Ralph Jacobson

Global Retail & CPG Sales Strategist, IBM

Ralph Jacobson is the Global Consumer Products Industry Marketing Executive for IBM. He is responsible for marketing IBM Consumer Products Industry Solutions to clients in areas including business strategy, operations and the consumer experience.

Ralph has worked in the CP and retail industries for more than thirty years. For more than a decade, Ralph has consulted to more than one-hundred clients around the globe, from Shanghai to Saudi Arabia.

Originally Ralph began his professional career at the largest supermarket company in Chicago, where he worked in store operations and marketing for seventeen years. He is married with two sons and resides north of Los Angeles, California.

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Building a Smarter Planet Blog

Only 40+ years in the Retail & CPG Industries. Let's talk about your business challenges sometime soon! Maybe I've seen them before somewhere in the world, like Shanghai, Saudi Arabia or Bangalore!
  • Posted on: 10/20/2017

    Drone-to-hand delivery could become a thing

    The sky is literally the limit. Of course, there are liability and tactical logistics concerns, however I don't see them as showstoppers. It's just a matter of time for this to take hold.
  • Posted on: 10/20/2017

    Do U.S. retailers have a big cross-border opportunity?

    The world is our oyster! Yes, I can name several retailers that have had great successes in North America as far back as the '90s. Expanding beyond North America is the obvious next step. However, retailers need to thoroughly investigate the cultures in those new (to them) markets before moving in. There are just as many case studies out there of "expat" U.S. companies failing to sustain a presence when trying to get a foothold in a new country, and realizing that they tried to do their business exactly the way they do it in the U.S. That rarely works, unless you are already a truly global brand.
  • Posted on: 10/19/2017

    Consumers don’t trust what CEOs are saying

    Messaging has to at least seem to be genuine. Brands do well with line-level staff making the company pitches, as well as plain old customers. No one wants to hear from a CEO, except when there is a PR disaster that needs to be dealt with quickly.
  • Posted on: 10/18/2017

    Online and Amazon to grow more dominant over the next decade

    Food may indeed be the final frontier for online shopping. Online grocery shopping has been around for almost 30 years now, with Peapod starting the effort. I know this category is gaining online interest, however, people take food very personally, as they should. Perhaps when we have taste and smell-sensory technologies available online, then the breakthrough may finally happen.
  • Posted on: 10/18/2017

    Should the holiday selling season be retired?

    No, retailers and brands should not de-emphasize the holiday season. The holidays aren't going away from any consumers' minds, so why should we remove the focus? Shoppers still expect holiday promotions, so any efforts to the contrary will result in lost sales to those merchants that choose to continue the traditional promotional campaigns.
  • Posted on: 10/17/2017

    Rent the Runway sees new program leading to a ‘closetless’ future

    The future of commerce across the globe is EaaS: "Everything as a Service." Software, cars, mobile phones and now apparel are very attractive to all consumers -- not just Millennials -- when you don't have to invest chunks of money to use expensive goods. This is the future. And product ownership is on the decline. Period.
  • Posted on: 10/17/2017

    What is the online marketplace opportunity for retailers?

    Brands need to be where their target audience is. For the foreseeable future, that means the biggest online marketplace. With the aggressive penetration of the largest marketplace moving into more and more industries, let alone industry categories, I don't see any plateauing anytime soon. Brands need to gain awareness first and foremost. This is a critical way to do that.
  • Posted on: 10/16/2017

    A mall carves out pop-up space for online brands

    This great idea promotes one of the last great differentiators: customer experience. It's a good thing to get more awareness and exposure to the audience who may not have seen your online presence. As this grows to more locations, it might actually begin to move the needle for revenue. One location most likely will not for most merchants.
  • Posted on: 10/06/2017

    Google’s real-time translation tech could be huge

    The world has been waiting for this, for certain. If it works well, it will change lives. Seriously.
  • Posted on: 10/06/2017

    Can e-tailers use ‘digital body language’ to convert shoppers?

    Shopper journey analytics is HUGE and is truly in its infancy in terms of actual revenue achieved by retailers so far. This can be one of the most effective ways to see tangible results for marketing efforts. The newest tools available today are changing marketing strategies of the brands that are using them. Really cool stuff happening out there.
  • Posted on: 10/05/2017

    Retailers lack of trust undermines predictive personalization’s potential

    Many of the words Nikki used in the article are ones I have used with retailers for years, like "gut feel," etc. The first challenge is for solution providers to talk with retailers about solving specific business challenges, rather than leading with personalization solutions. For instance, what about simply talking about abandoned carts online? That is a problem that can be solved with the help of personalization technologies that are in the marketplace today and are being used by retailers around the globe. No, there aren't that many using them at this point, but the innovators are, indeed. Try a proof of concept to address a specific pain and watch the results. This personalization stuff really works.
  • Posted on: 10/05/2017

    Have retailers killed off Black Friday?

    Services, rather than prices, are the much more effective, long-term generator of brand loyalty. With more and more commerce being transacted online, the timing of Black Friday becomes more irrelevant. There is still the excitement of the impending holiday season shopping experience, so I'm not yet ready to completely abandon the idea of Black Friday. However I would support those merchants that are closed on the Thanksgiving holiday, because people can still shop their online sites with their families after stuffing their bellies, rather than embarking on an all-night trip to stores. That online holiday experience sounds a lot more attractive to me.
  • Posted on: 10/04/2017

    Can retailers be healthcare disruptors?

    Location pervasiveness, alone is a great driver for retailers to dive into these services. This is also another way for retailers to be thought of more by consumers as services providers, rather than simply "product sellers." Another great way to differentiate.
  • Posted on: 10/04/2017

    Thrive Market co-founder: ‘Data and storytelling go hand in hand’

    Too few retailers and brands leverage storytelling as a marketing tool. This is more important than ever due to the tsunami of hundreds of thousands of new product launches each year. This creates a personal side of the brand and that is one of the last true differentiators.
  • Posted on: 10/03/2017

    Empowered employees separate Zumiez from the competition

    Meaningful staff incentives work. It's been proven for decades. Incentives must be relevant for the times and the culture of the retailer. With the short attention spans of retail employees, retailers need to be responsive to their lifestyles. I think this retailer is spot on.

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