PROFILE

Richard J. George, Ph.D.

Professor of Food Marketing, Haub School of Business, Saint Joseph's University

Dr. Richard J. George is Professor Emeritus of Food Marketing at the Haub School of Business, St. Joseph’s University, where he earned his undergraduate degree in economics. He holds an MBA from Harvard University, and a Ph.D. from Temple University. He has authored or co-authored eleven books including Winning Customer Rules and Winning Marketing Strategy: The Rules.  He has also been recognized with several awards for teaching and research excellence, including the prestigious Lindback and Tengelmann Awards.   As an entrepreneur he has learned the need to “walk the walk” and not simply “talk the talk.” He was one of nineteen professors nationwide named as their favorite undergrad business professor and profiled by Business Week in a feature titled “Class Acts.”  In 2014 he was voted by students as the “Top Prof” in the Haub School of Business.  He has lived and taught in England at the University of London and in Ireland at the University College Cork.

As an expert on food marketing strategy, brand strategy, business ethics, marketing strategy, customer delight, marketing trends, and servant leadership, he has been quoted by major news organizations and industry publications worldwide. He has spoken on these topics in the Americas, Eastern and Western Europe, and the Pacific Rim.  Articles on these topics have appeared in the European Journal of Marketing, Journal of Consumer Marketing, Journal of Food Products Marketing, Journal of Marketing Management, Adweek, Grocery Headquarters, Marketing News, the International Review of Retail Distribution and Consumer Research, the Journal of Negro Education, and the Journal of Business Ethics.

Dr. George has spent his entire professional career in the development of people.  Over the course of his career, with his speeches in the U.S. and internationally, he has reached tens of thousands of students and food marketing industry leaders.  He is the previous holder of the Gerald E. Peck Fellowship, working on a project for the International Foodservice Distributors Association (IFDA).  The objective of the IFDA research project was to enhance collaboration between foodservice manufacturers and distributors.  Previously, he held the fellowship sponsored by FMI during which he produced three published research reports focusing on the future of food wholesaling.

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  • Posted on: 06/27/2017

    Will its newest small store format make Meijer a downtown destination?

    Meijer continues to experiment with offerings and store size. The concept is a sound one to downsize into metropolitan markets and may have more validity with the impending Amazon/Whole Foods deal. The alternative to supercenters borrows heavily from Walmart Neighborhood Markets, focusing on fill-in and fresh. I agree with the earlier comment that Grand Rapids does not truly represent the ultimate target market. However, it could be an excellent opportunity to "roll and fix" the smaller footprint options.
  • Posted on: 06/22/2017

    Does Costco need to significantly undercut Amazon’s prices?

    I believe Costco recognizes the real threat to the center store-focused offerings in its club stores that Amazon, Jet and others are courting. It is cheaper to defend market share than it is to win it back. To the extent that center store food items will continue to migrate to online at an even faster rate, this defensive pricing strategy both protects it warehouse club strategy and positions it as a viable player in the online world.
  • Posted on: 06/21/2017

    Will Amazon Prime Wardrobe change how Americans shop for clothes?

    Amazon never ceases to test and innovate. Macy's et al. should be lobbying for Amazon to purchase them along the lines of the recent Amazon/Whole Foods deal. If successful, this latest Amazon endeavor will be another serious blow to the brick-and-mortar only retailers. In the words of the old adage, "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em."
  • Posted on: 06/15/2017

    Will new payment options make Amazon Prime memberships even more popular?

    Almost half of all U.S. households are Amazon Prime members. The annual fee has been an impediment for lower-income households to join. Now that impediment is reduced. I believe the end result will be more members and larger baskets. As for Amazon's competitors, again, they find themselves in the position of having to follow Amazon, relinquishing the first-mover advantage. Amazon will continue to innovate and test all forms of delivery, payment and communication options!
  • Posted on: 06/14/2017

    How smart is Jet.com’s decision to delist Costco’s Kirkland brand?

    I'm not entirely convinced that excluding competitor offerings makes strategic or financial sense. However if you are going to do it, be consistent.
  • Posted on: 06/13/2017

    Can retailers escape the scourge of free shipping?

    Free shipping in some form is the "new normal" for most consumers. Like the cat who tasted fresh tuna, there is no going back to the canned variety. The key will be finding creative ways to cover these costs. It is difficult to believe that Amazon Prime is now 12 years old. Now Amazon offers free same-day delivery in limited markets. It is free for Prime members for orders over $35. About half of all of the households in the U.S. are Amazon Prime members.All of the noted options will have some applicability going forward. The key is to match the options to your offerings and your target market. As a fan of some form of click-and-collect, this may be a viable option for covering the "final mile" costs of delivery. If this alternative, also referred to as BOPIS (Buy Online Pickup in Store), incentivizes the customer to visit the store, then the opportunities for additional sales can mitigate the cost associated with this form of delivery.
  • Posted on: 06/09/2017

    Is IKEA really going to start selling on Amazon’s Marketplace?

    As noted by others, this evolution makes sense. The nature of IKEA's furniture (flat pack) is a good fit with online. Amazon is the recognized search and fulfillment leader for online furniture. This collaboration provides benefits to both - for IKEA it gives a presence on the leading online site and for Amazon it reinforces its image as the leading source for any type of consumer product.
  • Posted on: 06/01/2017

    Should Amazon buy Macy’s?

