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: 09/02/2021

    Can 14 and 15-year-olds solve the labor shortage?

    I have mixed thoughts on this. If they can tolerate being cashiers, OK. Do I want a 14 or 15-year-old in a hot fry kitchen or lifting heavy boxes at Home Depot? I'm not so sure about that. Also, when you are talking about food, we have to remember that young teens can be mischievous. Having said this, I have no question that their brains are developed enough to handle these tasks. I do a lot of reading and application of linear algebra and related concepts such as eigenvectors. I once found this great review piece on all the major concepts in linear algebra -- such a great cheat sheet that I printed it out and saved it. Then I saw that the author was a 15-year-old who happened to have a passion for linear algebra! So intellectually, there are no issues.
  • Posted on: 09/01/2021

    What’s the formula for e-commerce profitability?

    In addition to supply chain efficiencies, e-commerce also allows you to build a first party database of those interested in your brand, and what their underlying interests are. If used properly this should results in a 50 percent improvement in ROAS based on my white paper research.
  • Posted on: 08/31/2021

    Best Buy builds a virtual store to assist customers remotely

    I think this is brilliant and feels very contemporary. What I KNOW -- the most predictive element (in terms of conditional probabilities) of a downstream add-to-cart event is for someone to view a product page. This is like that but on steroids because it is curated with human interaction (virtually). It is something that product marketers should welcome (there is potentially a shopper marketing program embedded here) and it is something that Amazon would be hard pressed to respond to. Last but not least, it is something that consumers will welcome as a mid-stage shopper journey option. So all around, I love this!
  • Posted on: 08/30/2021

    Can IKEA’s store layout still amaze without a maze?

    This retailing concept is used by them, Bed Bath & Beyond and Stew Leonards. Not sure who else does it. I have to imagine that sales are below targets if they are experimenting with an alternative format. Certainly BBB is having some troubles based on store closings. There is the first law of holes: "If you are in a hole, stop digging." So I am guessing, if they have stopped digging, they might be in a hole.
  • Posted on: 08/27/2021

    Do retailers need a chief data officer?

    Absoutely! Any larger retailer (this includes QSR) must cultivate first party assets and such data needs management from three perspectives (in no particular order): 1) how to leverage for CRM-based marketing and advertising to your own customers (this will exhibit five times the ROAS; 2) how to manage privacy; 3) how to leverage assets into ad tech services. This is 50 percent margin stuff and Amazon is now #3 in ad revenues approaching $20 billion. Walmart is moving in that direction, although late to the party. Target is doing this via Rondel. Marketing based on naturally occurring first-party assets is essential for anyone who wants to be best in class.
  • Posted on: 08/18/2021

    Should grocery stores retire the ethnic aisle?

    I think multiple aisles might be better (Mexican food is pretty big and mainstream), but it is an organization scheme that works for the shopper brain. In Publix, they also have a great international aisle, organized by country/world region. Never would have found marmite in Florida without it!
  • Posted on: 08/05/2021

    Kroger seeks to ghost up take-home and meal delivery sales with dark kitchens

    The world of food splits pretty much evenly between on-premises and off-premises. The other half of the market has always been the big target. This seems like a very well thought out attempt to take a few bites from that other apple.
  • Posted on: 08/03/2021

    Will increasing mall traffic hit a speed bump due to the Delta variant?

    Some issues, yes. DiBlasio, just this morning, is making it mandatory that NYC indoor diners and gym users show proof of vaccination. The numbers in Florida are horrendous. The only hope is that this moves through fast because the R naught is so high. Regardless, it is also true that government policy trails the triggering event, so I think there will be restrictions from government and self-imposed.
  • Posted on: 08/02/2021

    Should food be an afterthought for Target?

    If they are not serious about food, shoppers will not be serious about buying food there. Then it becomes an unfavorable point of comparison to Walmart and it won't drive much traffic and become a negative for the brand image. If they are in, they need to go all-in and treat it seriously. Should they go in or abandon? There is a lot of shopper insights research to be done there and analysis of sales in stores with and without food.
  • Posted on: 07/28/2021

    Will smaller retailers pay to use Walmart’s tech and transform their own businesses?

    Purchase-based information is absolutely the best way to target advertising for maximum ROAS. My work has proved that those with a 20-80% probability of choosing a given brand are five times more responsive to advertising for that brand vs. other category buyers. Amazon has purchase and also upstream shopping data that they leveraged into being #3 in ad revenues after Google and FB. So Walmart has possibly an even better graph than Amazon so getting into AdTech (50% margins too) is a big deal. Broadening the application through other retailers is brilliant. It is also possibly that those retailers are passing data back as part of the deal. Brilliant stuff although late ... but better late than never.
  • Posted on: 07/09/2021

    Retailers still have a COVID-19 problem

    I cannot understand why there is resistance to getting vaccinated. And we are not out of the woods. Israel and Japan have seen a resurgence as have half the states. Vaccination is right for you, your family, and for your neighbors. Having said that, in areas that have low vaccination rates, a retailer has to be careful that it doesn't become a freedom issue that creates a blowback. Retailers can require vaccination of their employees and require they wear a mask. That might also send a signal to those who are compliant but might otherwise think it is okay to go "masks off."
  • Posted on: 06/21/2021

    Can Victoria’s Secret shift its brand image from sexy to empowering?

    You know, I really think this might have been based on an over-reliance on "right-think." In social media, those ideas are very prominent, but I suspect not so much on main street USA. I prefer Dove's approach ... the real meaning of beauty. Their sketches campaign was absolutely brilliant.
  • Posted on: 06/16/2021

    Is simpler better for rewards programs?

    Simplicity always wins! Why do you think Google and Amazon are so successful? I have often said any website needs to be as intuitive as buying a book from Amazon the first time. About the structure, I think airline award-style programs with high thresholds would only suffer from those who might think they will never get to an award level. As such, smaller awards along the way would encourage continued participation and initial signup, BUT IT HAS TO BE SIMPLE! Please, no gamification ideas or badges ... that would be so 2005!
  • Posted on: 06/14/2021

    Is Netflix about to replicate Disney’s product merchandising success?

    Interesting. Merchandise for shows like Stranger Things should be a hit. One more advantage -- they KNOW who watched what shows! This makes the targeting of e-mails, ads, and personalization on sign-in off-the-charts effective. Although the discussion topic doesn't call for this comment, the BIG idea is for them to start taking advertising.
  • Posted on: 06/08/2021

    Will prescription med discounts help Walmart+ gain ground on Amazon Prime?

    This is an area where Walmart is ahead of Amazon. For Walmart to press this advantage now, before Amazon can respond, is brilliant. Also, Rx medication has a barrier to switching that doesn't exist for other products so this can be a great lock-in strategy for Walmart. Overall, very good move.

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