Tuesday, December 22, 2009

21 New Product Trends for 2010

The coming year will bring a raft of new consumer packaged goods that Chicago-based global supplier of consumer, product and media intelligence Mintel forecasts will expand on tried-and-true formulas.

"Post-recession, we don't expect manufacturers to reinvent the wheel. Instead, we predict 2010's new products will give shoppers something familiar paired with something new to better satisfy their needs," said Lynn Dornblaser, Mintel's leading new products expert. "On retail store shelves, we expect today's familiar mega-trends -- health and wellness, convenience, sustainability -- to get a fresh, new makeover for 2010.

"Mintel's "CPG Predictions 2010" report, prepared by Dornblaser and David Jago, presents 21 trends that will likely affect worldwide new product development as CPG companies maintain a delicate balance between the innovative and the expected. These trends are:

Better Nutritional Info: Almost half of U.S. adults surveyed said that having caloric information on the front of packages would help them lower their intake, but shoppers find the range of nutrition symbols used by CPG companies confusing and misleading. In response, more manufacturers will roll out clean, clear front-of-pack statements.

Slimmer Products: A shift toward simplicity will lead to lighter, slimmer, easier-to-use products featuring cleaner labels, less packaging and uncomplicated presentation and ingredients.

Detox for Health: More products will feature science-based health claims, with a new emphasis in foods and beverages on "detox" as a way to discuss weight management. By contrast, detox claims will decline in the beauty and personal care categories.

Less Sodium: The desirability of lowering dietary sodium is poised to be the next big health directive. However, since this movement is being driven by food companies and health organizations rather than by consumers, lower-salt products may be slow to catch on with shoppers.

Color-Coded Convenience: To help consumers make faster choices, more companies will color-code their products this coming year. Nearly two-thirds of Americans (64 percent) say they want color-coded packaging. Such a system also enables brands to stand out on the shelf.

More for Less: Noting that recession-battered consumers increasingly want better value for their money, CPG companies will offer more multipurpose products such as cleaners and foods, which also have the advantages of appealing to a broader range of shoppers and being applicable to more occasions.

"Fresh" Ingredients: Beyond just perishable products, this term has now come to encompass better-for-you, local, additive-free, less processed, more natural, traditional and authentic items.

Pretty Simple: Streamlined, boutique-inspired containers and premium positioning will make even such quotidian purchases as soap and juice more fun.The

Clean Generation: Accounting for one-fifth of the global population, Gen Y will increasingly demand cleaning products highlighting ease of use and quick results.

Grooming for Men: 2010 will see more grooming products for the "metrosexual" male, both under such basic brands as Nivea and an increasing number of niche brands, including L'Oreal Men Expert.

New Options for Kids: Products aimed at children are going beyond licensed characters and items with "play" value to focus on nutritional benefits.

Redefining "Local": Despite the difficulties in getting locally produced foods all of the time, shoppers want products with known origins and that haven't been shipped too far. In 2010, the definition of "local" will expand, becoming more practical for major companies to use and for mainstream shoppers to buy.

More PLA Packaging: Polylactic acid as a packaging material could break through to the mainstream, thanks to its biodegradability.

Little Green Moves: In tandem with consumers, CPG companies are taking smaller but still significant actions to help the environment, with such subtle changes more likely to win acceptance from shoppers. Examples of this are sustainable products that also offer value pricing, to lure consumers on both traditional (product cost) and innovative (ecological) grounds.

Private Brands Come Into Their Own: Prodded by the recession, retailers boosted the visibility of their private label lines, and many shoppers now consider them on a par with national brands. Look for low-cost, high-quality private brands to take off in 2010.The

Incredible Shrinking Market: Mintel noted a pattern that repeats itself during times of recession: explosive new product activity followed by a sharp decline and contraction in the marketplace. This pattern often leads to the emergence of new conglomerates and a consolidation of brands and product offerings.

Rise of the App: With more tech-savvy consumers than ever, especially among younger shoppers, manufacturers are stepping up mobile computing and electronic interactivity with the purchasers of their products.

The New Old Way: Instead of investing in launches of brand-new products, many companies prefer to tweak their current offerings with new packaging, formulations or varieties, but, occasionally, tinkering with a familiar favorite can backfire: think New Coke or, more recently, Tropicana's hastily pulled redesigned cartons.

