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: 04/26/2017

    Can parking lots save the mall?

    On the surface, I think the idea of using mall parking lots to create excitement is a good one. However, malls as we know them today are threatened by forces that cannot be remedied by parking lot events that have no real connection to the retailers inside the mall.On the other hand, supermarkets could better use their massive parking lots to tie into their inside operations. For example in a dedicated part of the parking lot, offer a corn on the cob eating contest, a fresh crab boil, a weekly farmer's market, a space for dog groomers to do their thing, etc. The key is to use this space to create the noted excitement as well as drive customers into the store. These operators don't need carnivals, car shows or concerts. Instead make it focused and relevant to the stores' brand and operations.
  • Posted on: 04/25/2017

    Would Albertsons and Whole Foods make a good match?

    This is one acquisition that Albertsons needs to keep its hands out of the customer-facing part of the business. Certainly Whole Foods could benefit from the synergies and savings in overhead, insurance, etc. that such an acquisition generates. However, Whole Foods does not look or act like the rest of the banners in its portfolio. Albertsons should use the resources generated from this acquisition to re-energize the Whole Foods brand, with management that understands this business as opposed to the regular, conventional supermarket business.
  • Posted on: 04/24/2017

    What customer service lessons can be learned from United Airlines?

    There is no doubt that an Amazon experience, devoid of contact with a potentially unknowledgeable or unfriendly in-store associate, has its advantages. However, I am not convinced that most retailers are investing sufficient resources to recruit and prepare their customer-facing staffs.Only providing 10 hours per year in training to do all of the tasks required is insufficient. Ritz-Carlton provides more than 200 hours of initial and on-the-job training to its employees in the first year and 100 hours of training in the following years. In addition, every morning at every Ritz-Carlton, the staff holds a 15-minute “Daily Line-Up” to discuss the plan for the day, talk about special events and important guests and share an inspiring quote.While I am not suggesting this level of investment for retail staff, there is more that can and should be done to delight customers in-store. There is no reason to surrender all this business to Amazon et al. Similarly, stating that your organization is doing a better job that United Airlines is akin to declaring you have the best stateroom on the Titanic.
  • Posted on: 04/21/2017

    Are Millennials and Gen Z more about convenience or price when they shop?

    In my three national surveys of Millennials, not surprisingly, I found that they were increasing their use of technology when shopping. My shopping research was focused on grocery shopping. Almost one quarter of all Millennials used online/internet/mobile to shop for groceries in the past 30 days. Conversely, despite FMI statistics that suggest 90 percent of all Americans shop for groceries in a regular full-service supermarket during the same time period, slightly more than half of all Millennials shopped in a regular full service supermarket during the previous 30 days.In preparing/doing their food shopping this group made extensive use of the following:
    • Email circulars;
    • Online coupons;
    • Visits to store websites;
    • Mobile technology for learning;
    • Mobile technology to compare prices.
    This generation does not have the same attitudes/behaviors and will not spend on the same categories as their parents did. Food marketers who assume that the Millennials will start to behave like current older Americans, just because they age, do so at their peril. 
  • Posted on: 04/17/2017

    Are outlet malls an outlier?

    As noted in the article, the physical environment (outdoors) and thrill of the hunt (prices and variety) have been a winning combination to date. I suspect these factors will continue to serve this segment well. I am less concerned about brand dilution since many of the large retailers who sell these brands are in trouble on their own.One scenario is that the branded stores in traditional outlets will suffer the demise of the large, enclosed malls; leaving the outlet malls as their primary point of physical distribution, competing with other brands in the outlet malls as well as facing online competition. The key is to remember that outlet malls still carry their brand identity and the brand needs to be continually developed within this context.
  • Posted on: 04/14/2017

    What’s keeping shoppers away from the frozen aisle?

    This article is right on about the frozen aisle. In a focus group that I was conducting, a shopper described this part of the store as "cold, white, dull, boring metal." Unfortunately, for the reasons noted shoppers don't shop the frozen food aisle, instead they buy the selected items on their shopping list, no browsing here. The idea of romancing the aisle is one approach.How about moving some of the items into other parts of the store? For example, a small freezer with Texas Toast could be placed in the pasta/pasta sauce aisle or another small freezer with selected frozen breakfast items (bacon and egg sandwiches, pancakes, and waffles) next to coffee and tea might generate incremental, unplanned sales.Now, I know what you are thinking. What about the electric mechanicals? Or who is going to stock the freezer? Or perhaps who is going to get the ring? Based on the previously noted focus group session, I worked with a retailer who placed a small refrigerated case, containing flavored dairy creamers, in the coffee aisle. As a professor at a Jesuit University, I must disclose that it almost failed. Why? They couldn't keep it stocked, resulting in incremental sales of dairy creamers of over 20%.We need to find ways to transform the sale of frozen products from limited buying to shopping occasions.
  • Posted on: 04/13/2017

    Are retail CEOs ready to ‘disagree and commit’ like Jeff Bezos?

