PROFILE

Ron Margulis

Managing Director, RAM Communications
Ronald Margulis is Managing Director of RAM Communications, a public relations firm based in Cranford, NJ. RAM Communications provides media relations counseling, trade marketing and communications support to clients in the retail, transportation, manufacturing and technology industries. Among the services offered are media relations, information sourcing, speech writing, issue research and analysis, editorial and design analysis, newsletter publishing, presentation and video scripting, marketing brochure and training manual production, focus groups and meeting planning.

With more than 1,000 articles published, Margulis is also an accredited journalist. His writings on the food, retail, tobacco, information technology and transportation industries have appeared in Canadian Business, Chicago Tribune, Cigar Magazine, Computerworld, Convenience Store News, Distribution Channels, Executive Technology, FT.com, Food Arts, Forbes, ID, Sales & Marketing, Shipping Digest, Supermarket News, Washington Times and several other newspapers and magazines. As an editor and reporter, he has interviewed more than 50 CEOs of leading global companies and dozens of government officials including four US Cabinet Secretaries, the Governor of the Bank of England and the Treasurer of Australia.

Margulis has won numerous awards for his writing, has written more than one dozen industry reports/white papers and is contributing editor of three professional reference books. He has been quoted in several leading newspapers and magazines, including The Wall Street Journal, Associated Press, Philadelphia Inquirer and Smart Money, on topics ranging from technology to crisis communications, and has been featured on Bloomberg Radio, Talk Canada, Westwood One and National Public Radio. He has spoken at numerous business and academic conferences, and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and the Public Relations Society of America.

Margulis graduated with honors from George Washington University, earned an MBA in economics from New York University and studied journalism at University of London. The son and grandson of supermarket operators, he also completed a management training internship and meat cutter’s apprenticeship at Wakefern Food Corp. (Shop-Rite Supermarkets).

Margulis is married to Patricia Paul, an artist. They live in New Jersey with their daughter Elena. His recreational activities and hobbies include fencing (President, Westfield Fencing Club), hiking, skiing, reading, cooking and map collecting
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  • Posted on: 11/09/2017

    Are retailers caught in a content trap?

    The thing inhibiting change in the relationship between retailers and customers, particularly in the grocery channel, is the continued existence of trade promotion dollars. As long as retailers are getting funds to support products the consumer may or may not want, the two-way dialogue will be stifled. There is a great blog on this here.
  • Posted on: 11/03/2017

    Will this be the year REI regrets opting out of Black Friday?

    As a member of REI, I’d advise them to continue not worrying about Black Friday in the stores but step up their e-commerce activities. They don’t customize their outbound communications to match customer interest (either through sales data or survey), which would help engage shopper/members. And the site has amazing content that is updated regularly, but there isn’t any cross merchandising to speak of. I understand they’re trying to be unique in not being too commercial, but I’d wager members would like to know what to consider buying after they’ve read the story about setting up a camp kitchen.
  • Posted on: 10/31/2017

    Corona owner is getting into the legal pot business

    I’ve been visiting Colorado for business at least five times a year since before cannabis was legalized there and can report that the pot industry there is developing in the same trajectory as the craft beer and whiskey businesses. Smaller producers and a limited number of retail outlets at first, but then pretty rapid growth of both. Now that at least some of the dispensaries are accepting credit cards, I expect there to be some consolidation on both the supply and retail side. Further, I can see some sort of channelization of retailers -- co-ops, chains, independents -- going forward.As to the questions at hand, more than half of the states will have legalized recreational use of pot in five years, but I doubt it will be the law of the land until around 2027. And yes, mainstream CPG companies will move aggressively into the production, distribution and marketing of cannabis, led by the tobacco and, as evidenced by this story, the alcohol industries.
  • Posted on: 10/12/2017

    Are store brands a ‘fundamental defining piece’ of the retail experience?

    With all the positives store brands deliver to retailers, there are also several potential negatives. First and foremost of these is the impact on the retailer’s overall brand reputation if (when, really) there is a product recall or related safety issue. With store brands, the hit in these cases is totally on the retailer -- there is no national brand to push it off on. There is also an innovation challenge. Ask yourself, how many store brands are anything other than imitations of national brands? Private label marketers may not see this as their role in retail merchandising, but it has been widely reported that Millennials want new experiences and copies aren’t new.Other potential issues facing private label include merchandising (impact on trade dollars from national brands) and demand forecasting (the worst thing to happen to a store brand is to be out-of-stock).
  • Posted on: 10/02/2017

    Could retail workers benefit from implanted microchips?

    Why would the transhumanism movement gain traction when the same goals can be met without surgically implanting chips? I expect the smartphone or watch will be used to automate these same tasks for a decade or more before implants gain even a little toehold.
  • Posted on: 09/14/2017

    Millennials, not Boomers, say associates are key to shopping experiences

    While reading this story, I couldn’t help but think about Dana Carvey’s impression of an angry old man on SNL’s Weekend Update years ago in which he’d start off each skit with “In my day ... ” Well, in the Baby Boomers' day, service was at a much higher level, or so many of that generation believe. What they see in stores and on the phone today is something completely different. Younger shoppers don’t have that perspective of gas station attendants cleaning their windows, bellhops carrying their bags to the hotel room or the bagboy loading groceries into cars. As a result, they expect a bit less from store associates. This doesn’t mean younger shoppers don’t want to have access to staff when they need them or that older shoppers avoid staff. And it doesn’t mean either group is looking forward to a future of dealing with robots. Rather it means that retailers need to customize the experience for both groups of customers so staff members are properly trained to engage the shoppers where, when and how they want to be engaged. That goes for robots too.
  • Posted on: 09/11/2017

