In the News

  • Inflation Is No Match for Amazon, Walmart in the Grocery Aisle

    • Companies are struggling to pass on higher costs to consumers

  • Exclusive: Catholic Health Initiatives CEO opens up on Dignity Health merger

    With federal insurers cutting Medicare funding for hospitals that have high rates of avoidable admissions, systems are using more resources to find ways to keep at-risk patients healthier and out of their high-acuity facilities, noted Steven Robins, managing partner at the New England Consulting Group. [More..]

  • Can New CEO Brian Niccol Wake Up Chipotle?

    Breakfast? New value deals? Whatever the changes might be, experts expect them to be significant.

  • Michaellbo Ultra launches beer made with organic grains, strengthening appeal to core consumers

    Michelob Ultra has expanded its low-calorie portfolio with the launch of Michelob Ultra Pure Gold, a beer made with organic grains, further tapping into a growing consumer audience seeking a balanced, active lifestyle.


  • Price War Pressures Consumer-Goods Giants

    Procter & Gamble said average prices fell for first time since 2011; rival Kimberly-Clark to slash jobs


  • In 2018, Fast Food Is ‘War’

    It’s expected to be a year of furious discounting in fast food. [More..]

  • 9 Fast Food Trends for 2018

    The major trends restaurant operators can expect in the year ahead.

  • Why Chobani Is Reinventing Itself—and Why It Had No Choice

    When too many imitators spoil the category


  • 5 Technology Trends to Know

    A rundown of what’s new and what’s next in technology as it relates to five aspects of running a restaurant business.

  • Big Pharma Doesn’t Want Health Outcomes To Sway Pricing — At Least Not Yet

    Pharma companies certainly seem to see the need to embrace new payment models. After all, they are facing unprecedented pressure from lawmakers to bring down the prices of their products.

  • Despite CEO exodus, Republicans think tax reform is inoculated from Trump race controversy

    Even as some Republicans criticized Trump for his comments about the weekend violence in Charlottesville, Va., key players suggested that the push for tax reform would proceed apace. Big businesses are putting "100 percent support behind, basically the consolidated Republican position," said Grover Norquist, a conservative activist who as head of Americans for Tax Reform has pushed for a reform of the tax code for years. 

  • Chobani Refocuses Marketing and Sales Around Demand Creation

    Chobani said its marketing budget continues to increase and it will be thinking about where those dollars should be spent. [More..]

  • Why the Biggest Brands Are All In On Digital Ordering

    Consumer demand for convenience boosts mobile apps, kiosk tech at the major quick serves. [More..]

  • Collaboration Fuels a Brighter Future in Fast Casual

    Cutthroat competition gives way to collaborative success that uplifts not only individual brands, but also the industry overall. [More..]

  • More Fast Casuals Move to the Drive Thru

    With 60 to 70 percent of all quick-service business occurring at the drive-thru window, it is no wonder more restaurants are working to add it to their concept, or expanding the number of windows to serve more customers. [More..]

  • CPG Consolidation Fever Heats Up, As Kraft Heinz Pursues Unilever

    Friday morning’s news that Kraft Heinz Co. made an unsuccessful bid to acquire Unilever PLC, while certainly noteworthy, was hardly a surprise in today’s mercilessly competitive consumer product goods business. [More..]

  • 12 Fast Food Trends for 2017

    Here’s what restaurant experts say will be the 12 biggest limited-service trends this year. [More..]

  • Firehouse Subs Drops Marc USA, Hires Richards Group

    The Richards Group was selected following a competitive review, which was supported by The New England Consulting Group. [More..]

  • 10 Reasons Quick-Service Brands Are Selling

    Here are 10 reasons why restaurant chain sales activity seems to be on the uptick, according to three quick-service industry consultants with experience in the mergers and acquisitions (m&a) world. [More..]

  • What the Kraft and Heinz Merger Teaches Us About Protecting American Jobs

    The two companies announced their merger in March 2015 backed by two affluent groups of investors: for Heinz, Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, and for Kraft, Brazilian venture capital fund 3G Capital. With an estimated $10 billion from these investors, the merger was supposed to generate significant synergies in what would become the fifth largest food and beverage company in the world. [More..]

  • Embattled Mayor Bill de Blasio Takes Aim at Chick-fil-A

    When Chick-fil-A announced that it would be opening its third New York location in Queens this fall, many city officials -- including Mayor Bill de Blasio -- recoiled in horror. The mayor is thus urging New Yorkers to avoid eating at the offensive new restaurants, although he does grudgingly acknowledge that they have a right to exist. [More..]

  • Oprah Invests in Weight Watchers, Shares Double

    Media mogul Oprah Winfrey will buy a 10 percent stake in Weight Watchers International Inc (WTW.N), adding her celebrity and consumer appeal to a diet brand that has been shedding subscribers. [More..]

  • General Mills to Sell Green Giant, Le Sueur for $765 Million

    New England Consulting Group Founder and CEO, Gary Stibel, is quoted on B&G Foods' acquisition of the Green Giant and Le Sueur brands. [More..]

  • Down to a Science

    Gary Stibel, Founder and CEO of The New England Consulting Group, is quoted on best practices for QSR R&D test labs. [More..]

  • New breed of food execs raised on mergers, not marketing

    New England Consulting Group Founder and CEO Gary Stibel offers analysis on the new class of food executives. [More..]

  • Restaurants balance sustainability with supply, cost issues

    Chains comply as consumers increasingly demand responsible actions [More..]

