiss fragrance company Givaudan SA. “It’s like eating off a plate with too much food and you lose your appetite.”

Over the past few years, exclusive fashion brands such as Prada, Gucci and Hermès have been churning out new fragrances as a way to ensnare consumers who can’t afford their $5,000 bags, but will splurge on a $100 bottle of “eau de toilette.” Celebrities such as Jennifer Lopez and Celine Dion have also unveiled eponymous fragrance lines.

Filed under: advertising, Consumer, Fragrance, living target, luxury

New Balance To Launch Girly-Girl Sneaker Line

Shoe marketers are scrambling to find the best
ways to sell shoes, now that high-priced athletic endorsers make less
sense. Some companies certainly use celebrities, says an industry
analyst, “but for most, it’s been much more about being in the right
kind of retail outlet, as opposed to athletic specialty stores.”


MediaPost Publications – New Balance To Launch Girly-Girl Sneaker Line – 12/18/2007
ADD NEW BALANCE TO THE list of shoe marketers looking to branch out beyond performance shoes: The Boston-based company will launch NB Inside, a women’s line of fashion sneakers next fall. New Balance says its new line is key to its plans to reach $3 billion in sales by 2012. Executives say that over time they hope the new collection, with shoes priced around $125, will account for 25% of company sales.

The new strategy makes plenty of sense. New Balance, which also owns PF Flyers and Dunhams, is a brand best-known for its performance shoes, especially running, walking, and cross-training–all fairly stagnant categories of late. But the fashion category, or women’s low-performance category, is tearing it up: NPD Group says that in the 12-month period ending in October, sales of women’s low-performance athletic footwear increased 31.4% over the same 12-month period the prior year.

Filed under: clothing, fashion, living target, Teens, trends, Women, Young Adults

On Facebook, Scholars Link Up With Data

Researchers are using Facebook habits to study how tastes and values affect the formation of social relationships.


On Facebook, Scholars Link Up With Data – New York Times
Each day about 1,700 juniors at an East Coast college log on to to accumulate “friends,” compare movie preferences, share videos and exchange cybercocktails and kisses. Unwittingly, these students have become the subjects of academic research.

To study how personal tastes, habits and values affect the formation of social relationships (and how social relationships affect tastes, habits and values), a team of researchers from Harvard and the University of California, Los Angeles, are monitoring the Facebook profiles of an entire class of students at one college, which they declined to name because it could compromise the integrity of their research.

Filed under: digital, Gen Y, Internet, living target, research, social networking, websites

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