Flavors of the Month: Ethnic appeal, functional benefits and nostalgia are among the taste influences that are bound to linger in 2010. Cardamom, sweet potato, mango, hibiscus, the superfruit cupuaçu, rose water, bacon and Latin-influenced flavors will be especially big in the United States.

Ingredient Shortlist: Spices, increasingly recognized for their functional benefits, as is the case with turmeric, cinnamon and ginger, will be a popular product ingredient, as well as such "natural" sweeteners as cane sugar, agave syrup and stevia, to appeal to consumers increasingly resistant to artificial sweeteners and high-fructose corn syrup.

What's That Smell?: Simple, clean scents, often arising from a single component; mood-influencing fragrances to produce a sense of calm; and a new take on scratch-and-sniff aromas, including scent-impregnating packaging, will be wafting through more homes in the coming year.

Mintel estimates global new product introductions for 2009 will reach 2008 levels, but in the United States, where many niche players were hurt by the recession, the company doesn't expect 2009 totals to match those of the prior year.(Source: Progressive Grocer, 12/07/09)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Non-Traditional Promotion Alive and Well Marketing Sector

(Excerpt from RST, 12/21/09)

Wall Street Ignores Media's Fastest Growing New BusinessFirst-Ever Assessment of 'Media Directed Promotion/Event Investments' Tracks $16.7 Billion in 2009 and Projects $400 Billion in 2020

This week, Jack Myers Media Business Report is publishing its newly recalibrated data on 19 advertising categories and nine "below-the-line" marketing communications categories. An accurate assessment of the media business requires a view of the total $700 billion marketers invest domestically in advertising and non-advertising consumer, distributor and retailer communications.

Advertising will represent only 26.8% of total marketing expenditures in 2009 ($188 billion), with below-the-line non-advertising marketing categories, often called "unmeasured media" representing 73.2% ($513.5 billion). These categories include direct marketing, trade and consumer sales promotion, event marketing and public relations.

Marketers are drawing from these budgets to fund a growing array of media company offerings that exploit emerging interactive media capabilities.

In the industry's first assessment of this shift, Jack Myers Media Business Report estimates that Media Directed Promotion/Event Investments attracted an estimated $16.7 billion to media companies in 2009 and will generate an estimated $38 billion in incremental media company revenues in 2012.

While these revenues are included in the financial reports of public media companies, Wall Street's use of future-looking data that excludes this growth sector results in a negatively skewed perspective of the emerging media marketplace.

(Source: The Huffington Post, 12/09/09)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

'Tis the Season for Social Media

(Excerpt from Marketing Charts, 12/10/09)

Social Media Influencing 28% of Holiday Shoppers

Nearly $16 billion has been spent during the first 36 days of the 2009 holiday shopping season (since Nov. 1), marking a 3% increase vs. the corresponding days last year, according to new data from comScore, Inc., which also found that 28% of US shoppers say social media has influenced their purchases this year.

The most recent week ending December 6, 2009 reached $4.6 billion in holiday spending, heavier than any individual spending week in 2008 but still below two individual weeks in 2007, comScore said.

The week began with strong weekday spending, led by $887 million on Cyber Monday. It ended on a softer note with negative year-over-year growth rates during the weekend.

“After a strong beginning to the week, we saw growth rates decelerate over the weekend to put this past week of holiday shopping in line with our 3 percent growth forecast for the season,” said comScore Chairman Gian Fulgoni. “We are anticipating heavy spending for the current week, making it an important determinant for how the holiday season as a whole will perform. Hopefully, we’’l see a return to the growth rates we observed during the earlier part of this past week and that the weekend softness was just a temporary hiccup.”

Social Media Influencing Holiday Purchases
In the comScore weekly holiday survey, comScore asks respondents about the influence of social media on their holiday shopping behavior. According to the most recent survey, conducted on Dec. 4-7, 2009, 28% of those who have begun their holiday shopping this season indicated that social media has influenced their purchases.

Of the types of specific social media that consumers say influenced holiday purchases, the most common:

*Reading a consumer-generated product review (13% of respondents)
*Reading an expert product review (11 %)
*Following a fan page on Facebook to take advantage of special offers and deals (7%)
*Influence by a friend’s Facebook status update referring to a particular product (6%)
*Following a company on Twitter to take advantage of special offers and deals (5%)
*A friend’s “tweet” about a product influenced their purchase behavior (3%)

“Social media really appears to be emerging as an important marketing channel this holiday season,” added Fulgoni. “On the one hand, its emergence is being driven by increased consumer adoption of these technologies and the exponential growth in digital word-of-mouth that is occurring over this medium. On the other hand, having a social media marketing strategy makes sense for retailers in this environment because it’s cost-effective and shows an effort to get closer to one’s customers.”