  • New Chevy ads elevate ‘focus groups’

    Colorado campaign success prompts broader rollout. [More..]

  • Best bet for Kraft Heinz: Un-Kraft

    Kraft's richest assets may be ingrained in its storied past, but under Heinz, the trick will be to transport the likes of Jell-O, Cheez Whiz and Kool-Aid into modern-day relevance. [More..]

  • 3G to use its cost-cutting playbook on Kraft after Heinz merger

    New England Consulting Group CEO Gary Stibel discusses consolidation in the food industry. [More..]

  • Food Industry Just Starting To Digest Kraft, Heinz Merger Implications

    Managing Partner David Stone discusses the implications of the Kraft Heinz merger. [More..]

  • Heinz, Kraft to create world’s No. 5 food company

    New England Consulting Group CEO Gary Stibel discusses the Kraft Heinz merger. [More..]

  • Five Things You Should Know About Heinz-Kraft Merger

    Ad Spending Will Come Under Microscope, Global Outlay Will Expand [More..]

  • What the Kraft–Heinz merger means for restaurants

    Combined company could ignite more mergers in the foodservice industry [More..]

  • Meat Matters: The Protein Providers

    Supermarket News Special Report that features NECG insights on the meat aisle and the food service industry. [pdf..]

  • Layoffs hit icons Coke and McDonald’s

    Reality is hitting hard this week — in the form of pink slips — at two of America's most iconic brands. [More..]

  • Is The Supermarket The Next Big Food Trend?

    New England Consulting Group Gary Stibel is interviewed on here & now. [More..]

  • CMO Today: HBO And DirecTV Could Clash Over Streaming Service

    New England Consulting Group CEO Gary Sitbel is featured in the Wall Street Journal's CMO Today blog. [More..]

  • McDonald’s Menu Problem: It’s Supersized

    With 121 Menu Options, Kitchen Service Slows; McWrap as a ‘Showstopper’ [More..]

  • Are restaurant passes the next big thing?

    After Olive Garden’s Pasta Pass drummed up so much attention, independent restaurants are taking notice. [More..]

  • Political targets

    NECG comments on political controversy and business. [More..]

  • What’s Hot for the Holidays

    NECG comments on Supermarket Holiday strategy in a Supermarket News Special Report. [More..]

  • McDonald’s attempts to debunk rumors about its food quality

    New England Consulting Group Project Manager Konrad Gessler offers commentary on McDonald's new marketing campaign. [More..]

  • Experts offer ways to refresh Olive Garden

    Fixing Olive Garden won't be a rose garden. But it's certainly doable. [More..]

  • New Cadillac ad campaign coming in 2015

    General Motors Co.’s storied Cadillac luxury brand, which will open a headquarters in New York City next spring, also has big plans for a marketing and communication splash early next year. [More..]

  • Can Cadillac make it in New York?

    New Cadillac chief Johan de Nysschen is out to forge a new brand culture that's focused on proving its luxury bona fides to well-heeled customers. [More..]

  • Change Agents: Harry’s has shaving in a lather

    Two old friends, Jeff Raider and Andy Katz-Mayfield, decided that the consumer experience around men's shaving products needed a complete make-over, and the result is their e-commerce brainchild, Harry's [More..]

  • Tyson plucks Hillshire for $8 billion-plus

    The food fight that's been raging for weeks appeared to come to an abrupt end on Monday, with chicken colossus Tyson Foods emerging the victor with its offer for Hillshire Brands of $7.7 billion, excluding debt. [More..]

  • Casual dining not appetizing enough for Millennials

    Here's what experts say casual dining chains must immediately do to attract customers, particularly Millennials. [More..]

  • Gillette unveils its costliest cutting-edge razor

    On Tuesday morning, its Gillette unit announced a newfangled, swiveling ball-hinge razor, which — starting at $11.49 — will be one of the most expensive razors on the market. [More..]

  • Chick-fil-A wings in new direction after gay flap

    The iconic chicken chain, as well-known for its conservative heritage as its savory eats, is recalibrating its moral and culinary compass. [More..]

  • Americans Lose Their Taste for Cereal, Soda and Soap

    Makers of Consumer Staples Resort to Aggressive Discounts as Shoppers Struggle to Open Their Wallets. [More..]

  • Red Robin Introduces Wine Milkshake

    Red Robin is now selling the Mango Moscato Wine Shake, a new milkshake made with wine, vodka, mango puree, and vanilla soft serve ice cream. [More..]

  • The latest boozy milkshake: Wine shakes

    Milkshake lovers now have an excuse to toast before slurping — the wine shake is in motion. [More..]

  • Why Are Fast Food Places Jumping Into Breakfast?

    What do you think of some egg and sausage wrapped in a waffle with syrup on the side? Taco Bell is making a big bet you’re willing to try it. [pdf..]

  • Taco Bell Thinks Outside the Breakfast Bun

    New England Consulting Group CEO Gary Stibel discusses the fast food breakfast wars on Bloomberg Television's "Market Makers." [More..]

  • Taco Bell gets breakfast; waffle tacos and more go nationwide in March

    Yum Brands' Taco Bell chain will introduce breakfast foods such as waffle tacos, egg burritos and the bacon A.M. Crunchwrap nationwide on March 27 [More..]

  • Taco Bell Kicks Kids’ Meals, Toys To The Curb

    Taco Bell made news early this week with CEO Greg Creed's announcement that the brand would scrap kids meals and toys by January 2014 - all in the name of kicking up its edgy image and resonating with its target Millennial customers. [pdf..]

