Jonathan Marek

Senior Vice President, Applied Predictive Technologies

Jonathan Marek is a Senior Vice President with Applied Predictive Technologies (APT). He leads engagements with retail, restaurant, consumer products and retail banking clients, including Starbucks, Michaels, SUPERVALU, and RadioShack. Jonathan has helped clients improve performance through optimizing capital strategy, new concept development, media optimization, store labor planning, space optimization, site selection, and store-based goal setting. He also serves as Head of APT’s San Francisco Office.

Jonathan has more than a dozen years of experience applying quantitative techniques to retail and consumer products issues. Prior to joining APT, he was a Principal at Mercer Management Consulting (now Oliver Wyman), where he consulted to multi-unit retailers on new business strategy, network planning, and operational process issues. At Mercer, he drove several field-based change efforts with Fortune 500 companies. He has led engagements across North America, Latin America, and Europe.

Jonathan holds a B.S. in Mathematics (with Honors and Distinction) and an A.B. in Philosophy from Stanford University, where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa.

Applied Predictive Technologies (APT) is the industry leader in helping large-scale consumer-focused companies institutionalize a world-class Test & Learn capability. Through the combination of APT’s proprietary software and capability-building consulting support, APT has helped some of the world’s largest and most successful companies achieve significant bottom-line improvement. For more information about Test & Learn, visit

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  • Posted on: 05/06/2016

    Why do retailers struggle to measure marketing campaign results?

    There is no easy process and there are no easy answers on cross-channel attribution. Or rather, if anyone is giving you and easy answer, you ought to be highly skeptical — the analysis is probably wrong.

    Testing is the right answer for understanding causal impact of marketing investments in a noisy world. But you have to do testing right and that isn't easy. First, you have to be measuring actual sales and profit data. Second, you have to have the right control for the test. Third, you have to avoid the pitfalls of simply tracking exposed individuals. Fourth, you need to do much more of it.

  • Posted on: 05/03/2016

    What airline self-check-in can teach retailers

    These are very good lessons — well thought through. Retailers also need to think about how their situation differs as carts full of goods are very different from an airline check-in where fewer physical items are involved. And since this isn't the '90s or '00s, mobile solutions already in people's pockets need to be primary not secondary.

    But the one thing I hope they learn is just how annoying it is to turn what could be one screen and one click into three so they can try to up-sell me!

  • Posted on: 02/29/2016

    Is marketing research breaking down internally?

    There are two fundamental trends that are indeed undermining the value of traditional market research. First, there are so many more ways to listen to consumers, from real-time kiosks gathering data on chain restaurant tabletops to analyzing social media threads. Second, the cost of real-world testing has gone way down — obviously online and in apps, but also in physical stores. Real data (what consumers actually buy/do in a real world test) always beats "research." What they do is much more important than what they say they'll do.

  • Posted on: 01/28/2016

    Is the convenience economy convenient for retailers?

    I think this is all correct and the five ideas are good ones. But while the tactics have evolved, I don't think the principle is new. In fact, there have been much bigger leaps in convenience in the past — think the advent of the Sears Catalog which made manufactured goods available at all! Or a more modern example, the proliferation of dollar stores in under-retailed rural and inner-city areas.

    That said, convenience is often a great goal and retailers absolutely need to be testing a wide variety of tactics with that goal in mind.

  • Posted on: 01/27/2016

    What happens when Walmart closes a store?

    Stores open and stores close. The responsibility of the retailer is to operate them profitably and generate value for the shareholders. Of course that means having a great offering where consumers want to shop, but sometimes there aren't enough sales or the cost of business is too high. Sometimes, in the the case of the Oakland, CA Walmart, the government is making the cost of business too high.

    But as others have said, a Walmart closure presents a massive opportunity to others to develop stores in those areas that aren't as big and expensive to run. I'm sure someone out there could make a lot of money following the closures and putting in the right smaller concept. That's how the market works. Businesses die and others that are better suited grow in their place. It's when we try to stop that process that the economy dies.

  • Posted on: 01/08/2016

    Can virtual reality reinvent the digital circular?