    Professor says price gouging is simple supply and demand at work

    To preface my comment, I don’t get to use my graduate education all that often so please bear with me. I have a graduate degree in economics from NYU, one of the bastions of the Austrian School, which Professor Horowitz clearly supports. The Austrian School, as I recall from my advisor who wasn’t a member, doesn’t like using math to measure or validate its central theses because it would poke huge holes in them. More germane to this topic, the Austrian School is libertarian at its roots and wants the market to determine practically everything in society. By extension, as Professor Horowitz suggests, pricing in a crisis should be left to supply and demand. This is callous at best and dangerous at worst. Like other critics of the Austrian School, I believe its ideals are outdated and don’t consider a wide range of variables facing 21st century economics, including the impact of advances in technology and climate change. I guess the real question is what kind of society do we want -- one that helps the neediest in times of peril, or one that charges them 20 times the cost for water?
  • Posted on: 09/08/2017

    Will CVS’ sales take off in airports?

    To a very large degree, the success of these kiosks will depend on the pricing strategy CVS deploys. In airports and similar locations every consumer knows they’re getting ripped off buying aspirin and other HBC items at the newsstands. They buy the item because they forgot to pack it and chalk it up to a stupidity cost. If these same customers saw the items in a kiosk at a price point closer to what they’d pay at regular retail, either the newsstand would have to stop selling them or price more competitively. Certainly a win for the weary traveler and maybe a win for CVS.
  • Posted on: 09/05/2017

    Five pain points grocers must address to survive in an Amazon/Whole Foods world

    What, nothing about the staff? The human factor has to be the point of differentiation for traditional grocers. The technology at Amazon and other e-commerce retailers hasn’t gotten to the point where their bots are as good as a human can be for a full range of services (yet!). Until they can empathize with a mother having a bad day with her kids, help a father get all the things on his list without meandering throughout the store and help carry out orders to the car, e-commerce sites are the one playing catch-up.
  • Posted on: 08/17/2017

    Is Walmart on an unstoppable run?

    Walmart is positioning itself very well for an almost inevitable economic downturn. The retailer isn’t mimicking Amazon Prime, which may be one of those “luxury expenses” consumers facing challenging financial circumstances give up. Walmart is pushing its low-price reputation to the extreme. And it is building out the fresh offering pretty aggressively in-store, although there is a lot of work to do for the segment on Walmart.com.
  • Posted on: 08/04/2017

    Are the four Ps of marketing irrelevant for retailers?

    I don’t care if you have the greatest and most engaged staff, offer the best experiences and interact with the shopper everywhere, price will always be a key factor in retail marketing. Even in times of relative prosperity and especially during economic downturns, price is critical. You think Amazon is stealing market share solely with customer experience, product assortment and convenience?
  • Posted on: 06/22/2017

    Does Costco need to significantly undercut Amazon’s prices?

    If Costco really wants to grow digital traffic, and it’s very important that it does, the company needs to start engaging its shoppers digitally. I’ve been a Costco member for more than 20 years and I haven’t received more than a dozen emails related to product or services offered (although they were very good about the switch from Amex to Citibank). I’ve checked to make sure I’m not on some “do not contact” list, but a quick survey of acquaintances reveals I’m not alone. I get something from Amazon just about every day. I don’t open most of them, but I do open some that have interesting subject lines. I just don’t see how Costco can keep up with Amazon without a concerted digital engagement effort.
  • Posted on: 06/14/2017

    Who owns the in-store experience?

    There is a disconnect that has me more worried than any issue with in-store staff not engaging the customers. Merchandisers and marketers often seem to live in their own little world, interacting only with suppliers and other merchandisers and marketers. They’ve lost, or maybe never had, a feel for what the customer really wants. If you’re selling the wrong products and promoting them with the wrong message, you’re bound to fail regardless of the in-store engagement.
  • Posted on: 06/06/2017

    Has produce-selling Dollar General become a real threat to traditional grocers?

    I’d like to see them succeed because they often serve communities that are under-served with fresh foods, but what they’re attempting is extremely difficult. These stores currently get shipments once or twice a week, which will likely lead to out-of-stocks or big shrink numbers. There is a significant cost to servicing the stores every day which Aldi and Lidl (and supermarkets) build into their business model and the deep discounters haven’t.Stick to what you’re good at Dollar General and that doesn’t include perishables.
  • Posted on: 06/02/2017

    Can Walmart workers deliver better last mile results on their way home from work?

    This sort of flows from my frequently related opinion about the demise and potential return of the milk man (see several past comments).There are many benefits including shopper engagement, upselling potential and employee appreciation. Plus there’s no worry about the FAA regulating your drones.Timing will be the biggest issue -- Walmart has some pretty unusual schedules for its associates, most aren’t leaving work at the same time each day. I suppose they can coordinate the outbound deliveries with the time and attendance system to address this. Payment for delivery and benefits/insurance could also be an issue. And don’t forget safety and loss prevention.Also, one wonders if the employees will be picking up returns on their way to work.

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