    One of the hallmarks of great leaders is their ability to make bold decisions in the absence of complete information. We have all experienced situations in which we have suffered from analysis paralysis. What also separates Bezos and Amazon from the rest of the pack is the company's refusal to become complacent about its success.
  • Posted on: 04/12/2017

    Will an in-store pickup discount give Walmart an edge over Amazon?

    Another alternative to the final-mile issue. The Walmart pickup discount program drives customers to the store with the opportunity for incremental/impulse higher-margin items. To this end this alternative takes advantage of Amazon's current lack of brick-and-mortar alternatives. The key will be the ease of in-store pickup at Walmart. Discount or otherwise, this will be the Achilles' heel for Walmart.Amazon will probably test something similar to Walmart's pickup discounts in the stores it develops. Also, I envision Amazon offering something comparable to other large specialty retailers, e.g., Home Depot, Lowe's, etc.
  • Posted on: 04/05/2017

    BrainTrust throwdown: Is it inevitable that tech companies will dominate retail?

    While I tend to lean toward Ryan's position that people make the difference in any business, I am not so sanguine that traditional retailers are able to make the change in their models and thinking to compete effectively in this new environment. King Kullen introduced the first supermarket in 1930 and the first Walmart Supercenter did not arrive on the scene until 1988. Supermarkets were basically unchanged for almost 60 years adding SKUs and featuring low prices. Eventually, traditional supermarkets realized that they could compete with the Supercenters on strategic issues other than price. However, under this scenario they realized that by being better merchants they could compete with the Walmart crowd.It's not the same since Amazon was founded in 1994. Amazon and others represent a real paradigm shift in which all players, including the veterans, go back to zero. If traditional retailers do not realize and act on this, Ken's view of the retailing world of the future will prevail.
  • Posted on: 04/04/2017

    Is the time right for Publix to begin a major rollout of its GreenWise stores?

    Publix has toyed with alternate formats, including GreenWise and Sabor. In Florida, Publix has the dominant market share with little in the way of competition beyond Walmart, Fresh Market and Whole Foods. With Whole Foods struggling, this preemptive strike in Florida makes sense. In addition, while the company continues its trek north, the GreenWise banner provides a point of difference relative to the new mainstream competition it encounters.
  • Posted on: 03/31/2017

    Why is Amazon trying to convince CPG giants to go consumer direct?

    At the end of the day, Amazon is the world's most successful fulfillment or logistics company. It matters not to Amazon whether it features and sells on its website or fulfills other manufacturers' product sales. For manufacturers, the Amazon offer of fulfillment is another channel option that achieves a couple of things: 1.) It provides manufacturers with an immediate access to their customers without waiting for retailers to develop their omnichannel presence. 2.) It solves the final-mile delivery challenge for manufacturers.This represents a real opportunity for manufacturers and a real threat to traditional retailers.
  • Posted on: 03/30/2017

    What does the decision to close Quidsi say about the battle between Amazon and Jet.com?

    I think the acquisition of Quidsi by Amazon and Jet.com by Walmart are very similar. First, it took potential major competitors out of the market. However, more importantly both Quidsi and Jet.com provided insights that each needed. For Amazon, Quidsi provided them insight into specialty categories. Walmart needed Jet.com to close the huge sales and knowledge gap that exists between it and Amazon. I see no reason for Walmart stakeholders to get nervous about the closing of Quidsi.
  • Posted on: 03/29/2017

    Will Amazon drive-up grocery stores disrupt food retailing?

    Amazon continues to test all viable options to the logistics and costs associated with the final mile. I think this is simply another option that provides Amazon customers with convenience, service and transparency. Plus, it puts more pressure on conventional food retailers to develop their own omnichannel experience.
  • Posted on: 03/22/2017

    Will tech innovations change foodservice?

    As noted by others, this technology has speed, accuracy and cost-saving advantages. The potential downside is its socioeconomic impact, namely, the loss of jobs for lower-wage workers. While the latest buzz is around Universal Basic Income (UBI), the concept has its critics. This program, initiated as a test in Finland, offering universal income promises workers greater security, especially as technological advances reduce the need for human labor. It will also allow unemployed people to pick up odd jobs without losing their benefits.Certainly, discussions of this concept will move to the forefront as such technological advances become reality.
  • Posted on: 03/15/2017

    How will AmazonFresh Pickup stores affect the grocery business?

    I would not bet against Amazon. In some respects this latest Amazon experiment is another way to deal with the expensive "final mile" costs as well as provide the opportunity for the purchase of additional items in-store while collecting the online-ordered goods.For other grocery retailers there are two implications: 1.) Online is still marching along to the projected forecasts and sitting on the sideline is no longer a viable option. 2.) Brick-and-mortar retailers should be better than Amazon in romancing the in-store experience and operating stores. This is their territory and potential competitive advantage. They need to use it.

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