Joel Rubinson

President, Rubinson Partners, Inc.

Joel is President of Rubinson Partners, Inc. marketing and research consulting for a brave new world. Prior to that, as Chief Research Officer at The ARF, Joel interacted directly with hundreds of research leaders and drove the organization’s initiatives regarding notably:

  • Research transformation (designing the future of the profession)
  • 360 media and marketing
  • Social media and listening
  • Online research data quality
  • Shopper insights

Joel helped build awareness of the ARF and its priorities by building a sizable social media presence via a blog that achieved thousands of page views each month and with a twitter profile of nearly 3,000 followers.

Prior to joining the ARF, Joel was Senior Vice-President, Head of Advanced Solutions for Synovate North America where he was their leading branding resource and was also the global thought leader for shopper research. Before joining Synovate, Joel was at the NPD Group for many years, leading the creation of tools for brand equity management (BrandBuilder), new product forecasting (ESP), category management and designed many of their data collection and sampling methodologies as NPD changed from paper diaries to online research. Joel started his research career at Unilever.

Joel is also a published author of numerous papers in professional journals and frequent speaker at industry conferences. He has taught the official American Marketing Association advanced tutorial on brand loyalty and lectured at Columbia, NYU, Wharton, Amos Tuck School, and University of Rochester, among others. Joel holds an MBA in statistics and economics from the University of Chicago and a BS from NYU.

  • Posted on: 06/18/2018

    Is Amazon killing Barnes & Noble’s chances for a turnaround?

    there's a rule in sales: "always look for the second right answer." But in this case, look to the first right answer of course! Borders was also a casualty of Amazon. There's no need for sorrow -- this is the way business reinvents itself. Can Barnes & Noble do things to survive? Probably, but it will be based on the experience they deliver.
  • Posted on: 06/05/2018

    Is data-driven marketing holding back storytelling?

    the answer to the topic title is NO! Data does not hold back storytelling, it roots the story in a truth. The big problem is storytelling WITHOUT evidence! I have seen so much of that in marketing it makes me crazy. I won't name names but when I was Chief Research Officer at the Advertising Research Foundation I was faced with stories in the echo chamber about the death of TV. Well, facts in 2008 proved TV was actually more effective and since then, ad revenues have grown not declined. How about the story that the ROI of social media is that you will be in business in five years? Well, paid advertising continues to drive marketing, social is a small percent of brand impressions and advertising is getting more effective with programmatic targeting of shopper and other segments. Data-driven marketing makes marketing better and that, in and of itself, makes for a heck of a story!
  • Posted on: 05/30/2018

    Is GDPR an opportunity or a threat to retailers?

    In terms of media, IMHO, GDPR is a disaster. It is generating billions of dollars of unproductive legal fees, has already led to frivolous lawsuits in the billions, has cut programmatic activity substantially, and perhaps worst, has led to changes in business practices that harm marketers' ability to optimize their media spending. In particular, it has led Google to no longer share Doubleclick IDs, the cornerstone of multi-touch attribution modeling. There is currently a battle between Google and all of its publishers who think Google is putting on a power play. Google is setting up a clean room inside its ad hub, but it is not yet understood. GDPR has made walled gardens higher, which NO MARKETER WANTS. Ultimately, this will lead to less relevant advertising to consumers which will lead them to like advertising less, not more. The latest legal opinions I have heard is that no one knows what GDPR compliance really is and so businesses will take ultra-conservative stances in the face of uncertainty.
  • Posted on: 05/21/2018

    Will greater transparency drive a digital targeting backlash?

    All surveys I have seen show that people do not like advertising. They do not like it on their TV, on the web, on their phone, etc. Yet they understand that is the cost of free media. People want relevant messages more than irrelevant ones, which is what precision targeting does. Most people do not understand that relevance comes from data. That is the marketing community's job to convey this. Targeting will be very important in a GDPR future, but it will be based more on first party data that is fully permissioned. I think the only losers might be 3rd party data aggregators, but I'm sure they have lawyers working on this right now.
  • Posted on: 03/23/2018

    In this digital revolution, stores are media

    I predicted in a blog last year that retailers as publishers was the coming sea change. Amazon could easily turn the big two into the big three. Walmart has similar assets. I live in digital and have done a lot in shopper. With all due respect, I think shopper experts miss the larger picture. It is not that the store is a medium. It is that retailers offer immersive physical and online environments that, when combined with unified deterministic data, will redefine marketing. I'm not sure the folks at Amazon or Walmart even realize what they have -- I bet they don't.
  • Posted on: 03/21/2018

    Albertsons launches an online marketplace for small CPG brands

    Some plusses and minuses here. On the plus side, shoppers love to discover new things and this helps to create a sense of discovery -- almost Target-like -- at Albertsons. Always felt retailers should feature what is new for a month. Shoppers would like it and the retailer could get additional trade funds. On the negative side, a retailer places their reputation on the line with every product they sell. Albertsons should make sure there is a vetting and inspection process that is as rigorous as a buyer would use to put something on the shelf.
  • Posted on: 03/20/2018