  • Ford Focus the Brand Vehicle of Pope’s Humble Car Message – Francis Says Flashy Cars Hurts His Heart by Michael McCarthy

    Does Ford have a friend in high places? Pope Francis is using a Ford Focus compact as a Popemobile to get around Vatican City. That could provide a global marketing boost to the automaker and its Focus nameplate, said experts. [pdf..]

  • Why the McWrap Is So Important to McDonald’s by Susan Berfield

    It's a reality of the fast-food business that what can be ordered in a few words, served up in seconds, and consumed in minutes is often the product of years of research and testing. [pdf..]

  • A Spokesman Finds Fame Interviewing Tiny Experts by Stuart Elliott

    How ubiquitous are those AT&T commercials with the inquisitive guy talking earnestly with the cute, lippy children? So ubiquitous that the guy — a comedian, actor and writer named Beck Bennett — sometimes finds himself, despite his best intentions, watching himself on television. [pdf..]

  • Lexus Makes Big ‘Move’ to Regain Crown With New IS Model And Aggressive Ads, Automaker Aims to Recoup Share Lost to Mercedes, BMW by Michael McCarthy

    Forget about perfection. These days Lexus is locked in a relentless pursuit of BMW and Mercedes-Benz to win back its crown as the top U.S. seller of luxury cars. [pdf..]

  • Table Service Upgrade

    Firehouse Subs, BurgerFi add table service to score real estate in Florida town. [pdf..]

  • Starbucks Stays True to Message with Smoking Ban by Marlee Murpy

    Starbucks made waves in late May when news broke that the brand would ban smoking in its outdoor seating areas and within 25 feet of its entrances. Protestors and advocates alike took to the Internet to voice their support or disapproval of the ban, which took effect June 1. But the smoking ban did not phase Gary Stibel, CEO of the New England Consulting Group, who believes this move was a long time coming. [pdf..]

  • McDonald’s makes late-night menu moves by Mark Brandau

    McDonald's USA has confirmed that it will begin rolling out a "McDonald's After Midnight" menu of breakfast and dinner items in select markets at participating 24-hour locations, marking a significant move into the late-night daypart. [pdf..]

  • Intel’s New Slogan Shifts Its Focus to the Present by Stuart Elliott

    THE “sponsors of tomorrow” have determined that consumers are more interested in the present than the future. [pdf..]

  • Fast-casual pizza concepts raising dough by Lisa Jennings

    Over the past few years a hotter-than-hot niche has emerged within the $40 billion pizza space that many are watching with keen interest. [pdf..]

  • Marketers Remain Cautious Despite Consumer Sentiment Uptick by Jack Neff

    U.S customers are feeling pretty good right now - as good as they have since the pre-recession days of July 2007, according to one recently released key measure. [pdf..]

  • Pills Tracked From Doctor to Patient to Aid Drug Marketing by Katie Thomas

    In the old days, sales representatives from drug companies would chat up local pharmacists to learn what drugs doctors were prescribing. Now such shoulder-rubbing is becoming a quaint memory — thanks to vast databases of patient and doctor information being used by pharmaceutical companies to market drugs. The information allows drug makers to know which drugs a doctor is prescribing and how that compares to a colleague across town. They know whether patients are filling their prescriptions — and refilling them on time. They know details of patients’ medical conditions and lab tests, and sometimes even their age, income and ethnic backgrounds. [pdf..]

  • Sport Sedan Challenge tests key cars for premium brands

    "ONTARIO, Calif. — Luxury automakers love sport sedans, such as the six in our latest face-off, the TODAY/MotorWeek $46,000 Sport Sedan Challenge. These cars yield big profits. As entry-premium sedans, they draw new buyers to the upscale brands. And the cars' size and drivetrains generally deliver better mileage than others in the lineup, helping makers meet fuel-economy rules." [pdf..]

  • McDonald’s Has a Millennial Problem Country’s Biggest Fast Feeder Doesn’t Rank in Top 10 Fave Restaurants Among This Huge and Influential Demo by Abbey Klaassen

    "McDonald's may be the country's No. 1 fast-food chain and one of its most-beloved brands, but when it comes to millennials, the Golden Arches says it doesn't even rank among the demographic's top 10 restaurant chains. It's enough of a concern that McDonald's is launching its biggest product of the year, McWrap, to court a huge and influential cohort that values choice and customization. According to NPD Group, there are 59 million people ages 23 to 36 in the U.S. -- the range it defines as millennials." [pdf..]

  • Lulu Lemon Recall Point Counterpoint

    The yogawear marketer lululemon Athletica reported financial results Thursday morning that beat Wall Street expectations - but said its recall of too-sheer black yoga pants cost it revenue of $12 million to $17 million in the first quarter and will erase another $45 million to $50 million this year. [pdf..]

  • Shopping the Brand by Emily Freeman

    "Quick-service sushi concepts, from How Do You Roll? to Yo! Sushi, have taken off in the U.S., with Americans’ increasingly adventurous palates driving growth. And Genji Sushi, which first opened its doors in Philadelphia in 1997, is a quiet leader in the category, with 165 units. But Genji has a trick up its sleeve that’s helped build the brand into such a sushi success: The concept operates exclusively within Whole Foods Market stores." [pdf..]

  • A look at CEO Bill Johnson, the man behind H.J. Heinz Co by Teresa Lindeman

    "In the 1980s, a couple of young H.J. Heinz Co. managers were visiting grocery stores together. One of them asked the other why he'd left another company to work for the iconic Pittsburgh business. ""He said, 'I want to be CEO,' "" remembers Mike Milone. " [pdf..]