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Turquoise Declared Color of 2010 by Pantone

(Excerpt from MediaBistro.com, 12/9/09)

By Stephanie Murg on Dec 09, 2009 01:03 PM

It's blue! It's green! Stop, you're both right! Color authority Pantone has selected turquoise (15-5519 TCX on your Pantone fandex), with its legacy of Western jewelry and '80s fashion, to carry the banner of Color the Year for 2010. We associate the hue with the bold "Bondi blue" of the original iMac, but Pantone sees a vacation in a color swatch. "Turquoise evokes thoughts of soothing, tropical waters and a languorous, effective escape from the everyday troubles of the world, while at the same time restoring our sense of wellbeing," noted the company in a statement announcing the selection. Given that the selection of the decidely tropical hue follows "Mimosa," the 2009 choice, we're beginning to suspect that Pantone's color of the year selection process involves a beachside conclave and plenty of cocktails. Anyone else have a sudden craving for Bombay Sapphire martinis?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Four Latest Consumer Types

Marketers That Fail to Take Into Account the Diversity of Consumers' Recession Experiences Will Fall Short

A sentimentalist might regard the current recession as a unifying experience for people of all sorts -- a common ordeal that has narrowed the pre-recession differences between those of different classes and conditions. Marketers, who feel obliged to be more hardheaded about such matters, will instead focus on the distinct ways in which the recession has affected various consumer cohorts and will influence their post-recession behavior.

Along those lines, a report released last month by Decitica Marketing Strategy & Research identifies four consumer types that will emerge from the recession, each posing its own challenges for marketers. Marketing strategies that fail to take account of "the diversity of consumers' recession experiences" will fall short, it warns. Based on survey data gathered over the summer, the report says the adult population is divisible into Steadfast Frugalists (20 percent of the population), Involuntary Penny-Pinchers (29 percent), Pragmatic Spenders (29 percent) and Apathetic Materialists (22 percent), with the names giving a quick hint at what each is like.

Because the Pragmatic Spenders have an upper-income skew (accounting for 37 percent of all those with household income of $75,000-plus), the report identifies this group as "the most attractive to marketers." Compared to the other population segments, they "have the greatest capacity -- both financial and psychological -- to willfully resurrect their past spending patterns." But the "Pragmatic" part of their makeup also means marketers have a challenge in getting these people to spend freely. Sixty-nine percent are "highly confident" in their ability to control their spending; 73 percent are highly confident about "resisting the temptation to spend now and worry later"; 59 percent are highly confident when it comes to sticking to a budget.

Appreciating the 'simple things'?
That's not to say Pragmatic Spenders (who also skew older than any of the other groups) have become fans of the simple life. One part of the report's polling asked respondents to say whether they agree with the statement, "This recession has made me appreciate the simple things in life." Among those identified as Pragmatic Spenders, fewer than half (45 percent) agreed that this is true for them, vs. 77 percent of the Steadfast Frugalists and 60 percent of the Involuntary Penny-Pinchers. Only the Apathetic Materialists were less likely to say they've come to appreciate the simple things (31 percent).

"I would venture to guess that many of the Pragmatic Spenders are somewhat conflicted these days," says Val Srinivas, principal of Decitica. "They like the good life, they can afford it more so than others, but they might feel compelled to accept austerity until they feel more comfortable with their finances or until a time when societal values revert back to the way it was in the past." And, despite their comparatively strong finances, their approach to spending is "tempered with caution," Srinivas adds.

Moreover, the recession has made them skeptical about the worth of brand-name goods. Thirty-two percent of Pragmatic Spenders agreed that "I have come to realize that brand-name products are not worth the extra price," putting them second only to the survey's Steadfast Frugalists (49 percent agreed) in this respect. Similarly, 52 percent of Pragmatic Spenders subscribed to the statement, "I am the kind who first looks at prices before I consider other features," again putting them second only to the Steadfast Frugalists (66 percent).

In light of their conflicted attitudes, what sort of advertising might resonate best with Pragmatic Spenders? "These individuals should be receptive to advertising that takes an emotional approach," Srinivas suggests. "In fact, it may be this kind of advertising that is more effective in making them more comfortable about their spending choices." And despite their relative lack of enthusiasm for the "simple things," their self-control as consumers can be a point of contact for advertisers. As such, says Srinivas, "brand alignment with values such as thrift and simplicity may in fact be influential as long as such associations are credible." One plus for advertisers in approaching this consumer segment: Comparatively few Pragmatic Spenders (28 percent) agreed that they're "paying less attention to product commercials and advertising these days."