    I'm going to go with NO. Digital circulars themselves have had enough trouble gaining traction and getting the reach to allow them to replace the declining but still substantial reach of paper. Let's work on that problem first: how can retailers and their CPG partners get enough scale through digital channels to drive promos at the same level of impact they've historically gotten in the declining print vehicles?

  • Posted on: 12/18/2015

    Is experiential gift giving a threat to retail?

    Maybe ... but I'd love to see more experiential gifts that are presented in physical retail stores. Lots of retailers have sold services in stores at great profits for decades. This could be an opportunity to extend that trend, as physical retailers have the advantage of being able to create cool physical in-store experiences. This is a use of the showrooming phenomenon that could actually help the brick and mortar retailers.

  • Posted on: 12/14/2015

    Men’s Wearhouse finds full price doesn’t suit Jos. A. Bank

    It is extremely difficult to change a promo strategy that has become part of the brand. Just ask Ron Johnson how hard....

    What Jos. A. Bank and their owners need to do now is to bring back the promotions, but with an aggressive, rigorous testing plan to figure out which work and which don't. Then they can test more aggressive innovative moves that might slowly wean customers from being quite so promo driven. However, they don't have the runway for strategic innovation without making the promo strategy work in the meantime.

  • Posted on: 11/12/2015

    What’s holding back innovation in grocery private label?

    I feel like private label is actually more innovative today than 20 years ago. You see a lot more variation of store brands and positioning. And I agree that it does seem like a ripe area for lots of testing to lower the risk of innovation.

    That aside, I imagine a lot of the risk aversion comes from the history and economics of the traditional private label business, where price was the only differentiator and all possible costs were eliminated (or not there to begin with). It is hard to change and remnants of that world still exist, folks like Trader Joe's aside.

  • Posted on: 11/10/2015

    Retailers have never declared war on Christmas — ever

    Next, it will be that retailers are anti-Christmas because the doorbusters weren't good enough on Black Friday! Clearly, for retailers, Christmas is about driving sales. It's a commercial holiday. That's what the red cups are for. That's what the sales are for. That's what the decorations are for. It's fun.

    Interestingly, I've taken a couple trips to Japan in December, where very few people are Christian, but Christmas is still a huge retail holiday. The decorations there are often more impressive than in the US. And no one gets offended if you do or don't say "Merry Christmas."

  • Posted on: 10/28/2015

    REI gives workers the day off on Black Friday

    It makes sense for someone to do this if only for the PR value that you can see manifesting right now. But of course it only make sense for a retailer where BF isn't a huge deal (which rules out most)... And you probably only get most of the PR if you go first. So cool idea, but not replicable.

  • Posted on: 10/13/2015

    Are demos just not worth it?

    Demos are among the easiest thing for vendors to test and measure since they can naturally happen in some stores and not others. That makes this an answerable question, brand-by-brand, rather than a theoretical question.

  • Posted on: 10/08/2015 ditches subscription fee

    "We'll never know if the paid membership concept would have worked"? I think this decision must have been made because it wasn't working!

    These guys have a huge bar to get over, up against Amazon and Costco and others with the scale to do things they cannot. Hope they've got a lot of cash and watch the burn rate.

  • Posted on: 09/29/2015

    Is data eliminating the need for chief merchants at retail?

    I actually think we'll see a lot of agreement here. My company writes analytical software to drive Test & Learn retailing, and roughly 40% of those tests relate to merchandising. So believe me, I'm as committed as anyone to the power of using data in merchandising decisions. That said, clearly some merchandising decisions—largely, to quote Paula, around the "what"—need to be made with a feel for the business that goes beyond the data.

    In addition, the big problem with Big Data is red many supposed insights are not causal. Data and analytics are only useful when they tell you what truly works and what doesn't, to drive sales and profit. The key is: how do you apply the right data to the right decisions, and no more? That is the question with which the Chief Merchant needs to wrestle for merchandising (... and the Chief Marketing Officer for marketing... and the CFO for all investments!).

  • Posted on: 08/21/2015

    Study: Trader Joe’s boosts home values

    This is a classic confusion of correlation and causality. Or maybe just straight reversal of causality. These stores locate in areas they expect to improve and they locate in areas that trend higher income (which happen to have had greater home price increases recently). But there is no evidence here that the retailers actually help home prices. That would be an interesting study but would require a control group of like locations where they did not move in.

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