  • When corporate policies become public fodder by Mark Brandau

    Recent controversies on the Facebook pages of Buffalo Wild Wings and Denny’s showed that, even if restaurant brands do not pick sides in heated political arguments, they may not benefit from staying silent either. Gun control and the Second Amendment were launched back into the national conversation after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., last Dec. 14. With advocates for and against gun control primed for arguments on social media, including and especially Facebook, the debate quickly spread to brand pages belonging to restaurants like Denny’s and Buffalo Wild Wings. Those two chains got caught in a storm when corporate policies surrounding firearms — one restricting concealed weapons in restaurants and one allowing only police offers to carry firearms in restaurants — suddenly were thrust into the spotlight. [pdf..]

  • Snack size set to dethrone super size by Kelly Thurman

    "We’ve become a nation of snackers. Whether it’s a quick trip through a fast food drive-through or a stop at the supermarket, diners are eating more often and choosing smaller-sized portions " [pdf..]

  • Flipsides Is Verizon’s ‘Powerful Answers’ campaign genius or a GE knockoff

    "If ""Powerful Answers,"" from agency McGarryBowen, is Verizon's sole advertising execution for 2013, then, yes, it is a little short on brand-name identification, marketing value proposition, target customer benefit and call to action. But if this is one execution in a multifaceted campaign, ""Powerful Answers"" could prove to be very effective. " [pdf..]

  • Cutting Cash Loose by Emily Freeman

    "Paying a tab with dollar bills could soon be a thing of the past, as some quick-service operators are choosing to no longer accept cash for financial and security purposes. TRU Deli & Wine in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, is one such operation. The concept, which opened in August, is a deli by day and wine bar by night, but there is a catch: The restaurant only accepts credit and debit cards as a form of payment." [pdf..]

  • Hostess Shuttering Doors, Ending Era of Iconic Brands by Emily Bryson York

    As passersby gawked, actors pushed red shopping carts brimming with brightly colored packages of candy. These weren't just any chocolate bars, though. The ad will promote a new, all-natural candy brand called "Unreal" that is breaking into the confection space in a big way. [pdf..]

  • Starbucks Article by Lisa Jennings

    Of the once-beaten-down brands to emerge from the recession with a bright future, the Starbucks story is one that resonates. [pdf..]

  • NECG Strategic Planning Process

    Most companies begin every year's strategic planning process much as they have begun previous years'. [pdf..]

  • Can Rory McIlroy Do Better Than Nike by Kristi Dosh

    It seems obvious that pairing up with Rory McIlroy, the hottest player in golf, would be a sure win for Nike. [pdf..]

  • Natural Candy Maker Unreal Tries to Take on Hershey, Mars… by Rupal Parekh

    If you were among the skateboarders and rollerbladers whizzing along California's Venice Beach promenade last Thursday, you may have stumbled onto a shoot for one of the more ambitious product launches in history. [pdf..]

  • Strangled by disposables

    Editor’s note: Every time my seventh-grade gym teacher referred to a tampon, she’d hold it up, stare us down, and say: “Never, ever, flush this — or the applicator — down the toilet.” Whether she was required to say it or married to a plumber, I don’t know. Didn’t matter. We got the message. [pdf..]

  • Flipsides Samsung’s Iphone – Mocking

    Samsung's current advertising in de/offense of the Galaxy S3 versus iPhone 5 is nothing short of brilliant. [pdf..]

  • How To Win In Retail

    Starbucks’ market saturation has become a pop-culture touchstone. The chain has more than 17,000 retail locations worldwide, and a sizable majority of those are in the U.S. More than a few jokes have sprouted up around the seeming omnipresence of the Starbucks brand. [pdf..]

  • At your finger tips by LisaJennings

    The automat is back.
 No, not the turn-of-the-
century version by Horn & Hardart, a once-popular chain of self-service food vending outlets where guests would drop in a nickel, lift a little door and pull out a sandwich. But an infinitely more modern version with the same self-service orientation designed to give time-starved consumers an affordable treat wherever they are, whenever they want it.

  • The Next Evolution of Key Dept by Al Heller

    Delis are key to supermarkets meshing with new American eating patterns. [pdf..]

  • Is Your Brand On Target

    It used to be that the way to a man's heart was through his stomach. These days, however, it would appear the way to reach a man's - or woman's - stomach is through the heart. [pdf..]

  • Mergers & Acquisitions

    The investment banking firm Brocair Partners, which serves the healthcare industry, pulled together a report where it compares a number of dental companies and the types of products they provide. [pdf..]

  • MDPA

    As is well known, diabetes is a highly complex disease with a wide array of causes, co-morbidities, and complication factors including age, weight, body mass index, high blood pressure, lack of exercise, income and a host of other significant issues. [pdf..]

  • A Friendly New Co Brand by Kevin Hardy

    Hugs Pet Products [pdf..]

  • Michaels Stores Look Towards IPO

    Pugz Shoes, booties for dogs, are one novel entry of more than 500 competitors in Walmart's Get on the Shelf contest. Only three winners will be added to Walmart's product base. [pdf..]

  • Kids’ meals grow stronger by Paul Frumkin

    Hugs Pet Products [pdf..]

  • The Money In Munchies – Is Snack Consumption on the Rise by Rebecca Lipman

    Packaged-food companies are hoping the U.S. comes down with a serious case of the munchies. At least, we can assume that's the idea given the amount of growth packaged-food companies hope to see from their snacks businesses. (STAY AHEAD OF THE CURVE: Follow Kapitall on Twitter) [pdf..]

