Joel Rubinson

President, Rubinson Partners, Inc.

Joel is President of Rubinson Partners, Inc. marketing and research consulting for a brave new world. Prior to that, as Chief Research Officer at The ARF, Joel interacted directly with hundreds of research leaders and drove the organization’s initiatives regarding notably:

  • Research transformation (designing the future of the profession)
  • 360 media and marketing
  • Social media and listening
  • Online research data quality
  • Shopper insights

Joel helped build awareness of the ARF and its priorities by building a sizable social media presence via a blog that achieved thousands of page views each month and with a twitter profile of nearly 3,000 followers.

Prior to joining the ARF, Joel was Senior Vice-President, Head of Advanced Solutions for Synovate North America where he was their leading branding resource and was also the global thought leader for shopper research. Before joining Synovate, Joel was at the NPD Group for many years, leading the creation of tools for brand equity management (BrandBuilder), new product forecasting (ESP), category management and designed many of their data collection and sampling methodologies as NPD changed from paper diaries to online research. Joel started his research career at Unilever.

Joel is also a published author of numerous papers in professional journals and frequent speaker at industry conferences. He has taught the official American Marketing Association advanced tutorial on brand loyalty and lectured at Columbia, NYU, Wharton, Amos Tuck School, and University of Rochester, among others. Joel holds an MBA in statistics and economics from the University of Chicago and a BS from NYU.

  • Posted on: 11/27/2017

    Customer data is grocery’s new battleground

    This discussion is framed too narrowly. Retailer data is absolutely transformative, but not just to the retailer. More broadly, it is transformative to how digital marketing will work.Right now there are two big publishers in digital -- Google and Facebook -- in terms of ad revenues. Amazon is now north of $2 billion in ad revenues without even trying hard! But now, they are offering an ad network from that leverages Amazon profiles -- displays deep buying behaviors and is fully integrated across screens. I predicted in a blog that you will see Amazon become the third behemoth of digital advertising because they are a combination of Google (as much product search occurs on Amazon as Google) and Walmart. then one week after the blog Google and Walmart announced a JV! And Walmart already offers an ad network to their vendors. This is the next big sea change in both brand and performance marketing. Huge retailers are becoming publishers and ad networks. And it is all because of the customer data they have.
  • Posted on: 09/13/2017

    Is BOPIS degrading the in-store experience?

    A retailer who doesn't offer BOPIS is going the way of the dodo bird. It is a fact of life for contemporary retailers. Instead of thinking the glass is half empty why not consider the glass as half full? A BOPIS event is the alternative to buying online and having it shipped to your home ... not much experience there. BOPIS brings traffic into the store, past signage, past greeters and then there is the potential for browsing. The reason consumers use BOPIS is because THEY WANT TO. If a retailer did not offer it, it would be an experience NEGATIVE. BOPIS is great in every way and retailers should evolve it, not deny its value.
  • Posted on: 09/12/2017

    Artificial intelligence makes brand personalities come to life

    Talking to a bot makes a brand come alive? What is this, a Twilight Zone or Black Mirror episode? Lars and the Real Girl? AI, natural language bots are a good idea, but they are not people.
  • Posted on: 09/12/2017

    Nordstrom tries a no-merchandise store

    So someone has to go to the store TWICE to get merchandise? No way! If the merchandise is mailed to the home next day maybe, but even then, this is really weird as we are so conditioned to trying something on and if we like it, buying it. I understand the value of experience, but only in the context of a real retail environment. I predict failure.
  • Posted on: 09/01/2017

    Does Amazon Books need coffee?

    Yes, they need to offer coffee but in an Amazon way. Perhaps tasting stations with an ability to instantly order bags on Amazon. Perhaps somehow having Alexa involved ... with music playing on Echos in the coffee area. These shops need to be a physical expression of the Amazon brand -- one of the most powerful in the world.
  • Posted on: 08/29/2017

    Are Whole Foods’ price cuts game-changing for food retailing?