Paying less attention to advertising
By contrast, nearly half (47 percent) of those identified as Steadfast Frugalists said they're paying less attention to advertising. And that's quite in sync with their general inclination to keep their spending in check. For one thing, they're willing to spend time in the interest of not spending more money than they have to. The report says the Steadfast Frugalists (who are most common in the 40-49 age bracket and scarcest among 20- and 30somethings) "are the most disciplined in their behaviors and seriously committed to self-restraint." In many cases, that was so even before the economy put a premium on such behavior: "It is likely that many of these individuals deemed themselves tightwads even before the recession," notes the report.

And while people of all sorts have been obliged to economize during the downturn, the Steadfast Frugalists positively enjoy doing so. The survey asked people whether they have a propensity for "buying on sale or using coupons and discounts." Not only did 71 percent of Steadfast Frugalists say they "always" engage in this behavior; 87 percent said they "find this behavior satisfying." In both instances, the Steadfast Frugalists far outpaced the other three cohorts. When it comes to "buying store or generic brands," Steadfast Frugalists were just a shade less likely than Involuntary Penny-Pinchers to say they always do this (53 percent vs. 56 percent). But they were in a class by themselves in deriving satisfaction from this behavior, with 59 percent saying they do so (vs. a mere 17 percent of the Involuntary Penny-Pinchers). As mentioned above, a large majority say the recession has given them an appreciation of the simple things in life.

It's no surprise, given these proclivities, that the Steadfast Frugalists "will be the most averse to impulse buying," as the report says. Nor, more broadly, are they apt to be rushed into a purchase decision. By a wide margin, they were the ones most likely to say they always compare prices before buying (78 percent) and that they derive satisfaction from doing so (85 percent). The report describes them as "meticulous in their pre-purchase activities, seeking and processing more product and price information, and arriving at purchase decisions after careful deliberations." Little wonder that the report says marketers "will find this group to be the most challenging."

Make an emotional appeal
Srinivas describes Steadfast Frugalists' information seeking as "largely self-directed and highly goal-oriented," adding that they're very skilled "in filtering out noise and operating with singular focus." And while paying less heed to advertising, they're apt to browse (whether in stores or via catalogs and the Internet). How, then, should advertisers approach them? You might assume Steadfast Frugalists would be most responsive to a just-the-facts, informational approach. But Srinivas points to a reason to believe quite the opposite is true: "I suspect many of the Steadfast Frugalists are skeptical of advertising, and as such discount information communicated through advertising. The way to get their attention is to appeal to them on an emotional basis, and after you raise their awareness level, interest them with facts that they find credible. I realize this sounds counterintuitive -- but that is my hypothesis."

In their current spending (or lack thereof), the Steadfast Frugalists might not look to the naked eye all that different from Involuntary Penny-Pinchers. But this is a case where the constraints imposed by the recession tend to mask some basic attitudinal differences. As the name applied to their cohort suggests, the Involuntary Penny-Pinchers are none too pleased about the austerities they've been compelled to make since the economy got bad. "Their new-found frugality for the most part has been forced upon them," the report says of this group, which is disproportionately at the lower end of the income scale. That dovetails with the observation that Involuntary Penny-Pinchers "are the most severely affected -- financially and emotionally -- by the recession."While 60 percent of the Involuntary Penny-Pinchers say they always compare prices before buying something, barely half as many (32 percent) find it satisfying to do so. And though their finances compel them to keep their spending under control, just 34 percent are highly confident of their ability to stick to a budget. Forty-eight percent say they've "begun to appreciate the benefits of thrifty living as a result of my experience during this recession," but their broader pattern of response suggests there's something grudging about that appreciation -- a quality that makes them a tough audience for marketing messages.

Given this group's disinclination to take pleasure in the austerities they've had to adopt, is there leeway for an advertiser to foster brand loyalty by helping them feel some satisfaction in these money-saving efforts? "I think so," responds Srinivas, "but this has to be done delicately. My guess is that Involuntary Penny-Pinchers don't want to be reminded of why they need to practice austerity. So the way to increase their satisfaction with prudence and self-restraint is to focus more on the outcomes rather than the process, which no doubt many find less rewarding." While Steadfast Frugalists are predisposed to feel satisfaction in their economizing, says Srinivas, "Involuntary Penny-Pinchers may need to be reassured that in spite of their financial situation, they can still derive pleasure and happiness from the simple things in life."