  • Starbucks Evolution Fresh

    On Monday, the world's biggest coffee chain will open its very first retail store - dubbed Evolution Fresh - that will not be centered on the coffee cup, but instead, on the juice bottle. [pdf..]

  • Reaching Out To Hispanic Consumers By Mark Brandau

    Goodbye grind. Hello squeeze. [pdf..]

  • Firms Hope Snacks Bring Big Profits in Small Bags by Paul Ziobro

    Facing stagnant growth in their base grocery business, packaged-food companies are increasingly turning to snacks as an avenue for growth. The companies hope to capitalize on American consumers who continue to snack more throughout the day, and on trends in developing markets, such as more women entering the workplace and the spread of modern retail formats. [pdf..]

  • Flood of Low-end Luxury cars aims to batter BMW 3 series

    "A bare-knuckles fight is about to begin for low-end luxury-car buyers.Never mind that small cars generally don't go over well with American buyers. Or that the recession left fewer people with enough cash or credit for a lux-mobile." [pdf..]

  • Is McDonald’s Losing That Lovin’ Feeling by Maureen Morrison

    Most marketers would love to be McDonald's. [pdf..]

  • Panera Opens in Manhatten, Competition Happy

    When Panera Bread's 1,500th store opens Tuesday, Feb. 7, it will be the company's first location in Manhattan. [pdf..]

  • Tylenol Rivalstry to Lock in Post-recall Product back on shelves by Jack Neff

    After a series of recalls and government-mandated plant shutdowns, Johnson & Johnson's iconic Tylenol brand has become a shadow of its former self. But with J&J slowly increasing production and eyeing a possible return to full availability by next year, competitors are ramping up marketing efforts to lock in their gains. [pdf..]

  • Reconsidering The Value of Promotions, Deals

    When same-store sales at Applebee’s turned negative in the third quarter after being positive for more than a year, officials at Glendale, Calif.-based parent DineEquity Inc. blamed a Stacked Stuffed & Topped limited-time offer that just didn’t resonate with guests. Earlier in the year, DineEquity also charged an all-you-can-eat pancake offer at sister brand IHOP with bringing down results. [pdf..]

  • Burger chains battle to lead the pack

    If you drove into a McDonald’s restaurant 10 or 15 years ago, you undoubtedly would have been greeted with a bright red-and-yellow sign boasting that the chain had served billions and billions of burgers around the globe.
 These days, however, those signs are not quite so ubiquitous, as McDonald’s menu focus has shifted away from being a burger-centric business to one featuring a broader, more quality-conscious array of products appealing to a wider audience. [pdf..]

  • Mad Men effect More women get a taste for whiskey

    As a graduate student on a budget, Heather Greene found herself turning to whiskey — and not for the reasons you might think. Rather, it was a practical decision: a long-time wine drinker, she would often buy a bottle just to have a glass in the evening. But a few days later, she was left with a vintage gone stale — that is, if she hadn't drank the whole thing herself so as not to waste it. She figured out that a tumbler of Scotch at home only cost $4 — and she could just cork it for the next time. In the course of being frugal, she started to love Scotch. [pdf..]

  • McD, Taco Bell have different plans in 2012

    Taco Bell has big ambitions for its menu next year, fueled in part by its plan to “reinvent the taco” and extend its breakfast platform to additional markets in the West. By contrast, McDonald’s is expected to take an incremental approach in 2012, bolstering its many platforms like McCafé beverages or Angus Third Pounders with new flavors while deploying limited-time offers.  [pdf..]

  • 10 Things Candy Makers Won’t Tell You

    With consumer confidence low and unemployment high, Americans aren't buying cars, houses and appliances. But they're not giving up their Snickers, Reese's or M&M's. This year through May, confectionery sales were up 4.3% compared to the same period last year, according to the National Confectioners Association. In fact, it's on pace to be the best year for the sweets industry in at least a decade and handily trouncing the soft drinks business, which has been declining over the last few years. [pdf..]

  • Kraft’s Tang Powdered Drink Crosses Billion by Dollar Mark

    Kraft's Tang brand becomes its 12th billion-dollar brand. Tang sales have doubled in four years. [pdf..]

  • Singapore Free Listing GMS

    Gary Stibel, Founder and CEO of the New England Consulting Group, and his team were kind enough to take the time from their busy schedules to answer a few questions about the New England Consulting Group, about their Global Singapore business Practice, and about the international management consulting industry. [pdf..]

  • Why Is T-Mobile Losing Customers – JJR Quoted

    T-Mobile reported its earnings for the previous quarter early this morning, and the dump of information included one, somewhat troubling statistic: the cellphone carrier actually lost customers last fall—the only one of the four major providers to do so. Why are T-Mobile's customers seemingly in such a hurry to ditch the service? [pdf..]

  • Global Business Practice – Interview

    Gary Stibel, Founder and CEO of the New England Consulting Group, and his team were kind enough to take the time from their busy schedules to answer a few questions about the New England Consulting Group, about their Global Business Practice, and about the international management consulting industry. [pdf..]

  • Forbes Article Super Bowl ROI By Gary Stibel

    This year's Super Bowl made for a great game, both on and off the field. On the field, two great teams went helmet-to-helmet in a battle of brawn. Both were winners. Off the field, hundreds of marketers went head-to-head in a battle of brains. Most were losers. [pdf..]

