PROFILE

Phil Rubin

CEO, rDialogue

Phil is CEO of rDialogue, an Atlanta-based customer marketing firm with clients ranging from mid-market to Fortune 100 and in industries including retail, travel and hospitality, telecommunications, dining, financial services and pharmaceuticals. Representative clients include Caribou Coffee, Cracker Barrel, Kimpton Hotels and Sprint, as well as a number of clients that can’t be named like a world famous customer-centric department store.

He has nearly 20 years of strategic marketing experience with an emphasis on customer loyalty and relationship marketing, integrated communications, partnership development, promotions and program development. He founded the loyalty practice at Loyaltyworks and led the spin-off of the practice to rDialogue. Prior to Loyaltyworks he was Group Vice President and General Manager of The Lacek Group, a loyalty marketing firm now part of OgilvyOne. While at Lacek he established the Atlanta office and was responsible for leading the development and implementation of relationship marketing strategies on behalf of clients such as Delta Air Lines, Cox Communications and UPS.

Phil has developed and managed loyalty and relationship marketing as a client both at Midway Airlines and at GTE Wireless (now Verizon). He began his career going through Macy’s Executive Training Program and working in store management.

Phil has an M.B.A. with a concentration in Marketing and Strategy from Tulane University and a B.S. in finance from L.S.U.

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  • Posted on: 09/19/2016

    Amazon’s Prime Now delivers beauty in a hurry

    Beauty is the number one frequency driver for department stores and while not #1 for drug stores, it's still a significant traffic driver. So with this Amazon provides yet another reason for customers to NOT have to visit a shopping center for beauty items. This is a BIG threat for the reasons cited above but mostly because Amazon makes it easier to buy stuff than any other merchant on the planet. Bad news for those merchants that don't get the idea of putting the customer at the center of everything.
  • Posted on: 09/12/2016

    Amazon to roll out pop-ups nationwide

    These pop-ups follow a similar strategy to Amazon Prime -- they are another means to engage customers in doing more business with Amazon and they will be very good for Amazon's business and customer relationships. We've long been of the mindset that Amazon sets the standard for retail innovation and customer experience.These pop-ups will make it even easier for customers to "get" Amazon and products like Echo. Another nail in the coffin not just for retailers but, increasingly, for brands that are unable to innovate around the customer experience.
  • Posted on: 09/09/2016

    Is altruism the secret ingredient in Starbucks’ success?

    Retailers have not been good storytellers for a while, though there are a few exceptions. In the vein of Upstanders, consider TOMS whose entire brand and mission is a powerful story. But they are an exception. In another vein, Brooks Brothers has some terrific content on their site and that they share via email, covering everything from the history of the blazer to the work of their Golden Fleece Foundation.Props to Mr. Schultz and Starbucks for being not just a dominant retailer but one with a conscience and a soul. That is increasingly missing in today's brand landscape.
  • Posted on: 09/06/2016

    Will Lands’ End hit pay dirt on Amazon?

    I 100% approve of Lands' End selling an edit of its line on Amazon.com. It's a much more compelling alternative than to not selling it on their own site. There are not that many soft goods brands in the "popular" price range that will be able to survive without a relationship like Amazon. Amazon is too good at delivering a customer experience that no soft goods retailers has yet been able to match.One alternative would have been to follow J.Crew's lead and partner with a department store or other mass merchant. Oh wait — they already did that, right?Gap and Lands' End are the first of many to realize the path to long-term survival needs to include Amazon.
  • Posted on: 09/01/2016

    Is good karma the newest customer reward?

    DM 101. It's a classic and proven testing strategy to compare the response of different offers, including "no offer." Customer loyalty and relationship building no longer requires more or richer transactional rewards, but rather a better experience. There's nothing loyalty-building about "$10 off" but if it's from a friend it's more meaningful and trades more — but not totally — on emotion.More importantly, the margin per sale is at least $10 higher without an offer for the one making the referral, making the campaign that much more profitable.
  • Posted on: 08/30/2016

    J.Crew to sell inside Nordstrom

    Two once great brands struggling to regain relevance, business and growth against a backdrop of upstarts and Amazon. For J.Crew it's a choice: pursue indirect business via doors like Nordstrom's or go the way of Gap and pursue indirect business through Amazon.Both companies will benefit, but the ultimate question is whether it will be enough to stabilize their businesses. My view: they both have a lot more work to do in order to begin to offer a customer experience in line with rising consumer expectations and increasingly discerning tolerances for irrelevance.
  • Posted on: 08/25/2016

    Can Best Buy build momentum with new services and IoT?