The young and apathetic
While the three other groups have strong feelings, negative or positive, about some aspects of their consumer activity, the Apathetic Materialists live up to the adjective in their label. They're "less perturbed by the recession," says the report, and are "the least changed in terms of their spending habits and future intentions." This is at least partly a function of their age, with the Apathetic Materialists concentrated in the 21-29 and (to a lesser degree) 30-39 age brackets. "It is likely that their relative indifference springs from their life stage -- more younger, single people with limited disposable income at the moment."

They're the least likely of the four groups to say they always buy on sale or use coupons/discounts (12 percent) and the least likely to say they find this behavior satisfying (11 percent). They're also, by far, the least likely to say they always compare prices before buying (7 percent) and take satisfaction in doing so (6 percent). Scarcely any of them are highly confident that they can control their spending (4 percent), resist temptation to spend now (5 percent) or stick to a budget (4 percent). And they're the least likely to say the recession has taught them to appreciate the benefits of thrifty living (20 percent).

Then again, they are Materialists as well as Apathetic. So, while there's been a decline in their tendency to get pleasure from buying things, they still outstrip the other cohorts in this respect. Fifty-eight percent of the Apathetic Materialists say they get a lot of pleasure from buying things, more than double the figure for the Steadfast Frugalists (25 percent).

Better entertain them
In light of this mix of attitudes, Srinivas suggests of the Apathetic Materialists that "in general, they would be more receptive to advertising that is entertaining" than to ads that are chiefly informative. There's not much to be gained with this audience in aligning a brand with the simple life. "I don't think they care much for the simple life," Srinivas remarks. "They enjoy materialistic consumption more so than others."

Finally, the report took a look at whether people in each consumer cohort think the changes wrought on their behavior by the recession (if any) will be permanent. True to form, the Apathetic Materialists were the least likely (21 percent) to agree, "This recession has changed what and how I buy forever." Twenty-eight percent of the Pragmatic Spenders said their buying behavior has been changed forever, as did 52 percent of the Involuntary Penny-Pinchers and 55 percent of the Steadfast Frugalists. Time will tell how accurate these self-assessments are.

(Source: Adweek, 12/07/09)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Email and Social Media Top Marketing Plans for 2010

(Excerpt from StrongMail.com, 12/2/09)

Survey of more than 1,000 business executives reveals positive economic outlook and significant increase in marketing budgets in coming year.

Redwood City, Calif., December 2, 2009 – The majority of businesses plan to increase marketing spend in email marketing and social media in 2010, making them the top two areas of investment according to the November "2010 Marketing Trends Survey" released today by StrongMail, a leading provider of online marketing solutions for email and social media. Signaling a positive economic outlook for 2010, the industry survey of more than 1,000 global business leaders also found that 89 percent of respondents plan to increase or maintain budgets in the New Year.

The positive outlook is also supported by 50 percent of polled businesses that expect their customers to spend more in 2010 and nearly a quarter more that expect them to spend the same. Only 8 percent of businesses project their customers to spend less.

48 percent of businesses are increasing overall marketing budgets in 2010, and email and social media marketing are the two leading areas of investment at 69 percent and 59 percent respectively. Search marketing comes in third at 42 percent. Conversely, events and direct mail lead the pack in decreased spend at 44 percent and 42 percent respectively.

Social media marketing is a clear focus for businesses, with 69 percent of respondents planning to integrate it with their email marketing campaigns in 2010. However, of those who have already integrated the two channels, only 42 percent are achieving a lift in campaign performance. 35 percent report no significant lift and another 23 percent are unable to measure. Respondents identified the top three benefits of social media marketing as awareness building (64%), customer loyalty and retention (49%), and expanded reach (46%).

"As businesses are developing their marketing plans for 2010, this survey reveals a strong focus on high ROI channels like email and emerging ones like social media," said Bill Wagner, executive vice president of business operations at StrongMail. “While an unprecedented number of companies look to integrate email and social media in 2010, the data shows that companies need to adopt new tools and strategies to properly measure and monetize their efforts."