  • Spending Spree Buoys Outlook For Recovery

    Consumers spent a lot over the holidays and should keep it up this year. Economists say that will embolden companies to expand and hire. [pdf..]

  • Gesture Control, 3D, Mobile Transforming Gaming Market

    Looking back years from now, 2010 will be seen as a halcyon year in video gaming history thanks to three disparate developments: [pdf..]

  • Shoppers Won’t Lose Energy in 2011, Economists say

    Shoppers' holiday-season splurge was likely a preview of what's to come in 2011, and economists say it should embolden companies to expand and hire. [pdf..]

  • The Great Fast-Food Pig-Out of 2011 Is Almost Upon Us

    Many fast food restaurants are planning a pig-out for 2011, introducing indulgent, high-calorie menu items, like a six-cheese, double bacon pizza from Papa John's (PZZA) and an "ultimate breakfast platter" from Burger King, which has 1,300 calories and could feed an entire family. [pdf..]

  • Jan 1 ‘The Big White One’

    Westport, CT—After better-than expected Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Super Saturday and Day After Christmas retail sales, some analysts say the next big hit for retailers could come as early as New Year’s Day. “This will be the biggest January we’ve ever seen at retail,” Gary Stibel, chief executive of the New England Consulting Group, told Crain’s New York Business. While preliminary results point to the 2010 holiday season sales may hit an all-time high, Stibel said shoppers are spending more now to make up for a terrible 2009. [pdf..]

  • Retailers wish for huge sales on New Year’s Day

    Analysts say consumers will turn New Year's Day into the "Big White One" and keep shopping through January, but the rest of 2011 looks rocky for retail. The gifting season is over, but the shopping is not yet done, according to some retail experts. January is expected to bring in a big sales haul for retailers as consumers continue spending from Christmas. [pdf..]

  • – PlayStation Phone is Real, Say Analysts

    This week, several technology sites posted videos that purported to show a PlayStation Phone made by Sony Ericsson — a device that hasn't been officially announced or acknowledged by the company, if it even exists at all. But analysts covering the mobile gaming industry say it almost certainly does. "This is something that we believe is coming," says Dave Halas, a gaming analyst with the New England Consulting Group, which advises telecom and gaming companies. "We're trying to prepare people we work with for the possibility of this." [pdf..]

  • Washington Post – Consumers are buying for themselves this holiday

    Consumers are adding a very important name back to their holiday shopping lists this year: their own. [pdf..]

  • More consumers buying for themselves this holiday

    Consumers are adding a very important name back to their holiday shopping lists this year: their own. The percentage of shoppers who say they plan to indulge in a little something extra for themselves has risen four points since last year to more than 57 percent - the biggest jump in at least six years, according to an industry survey. Sales of jewelry, apparel and consumer electronics are up so far this holiday season from last year, and experts attribute part of the boost to what has become known as "self-gifting." [pdf..]

  • NYT – Survyes – Christmas Spending May Not Be So Jolly

    Although the Christmas shopping season is off to a strong start, some surveys of consumers are flashing red lights rather than green ones as to what the mood among retailers and marketers might be on Dec.26. [pdf..]

  • Forbes – From Focus Groups to Friend Groups

    Arguing that focus groups were never really all that effective in the first place, agencies and research facilities have introduced a variety of methods aimed at shaking up the traditional focus group approach. Young & Laramore, which has done work for clients like Procter & Gamble and PepsiCo, is one such practitioner. Instead of focus groups, the Indianapolis-based agency frequently runs what company president Tom Denari calls “friendship groups.” That’s when the company will tap one consumer and ask that individual to recruit two or three others from his/her social circle. The assumption is that one is more likely to be comfortable in an experimental setting when with others in one’s social network. [pdf..]

  • SN – Retailers hope their new premium brands will gain a place at this year’s holiday table

    "Tis the season to be jolly. But putting an even bigger spring in price-conscious shoppers' step is a flurry of private-label introductions timed to the holiday season. Helping fulfill Americans' wish list are competitively priced imported products and premium fare suitable for the most discerning holiday guest. " [pdf..]

  • NRN – Wendy’s tests new line of burgers in Las Vegas

    Wendy’s is testing a new line of premium burgers in the Las Vegas market named for the chain's founder, Dave Thomas, and promoting them with commercials starring his daughter. Dave’s Hot ’N Juicy Cheeseburgers feature a thicker, quarter-pound patty and new ingredients like crinkle-cut pickles on a buttered, toasted bun. The upgraded burgers are being advertised in Las Vegas as single-, double- and triple-patty varieties and are being tested at different prices, said Denny ... [pdf..]

  • NRN – Cracking the customer code to unlock your sales potential

    The Great Recession may officially be history, but many American consumers have yet to act on the news. Although trend watchers find that Americans are slightly more upbeat than they had been in the depths of the downturn, they remain wary when it comes to dining out and are not expected to return to pre-recession-level spending anytime soon. “Confidence has remained relatively unchanged for more than a year,” said Lynn Franco, director of the consumer research center for The ... [pdf..]

  • Consumers Soon to feed through

    "Consumers are faced with sharply rising food prices. Kevin Gaffney had to face up to a double setback on Friday. The 53-year-old, made redundant by the airline that employed him at London’s Heathrow airport, was obliged to sign on for jobseeker’s allowance for the first time. And just when his income was at an unhappy ebb, what struck him at the supermarket where he stopped off for provisions was ... Kevin Gaffney had to face up to a double setback on Friday. The 53-year-old, made redundant by the airline that employed him at London’s Heathrow airport, was obliged to sign on for jobseeker’s allowance for the first time. And just when his income was at an unhappy ebb, what struck him at the supermarket where he stopped off for provisions was ..." [pdf..]