    In a perfect world, such an acquisition would seem to make sense. However I would caution Amazon against a Macy's purchase. Beyond the brick-and-mortar distribution advantages (BOPIS, expediting returns, add-on in-store sales, etc.) the two different retailers appear to be just that -- different. The differences are in their respective strategies, target markets, differential advantages, competitive environments and organizational structures.Does Amazon need some type of brick-and-mortar option? Yes, and it is testing alternatives. However the acquisition of Macy's should not be considered a viable option.
  • Posted on: 05/26/2017

    Will independent grocers turn it around in 2017?

    It has always been a challenge operating independently, beginning with battling the emerging chains and dealing with the Walmart effect (particularly Supercenters) and now extreme value retailers as well as Amazon and the like.My advice to independent grocers is to think like a brand and act like a retailer. In doing so, these terrific organizations need to establish their own identity instead of attempting to simply emulate the big guys or the online competitors. Recall that when Walmart began to aggressively roll out its Supercenters, many independent grocers attempted to fight Walmart on Walmart's terms, namely, price. This would have been akin to Mike Tyson entering a room where I was speaking and challenging me to a contest. If he said I could pick the challenge, would I have said, let's box? The independents who got into the boxing ring with Walmart got destroyed. Those who found ways to compete against Walmart by creating differential advantages that Walmart could not emulate survived.Now these survivors needs to fight on many fronts. My advice is the same as it was 20 years ago. Figure out what you can do that the giants can't or won't do. The primary difference from the Walmart Supercenter effect example is that technology has changed the game. Independents need to figure out a way to provide online shopping. The costs are great but the risks of not doing so are greater. This is where IGA, NGA and FMI can help. With help these independents will continue to thrive and grow in their niche markets.
  • Posted on: 05/24/2017

    Will recruiting military vets give Walmart and Amazon a competitive edge?

    Primarily veterans bring a sense of responsibility and order emanating from their military backgrounds. They have the ability to work well in structured environments, both characteristic of Walmart and Amazon.I believe both programs will offer Walmart and Amazon a competitive advantage in the recruiting and development of their associates. An ancillary marketplace competitive advantage may be found in the differential advantage of employing members of the U.S. Armed Forces (active or retired) who are recognized as having one of the most respected careers in the U.S.
  • Posted on: 05/22/2017

    Will Hy-Vee’s grocerant strategy set it apart from rivals?

    I'm not certain about the sit-down option. It requires you to perform at restaurant levels which is a different business than operating a supermarket. On the other hand, grab-and-go, meal kits, etc. are certainly in their sweet spot. Restaurants of all types (white table cloth, QSR and LSR) continue to struggle with sluggish growth. Supermarket meal options represent real value, growth and differentiation opportunities.
  • Posted on: 05/17/2017

    Why is Walmart so concerned about Aldi and Lidl?

    Walmart understands that Aldi is no longer the silent killer in the market. It's simply a killer that provides value, quantity and quality that the extreme value retailers (think dollar stores) cannot. Similarly, Lidl has been described as "Aldi on steroids." It will have Aldi-like pricing in more attractive stores with a wider range of recognized CPG products.Plus the U.K. lesson cannot be ignored. It is not that history repeats itself, instead it is the failure to learn from history that repeats itself. Finally, Walmart recognizes that it is cheaper to defend market share than it is to try and win it back. Its preemptive pricing and other preemptive and defensive tactics should be seriously considered by other retailers competing with these German giants.
  • Posted on: 05/15/2017

    Will consumers decide meal kits just aren’t worth buying?

    Meal kits will have a healthy following for many of the reasons noted in the article. However, grocers have a weapon in their arsenals today that could effectively counteract the meal kit phenomenon. It's called the end cap. Unfortunately, most retailers have "sold" this precious real estate to the highest CPG bidder. Instead, take one end cap and feature a different easy to prepare meal per week. For example, how about a fresh pasta dinner? The end cap would have a couple of pastas, a red and a white sauce, Italian bread, Parmesan cheese, capers, olive oil and a recommended wine. In addition to the ingredients, a simple recipe would accompany each recommended meal. Want to demonstrate convenience and value? Prepackage a meal and provide a discount for purchasing the entire contents.
  • Posted on: 05/12/2017

    Do customer reviews suffer from a herd mentality?

    The positive skew is not surprising, particularly if a customer is keying into a particular brand for whatever reason, e.g., price, brand name, etc. The key is for retailers to hear what they don't want to hear, namely the more negative comments. While the extremely positive comments (5s) are good for marketing purposes, they do little to help the retailer improve.I suggest retailers throw out the outliers (1s and 5s) and concentrate on the 2-4 ratings. This is where the best learning will surface.
  • Posted on: 05/11/2017

    What makes consumers so loyal to Publix, Wegmans, Trader Joe’s and H-E-B?

    Before I comment on the question, I believe the concept of loyalty is totally backward. People can be loyal to their family, church, country, alma mater, etc. Loyalty to a food grocer or any other retailer makes no sense. As retailers, we need to be loyal to our customers. How do we do this? Simple -- deliver and then exceed on our promises to our customers. If we do this we can enjoy customer continuity of purchases.As far as the basis for customers continuing to give us their business -- value, cleanliness and the quality/variety of offerings are the ante. Each of the leading supermarkets noted in the article excel on attributes beyond the big three. In my research, customers have identified the top 10 most important supermarket attributes:
    • Accurate check out;
    • Speedy check out;
    • Uncluttered aisles;
    • Easy access to parking lot;
    • Prices visible when scanned;
    • Accurate shelf tags;
    • Complaints quickly and fairly responded to;
    • Shopper friendly store layout;
    • Sale prices honored without the need to clip coupons;
    • No products on shelf after "sell by" date.

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