Survey Highlights
*89% of businesses plan to increase or maintain marketing spend in 2010
*50% of businesses expect customers to spend more; 23% to spend the same; 8% to spend less
*69% of businesses plan to increase marketing budget for email; 59% social media; 42% search
*69% of businesses plan to integrate email and social media in 2010
*64% of businesses identify increasing awareness as primary value for social media

Survey Methodology
The StrongMail “2010 Marketing Trends” survey was conducted online by Zoomerang on behalf of StrongMail. The poll, which gathered feedback from 1,057 business executives in a wide range of industries, was conducted from November 17 to November 25, 2009.

About StrongMail Systems, Inc.StrongMail’s online marketing solutions for email and social media enable businesses to reach, engage and influence their target audience using the most powerful channels available to marketers today. StrongMail gives email marketers the control and support they need to improve campaign performance, boost deliverability and lower costs, while also leveraging the power of social media to extend the reach of their campaigns and brand to new audiences. Combining an easy-to-use email marketing application, high-performance delivery system, viral-marketing tool, social media integration, and a wide range of deliverability, strategic and supporting services, StrongMail makes it possible for companies with all levels of resources and expertise to take advantage of its proven solutions. Headquartered in Redwood City, CA, StrongMail’s clients include global leaders across virtually every industry. To learn more about StrongMail, please visit www.strongmail.com or follow us online at www.twitter.com/StrongMail or www.facebook.com/StrongMail.

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Thursday, December 3, 2009

Pet Presents on the Rise This Howliday Season

(Excerpt from RST, 12/3/09)

Dogs across the country can expect some bone-shaped presents under the Christmas tree this year.

An Associated Press-Petside.com poll shows 52 percent of pet owners plan to buy their animals a holiday gift -- up from 43 percent last year.

Gus and Molly, a pair of German shepherds, Rosie the bulldog and Zoe the cat will get treats and playtoys, "the good sturdy stuff," said owner Norm Authier, 50, of Long Beach, Calif."

We have always done this. We don't have any kids so we spoil our dogs," Authier said.

The bounce in pet gifts is expected despite the fact that fully 93 percent of Americans say they'll spend less overall or about the same as last year, according to a separate Associated Press-GfK poll.

The AP-Petside.com poll found that six in 10 of those who own only dogs planned on shopping for their pet for the holidays. Forty percent of those with only cats planned to pet shop.

Sawyer, a 9-year-old Labrador-border collie mix, will get something special because he was born on Christmas Day, said owner Pat Brown, 74, of Beloit, Wis. He can also look forward to his two favorite homemade snacks -- popcorn and ice cubes.

Plush holiday-themed toys are very popular with pet owners, as are candy cane-shaped rawhide chews, said Jessica Douglas, a spokeswoman for the PetSmart pet supply store chain based in Phoenix, Ariz.

Popular clothes at this time of year include a Santa suit, a Mrs. Claus dress and reindeer costumes. A lot of boots are sold to dog owners in cold weather states. Bling-wise, collars and leads are popular."

Some ID tags are decorated with sparkly embellishments and they can be personalized so it's not just for looks," she said.

According to the poll, 62 percent of female owners said they would probably buy their pet a gift, while just 40 percent of the men said they would.

Janet Rowlands, 53, in Tulsa, Okla., is planning a Christmas celebration for 29 people and pets, including her four dogs. Jack Russell and rat terrier Boodroe, 7, is the only one who steals gifts from under the tree." He sees it as part of the fun," Rowlands said.

According to the poll, 59 percent of owners say pets are only a minor consideration when picking out holiday decorations, even though 14 percent reported that their pets have gotten into the decorations before.

There are no cranberries, popcorn or gingerbread men on the tree at Erica Peterson's home in Vass, N.C., because of Logan and the starfish, an ornament she and her husband got on their honeymoon.

On his first Christmas with the family, Logan, a male Labrador-chow, knocked the tree over and everything went flying so he could get to the starfish -- apparently because it smelled fishy to him. All edible or scented ornaments were banned.

This year Logan will get a big butcher's bone, while Peterson's female Maltese named Bubbles, 13, will get rawhide sticks made like candy canes. Both will be wrapped and put under the tree.

Last year, Debra Jensen's Labrador named Nightmare and a German shepherd-Siberian Husky named Ticia got stockings with dog treats in them. This year, because her husband recently lost his job, there may not be a stocking, but there will still be treats -- they can count on leftover ham."

The dogs are our only children. I love my babies," said Jensen, 55, of Tulsa, Okla.

(Source: Associated Press, 11/24/09)