  • $2 Price Point Could Be Game Changing, At Least for Taco Bell

    In less than a week, the quick-service industry has experienced two dramatic price-point shifts at both ends of the spectrum. First Taco Bell introduced the $2 combo meal — a entrée plus a bag of Doritos and medium soft drink. Now, Burger King has bone-in ribs priced up to $9 for an eight-piece combo meal. Of the two strategies, restaurant industry consultants with Westport, Conn.-based New England Consulting Group say Taco Bell's may be the bolder move. [pdf..]

  • The Truth About Food Spending in America

    At Bundle, we have a healthy obsession with spending. How much, where, on what — and often, how to do a little less of it. In our short life, we've noticed something: our conversations about money keep circling back to food. Restaurant week specials. Bringing our lunches. Bottled water. Growing our own vegetables. Our salaries are set. So is our rent. Clothes and other big-ticket items are periodic expenses. But when it comes to food, we get several chances a day to save or splurge. Brian Wansink, the director of the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University, estimates we make 227 decisions about what to eat every day — each of which has a small financial impact. Go out for drinks after work? Buy the Hershey's chocolate bar or spring for the Lindt? And couldn't we just order takeout? Because after a day's worth of food-and-spending decisions, I'm too exhausted to think about cooking. [pdf..]

  • People and Accouts of Note in Advertising

    "Bailey Gardiner, San Diego, hired four employees. They are: Jen Jenkins, public relations account coordinator; Sayamon Riddang, graphic designer; Maria Swanson, advertising account supervisor; and Ryan Thompson, advertising account supervisor. Brunner, Pittsburgh, opened Brunner Mobile, a unit specializing in mobile marketing. " [pdf..]

  • Domino’s Illustrates Power of Rational Appeals

    "Domino's Pizza's recent sales surge is one compelling reminder of the power of a clear benefit appeal and intelligent execution, as opposed to advertising that entertains but falls short on results, in the opinion of at least one marketing consultant. ""In a world that believes that advertising must be entertaining, Domino's is winning with a rational product message that is honest, informative and persuasive,"" asserts Gary Stibel, founder/CEO of Westport, Conn.-based marketing management consultancy New England Consulting Group. (Domino's is not a client.) " [pdf..]

  • CPG Sales Set for More Online Growth

    Online sales of consumer packaged goods are projected to rise from $12 billion to $16 billion by 2012, a 25 percent increase. "We think the segment will grow at above-average rates and then settle in to be a small part of the overall market," said the New England Consulting Group's Gary Stibel. [pdf..]

  • Why Johnson & Johnson Recall of Children’s Tylenol Matters

    So far the market has largely yawned at Johnson & Johnson's (JNJ) recall of consumer products like Children's Tylenol and Children's Zyrtec -- the shares rose 44 cents Wednesday to $65.14. But as the manufacturing problems at the company's Fort Washington, Pa., plant continue to grab headlines, the real pain for J&J could be the tarnishing of its vaunted brand.   [pdf..]

  • Popeyes – Improving the Experience

    Every quick-service executive knows focusing on the guest experience is important. Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen learned just how important as it used customer input to turn the company's sales around. That was no small feat, especially during a recession. [pdf..]

  • Wal-Mart Looks for Aldi-Buster Format

    Wal-Mart benefited during the Great Recession as consumers traded down to its stores to buy everyday items at prices lower than where they had been shopping before. At the same time, it seems, some of Wal-Mart's shoppers were following a similar pattern by going to smaller, limited-assortment grocery stores such as Aldi and Save-A-Lot to reduce their food bills. [pdf..]

  • Beyond the Big Box – Wal-Mart Thinks Smaller

    Wal-Mart Stores Inc. became the largest retailer by building sprawling stores in suburbs and rural towns. But now it is exploring opening a number of small outposts to penetrate the nation's cities and fight the spread of no-frills grocery chains, which are luring away some of its core customers. [pdf..]

  • Popeyes Pay Day Pays Off Slower This Year

    Last April 22, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen Pay Day offer hit at a time consumers were starving for value. Consumers waited for hours in lines that wrapped around the stores or down the street. Some stores ran out of chicken or closed early. Multiple media outlets reported on the chaotic situation. Social media channels were abuzz with consumers praising and chiding Popeyes, depending on their experience. [pdf..]

  • Coke and Pepsi Moving Beyond the Good Times

    Coke and Pepsi ads used to be all about fun times, summer picnics, and refreshment with taglines like “Coke is it!’’ and “The choice of a new generation.’’ Now, many of them instead urge consumers to do good, help others, and watch what they eat. [pdf..]

  • NexCen Brands – On the Way Back

    NexCen Brands launched its multi-branded business model in 2006 with a smart strategy: Buy up and manage a variety of retail and quick-service restaurant brands. As with similar companies, the premise was that the variety of concepts would speed up development across the brands. It also would protect the company as sales inevitably fluctuate across the different segments. [pdf..]

  • The Disappearance of Ronald McDonald

    Life isn’t as jolly as it used to be for Ronald McDonald. The fast-food mascot, who has delighted and/or terrified generations of American children with his red and yellow jumpsuit and his relentless perkiness, has been in hot water recently. Two weeks ago, a Boston group called Corporate Accountability International (which previously helped force Joe Camel into retirement) launched a campaign to remove the brightly colored clown from McDonald’s restaurants and ad campaigns, claiming that he has too much influence on children’s eating habits, and promotes bad nutrition and the “fast food industry childhood obesity crisis.” [pdf..]