    Retailers differ on the value of location analytics

    There are two elements to consider with location data. One is the ability to trigger advertising based on location. The other is creating targetable segments based on how an individual user habitually navigates the real world. I have seen a lot of success with the later, providing accurate segment classifications. Location data is one way to target people at relevant moments. It has great promise, especially for retailers but ultimately, it needs to be proven out via AB testing. I am optimistic such testing will support its value based on a series of experiments I have an indirect relationship with at the Mobile Marketing Association.
  • Posted on: 03/09/2018

    Music stores play the blues as consumers play on(line)

    Interesting and personal discussion for me both as a musician and because my first cousin Elliott created one of the largest music store chains (Thoroughbred music) in the country that he sold to Sam Ash. Any older musician who passed through Florida would tell you about Thoroughbred. He then owned and ran Dean Guitars and D-Drums. Now his son (my second cousin Evan) runs the business. Elliott told me (and others who visited the store) that Thoroughbred was a place musicians would hang out, jam, socialize, and feel a part of a community. Sounds a lot like Apple stores! Now I go into a store only when I have to buy something and I would love to whip out some harps and jam, but they tell me to be quiet! BTW, music tastes are changing. Ukes are the big thing now. I think Elliott had the right idea about community.
  • Posted on: 02/12/2018

    No joke – Walmart asks CPGs for higher priced products

    This makes sense. All of America wants affordable luxury and that is what Walmart is asking for ... the better and best alternatives to good CPG products. They will never charge more for good products than other retailers. It serves their customers and helps them manage the cost structure better.
  • Posted on: 01/31/2018

    FMI says switch to online grocery sales going faster than expected

    It seems like Nielsen was following the old forecasting advice -- give 'em a number and a date but never both at the same time!
  • Posted on: 01/22/2018

    Amazon Go goes live

    This is a great idea (assuming the technical issues of taking something off the shelf then putting it back does not result in a charge). However, it is non-differentiating in the long run. Some of you might be as old as me and remember when automobile companies first came out with automatic transmissions and branded them like "Cruise-o-matic." And in the movie theater there was Technicolor. This is the same thing. However, it is important to note that Amazon is staying one step ahead and also sees the future as the blending of physical and digital.
  • Posted on: 01/05/2018

    Will retail be woven into the fabric of the new, walkable suburb?

    There is no question that a vibrant main street has an appeal. I think this is more of a chamber of commerce or town supervisor issue however. I, for one, could not live in a town that has a dead or non-existent main street.
  • Posted on: 01/05/2018

    Can progressive web apps solve the app vs. browser dilemma?

    There is a fundamental difference between apps and mobile web that is not acknowledged by this article. Apps are downloaded ahead of time because you plan to use them. That means the retailer is already on your "short-list." When you search, you are looking for what you do not yet know about. Hence mobile web is about discovery and apps are about convenience. Mobile web is about building reach and apps are about building customer value. Apples and oranges really.
  • Posted on: 12/26/2017

    Is ‘brick mining’ valuable enough to justify physical stores?

    I don't think that in-store behaviors tell you that much about online retail preferences because I am in a physical store for a reason that is already differentiated from how online serves my needs. Retailers need to stay at a higher level to remain consumer-centric. How do I shop? Why do I choose to go online sometimes and in-store other times? What are the motivating moments? I personally happen to be buying a lot of stuff right now because we are buying a second home in Florida and have nothing -- no furniture, electronics, smart home, drapes, etc. -- for it. So, n = 1, but I can tell you everything I am buying is a mix of online and in-store behaviors. I shop online and in-store and buy things three ways -- online, in-store and by calling the local store once I know what I want and ordering it over the phone with a salesman. So net/net, the question implies a compartmentalization that will continue to break down over time. Ask consumers!
  • Posted on: 11/27/2017

    Customer data is grocery’s new battleground

    This discussion is framed too narrowly. Retailer data is absolutely transformative, but not just to the retailer. More broadly, it is transformative to how digital marketing will work. Right now there are two big publishers in digital -- Google and Facebook -- in terms of ad revenues. Amazon is now north of $2 billion in ad revenues without even trying hard! But now, they are offering an ad network from that leverages Amazon profiles -- displays deep buying behaviors and is fully integrated across screens. I predicted in a blog that you will see Amazon become the third behemoth of digital advertising because they are a combination of Google (as much product search occurs on Amazon as Google) and Walmart. then one week after the blog Google and Walmart announced a JV! And Walmart already offers an ad network to their vendors. This is the next big sea change in both brand and performance marketing. Huge retailers are becoming publishers and ad networks. And it is all because of the customer data they have.

Contact Joel

  • Apply to be a BrainTrust Panelist

  • Please briefly describe your qualifications — specifically, your expertise and experience in the retail industry.
  • By submitting this form, I give you permission to forward my contact information to designated members of the RetailWire staff.

    See RetailWire's privacy policy for more information about what data we collect and how it is used.