    Best Buy, as everyone is agreeing, is on the right path with IoT and should easily outpace brick-and-mortar legacy rivals like J.C. Penney and Sears. Amazon, not so much. But Best Buy, more than other brick-and-mortar merchants, knows how to leverage its capabilities around customer data via CRM activities (e.g., Reward Zone, digital communications) that will amplify its physical advantages, including Geek Squad. Having nicely integrated payment and credit features helps as well and it's great to see Best Buy continuing on the right path.
  • Posted on: 08/25/2016

    Has beauty been the ‘missing link’ for Kohl’s business?

    It's very smart of Kohl's to recognize the value of beauty as a category, though this is not a newsflash to other more traditional department stores like Macy's and Nordstrom. Now more than ever, beauty as a category is a traffic driver, a frequency play and an "affordable indulgence" as much as it is a reflection on consumers seeking wellness, at least in terms of aging and appearance. It's recession-proof as even in tough times beauty is steadfast and often a contra-indicator (the "Lipstick Index").
  • Posted on: 08/22/2016

    Will Amazon drive-up grocery stores disrupt food retailing?

    It is a huge mistake to think that Amazon will fail to disrupt any market, given its track record. While it does not bat 1.000, it does pretty well and has disrupted business for everyone from Nordstrom to Netflix. Underestimate AMZN at your own peril.
  • Posted on: 08/18/2016

    Will other brands follow Birkenstock in cutting off Amazon?

    Any manufacturer that is going to stay away from Amazon needs to make sure it's got great retail distribution that can compete with Amazon. Birkenstock has a powerful brand so it's possible this will be a good move for them but for many others, and perhaps for Birkenstock as well, they will be not only biting the proverbial hand that feeds them, but perhaps cutting off their own.
  • Posted on: 08/18/2016

    Will Adidas’s Speedfactory disrupt shoe production?

    Customization in the athletic footwear category is nothing new and something that's long been embraced by the category leader, Nike and its sibling, Converse. While this is an interesting step — no pun intended — and an interesting location (for me, being based in Atlanta), Adidas is lagging behind Nike and Under Armour in terms of momentum and category leadership, so it's at least good in terms of PR but falls short, especially given the volume, of making up some key gaps. All you have to do is walk into one of the Adidas doors to see the contrast.
  • Posted on: 08/16/2016

    Where would J.C. Penney be without Sears?

    Two thoughts come to mind when it comes to J.C. Penney and Sears:
    1. Jim Valvano's strategy of simply "being in a position to win" when the game is on the line that brought him and NC State a championship in 1987, against very long odds. For J.C. Penney this is a function of making the necessary changes a few years ago after its disastrous pivot under Ron Johnson in order to survive. These changes are clearly bearing fruit for the business, which is now more customer-centric in its business strategy than perhaps it ever has been. This kind of focus on customers is a winning strategy. Period.
    2. A good friend and colleague said, in the early days of our firm, "sometimes it's not how good we are but how bad everybody else is." Sears isn't doing much to make things more challenging for its competitors. While this is clearly not the only explanation for J.C. Penney's recent success, it's certainly helping.
  • Posted on: 08/16/2016

    Are supermarkets digitally disconnected from retailing reality?

    Grocers have a built-in advantage over some emerging new models but the longer they fail to innovate the more they will be displaced like retailers in other categories. Whether it's new models like Blue Apron, mass merchants like Target increasing their emphasis on grocery or Amazon Fresh, there are plenty of threats to grocers who are and continue to lag behind where consumers and technology are going.Beyond some of the individual relationships, the main driver of grocery "loyalty" is habit as much as it is anything else. Beyond those local relationships, which are really tough to scale, grocery shopping, in spite of the data being collected, is still too much of a mass marketing and old-school game.
  • Posted on: 08/15/2016

    Is brick & mortar ready to leverage in-store shopper data?

    It is imperative that brick & mortar retailers leverage customer data beyond digital channels, which means in physical stores. There is more data and increasingly affordable technologies that can distill critical insights in what we describe as "the last three feet of retail." Between payments, geospatial data, digital "sensors" (e.g., beacons, apps, RFID/Bluetooth and WiFi), the opportunities exceed the willingness of most retailers to innovate.Retailers that fail to innovate are increasingly vulnerable to Amazon, as well as other innovative merchants (PIRCH comes to mind as an example). More than vulnerable, they are going to be "retail road kill" as Amazon and others focus on customers, data and relevance, relegating others to fight for scraps and ultimately, liquidation values.
  • Posted on: 08/08/2016

    Amazon launches Prime Air

    Amazon continues to lead and develop its own path forward as it grows and expands its dominance. Investing in air cargo capacity is another example of how multi-dimensional Amazon's business plan is and likewise an additional pillar in support of a bullish case for its business.

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