    I do not think this is as much about Whole Foods' pricing of organics as it is brand alignment with Amazon. They are positioning Whole Foods to be a mainstream physical presence for Amazon in the grocery arena.
  • Posted on: 08/10/2017

    Is it time to reinvent category management?

    First, a lot of the discussion about reinventing category management feels like an infusion of shopper insights that was definitely light in version 1.0 of category management which was heavily sales analysis based. Second, the biggest change in the past five years is understanding that shopper marketing is squarely in the digital and mobile world and the seamless blending of those activities to physical store layout, signage, experience, etc.
  • Posted on: 05/16/2017

    Will Walmart’s next-gen store fly with shoppers?

    Rather than thinking of the specifics, think of the mindset. Walmart is acknowledging that its shoppers are tech savvy and they are following the culture of their shoppers as any great retailer should.
  • Posted on: 04/21/2017

    What’s needed beyond KPIs?

    Nothing wrong with KPIs ... you need them! What gets me is when the KPIs are assumed to be valuable, but their value has not actually been proven. To be valuable, a KPI must reflect the business growth model, have an established statistical relationship with performance at time t+1, align to a marketing action (if it goes down, here is what we do...) and collectively encompass the full range of marketing actions and business outcomes (including upstream behavioral markers, such as "test drives"). Brand equity statistics are the worst offenders ... often no proven relationship to outcome (having been based on an assumption) and also never moving ... that's what makes them irrelevant as a brand tracker statistic.
  • Posted on: 04/17/2017

    How should retailers use social listening tools?

    Beyond customer care, I have used social media as a main source of insights for retailers to stay on top of trends and to spot issues with particular product categories. One of the big differences between social media and surveys as a source of insights is that surveys, like a brand tracker, are always primarily focused on functional attributes of a brand vs. its direct competitors. Social media allows you to easily see the rest of a customer's life, seeing them as a human in a 360 degree way. You can set up a group of those who shop at your store (based on a tweet that reveals that) and then see what else they talk about on social media.
  • Posted on: 03/17/2017

    Are Amazon’s boxes prime ad real estate?

    Not only are they absolutely prime real estate but Amazon is also kind of doing it for themselves. The tape on the boxes I get says Amazon Echo! Imagine display ads on boxes that are context-sensitive to the contents. How long does it take to open a box? a lot longer than people view digital display ads on average. Yes, this could be big.
  • Posted on: 12/05/2016

    Does Alexa need a screen?

    I understand the benefits of a screen but what comes next, a keyboard? I think there is also something to be said for staying true to the idea ... voice!!!
  • Posted on: 12/02/2016

    Is transparency next for grocery private label?

    I think it would be a real wild card to the known national brand. It cheapens the brand a bit and actually might harm rather than help trust ("What do you mean you can sell your laundry detergent for 20 percent less if I buy it under the Stop and Shop name?!").
  • Posted on: 10/31/2016

    Why are mobile conversion rates so low?

    A topic I am knee-deep in! Some of you might know I am the consultant working with the mobile marketing association, charged with conducting the most expansive review ever conducted of multi-touch attribution methods (MTA). A key problem is that people engage in a lot of causal activity on their smartphones but prefer to convert in-store or by using their computers. That means that MTA methods must integrate screens via unified IDs, so that we can link together the exposure on the phone to the conversion via a computer -- which is now happening. However, many are still using last-touch attribution because of its simplicity and also because you can more easily negotiate CPAs with publishers. Anyway, there is a measurement problem, but we are on the verge of fixing this as an industry.
  • Posted on: 10/13/2016

    Will greeters make Penney a more inviting place to shop?

    Personally, I find greeters to be annoying. I don't know you, and I don't want to know you. If you are visible and I need help, I will ask and that is fine. But greeters saying, "Hello, how are you," or "welcome to blah blah"? ... annoying. It's like waiters in French restaurants. They know how to be visible but not obtrusive. More of that would be better, N = 1.

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