  • ‘Sponsored’ Health Care Is On The Way

    "Get ready for sponsored health care. Major marketers of over-the-counter remedies, such as Johnson & Johnson, want to go beyond selling products, and get into the business of providing wellness and medical care. For them, it makes perfect sense to have a stake in providing treatment and advice to people who are sick, or trying to stay healthy. Being in the trenches with patients can provide them with another revenue stream, as well as priceless information - largely online - about patient needs and preferences. It also gives the companies an outlet for indirectly promoting their goods among health care providers and consumers. Read more:" [pdf..]

  • Breakfast – A Big Meal for Food Chains

    Kai Ryssdal: Thirty thousand people hit the South Lawn of the White House today for the annual Easter Egg roll. The business world rolled out some eggs of its own this morning as well. The kind you eat, over easy, maybe -- not the hard-boiled ones you push around in the grass at the White House. Subway restaurants has joined the battle over the morning meal. It's introduced a breakfast menu. Marketplace's Stacey Vanek-Smith has more on the home of the $5 foot-long stepping up its morning game. [pdf..]

  • Burger King Lauches Advertising Push Against McDonald’s Over Breakfast

    (Crain's) -- Burger King is betting big on breakfast with a new national blitz to promote a morning sandwich that's admittedly a lot like McDonald's Egg McMuffin, but cheaper. In a new 30-second commercial from agency Crispin Porter & Bogusky, BK's mascot, the King -- armed with a flashlight and donning a hoodie -- breaks into McDonald's headquarters in the wee hours of the morning to copy the recipe for McD's Sausage McMuffin with Egg sandwich. [pdf..]

  • Nothing Ventured, Muffin Gained

    "There's an egg war going on. But it's not between raucous teenagers. Perhaps worse yet, it's between fast-food giants. Oak Brook-based McDonald's is king when it comes to breakfast fast food, according to Gary Stibel, founder-CEO of New England Consulting Group (via Crain's Chicago Business). Source:" [pdf..]

  • Battle For Breakfast Heats Up With New Burger King Spot

    In a volley in its war on McDonald's dominance at breakfast, Burger King has broken a new 30-second spot in which the mascot King burgles the recipe for the Sausage McMuffin with Egg sandwich. "It's not that original but it's super affordable ... egg, sausage and cheese on a toasted English muffin," quoth the voiceover. BK's version only costs a buck.  [pdf..]

  • Consultant is Sure Subway’s Breakfast Will Be a Winner

    Late last year, Subway began rolling out breakfast food with Starbucks’ Seattle’s Best coffee, and now the brand is jumping whole hog into a new breakfast menu. “Subway’s entry into the breakfast daypart will be successful and will challenge the likes of McDonald’s and Starbucks, as well as Kellogg’s and Jimmy Dean,” says Gary Stibel, CEO and restaurant team practice leader at the Westport, Connecticut–based New England Consulting Group. [pdf..]

  • BK Wages Breakfast War on McDonald’s With New Sandwich

    NEW YORK ( -- Burger King is betting big on breakfast with a new national blitz to promote a morning sandwich that's admittedly a lot like McDonald's Egg McMuffin, but cheaper. In a new 30-second commercial from agency Crispin Porter & Bogusky, BK's mascot, the King -- armed with a flashlight and donning a hoodie -- breaks into McDonald's headquarters in the wee hours of the morning to copy the recipe for McD's Sausage McMuffin with Egg sandwich. A voice-over says, "It's not that original but it's super affordable ... egg, sausage and cheese on a toasted English muffin." (The sandwich is being sold for a $1 at Burger King restaurants. McDonald's doesn't offer that sandwich on its breakfast dollar menu, but it does offer other selections, such as a sausage biscuit and sausage burrito). [pdf..]

  • Trusting Other Patients’ Drug Advice

    Who are you going to listen to when it comes to medicines—your peers or the companies that actually make the drugs? Market research shows that the sick are relying more on the recommendations of fellow patients, and less on the reputations of companies and endorsers, in deciding whether to seek treatment and what drugs to ask for, say pharmaceutical companies and their consultants. [pdf..]

  • Consulting Firm Shuffles Restaurant Deck

    The New England Consulting Group (NECG) announced the reorganization of its Restaurant and Hospitality practice. The practice will be led by CEO Gary Stibel, and will be supported by a core team consisting of managing partners Dave Stone, John Richards, Tom Hayes, and Gaurav Kapoor, located in the firm’s Westport, Connecticut, headquarters, along with other experienced restaurant and hospitality executives around the world. “This reorganization will maximize the New England Consulting Group’s ability to provide timely marketing management counsel across a broad range of restaurant and hospitality pain points, from increasing profit to enhancing the customer experience,” Stibel says. “All our efforts are focused on acquiring new customers, increasing check sizes, and accelerating repeat.”  [pdf..]

  • Do-It-Yourself Super Ads

    BE afraid, Madison Avenue. Be very afraid. That seems to be the message in the aftermath of the crowded, frenetic advertising bowl that took place inside Super Bowl XLIV on Sunday. Among those commercials consistently deemed most effective, memorable and talked-about, many were created or suggested by consumers — or produced internally by the sponsors — rather than the work of agency professionals. That should give the modern-day “Mad Men” pause, particularly since so many people watched the game — an average of 106.5 million, the Nielsen Company reported, the largest audience ever for a television show. [pdf..]