Phil Rubin

CEO, rDialogue

Phil is CEO of rDialogue, an Atlanta-based customer marketing firm with clients ranging from mid-market to Fortune 100 and in industries including retail, travel and hospitality, telecommunications, dining, financial services and pharmaceuticals. Representative clients include Caribou Coffee, Cracker Barrel, Kimpton Hotels and Sprint, as well as a number of clients that can’t be named like a world famous customer-centric department store.

He has nearly 20 years of strategic marketing experience with an emphasis on customer loyalty and relationship marketing, integrated communications, partnership development, promotions and program development. He founded the loyalty practice at Loyaltyworks and led the spin-off of the practice to rDialogue. Prior to Loyaltyworks he was Group Vice President and General Manager of The Lacek Group, a loyalty marketing firm now part of OgilvyOne. While at Lacek he established the Atlanta office and was responsible for leading the development and implementation of relationship marketing strategies on behalf of clients such as Delta Air Lines, Cox Communications and UPS.

Phil has developed and managed loyalty and relationship marketing as a client both at Midway Airlines and at GTE Wireless (now Verizon). He began his career going through Macy’s Executive Training Program and working in store management.

Phil has an M.B.A. with a concentration in Marketing and Strategy from Tulane University and a B.S. in finance from L.S.U.

Other Links from Phil Rubin:

  • Posted on: 10/16/2018

    ‘Frictionless’ is the annoying word of the year

    If "frictionless" is annoying to marketers and merchants -- and it is -- it's partially their fault. The implication is a better, less cumbersome and more relevant customer experience. Is frictionless the right term? Probably not, unless you are talking about ordering something via voice (e.g., via Alexa) and then having it show up at your door an hour or a day later. Time is a scarce resource and consumers increasingly place a high degree of value on their time, which includes when it's wasted by a retailer or other brand. According to our research, 83 percent of consumers believe it is extremely/very important that a brand makes their experience more convenient. Frictionless may not be exactly the same as convenient, but the idea and its importance are unmistakable.
  • Posted on: 10/10/2018

    Will Starbucks prosper or suffer under a hedge fund’s influence?

    Starbucks has gone from a loyalty leader to a laggard and consequently their stock price has underperformed in an ever-rising market. Management should be concerned as Ackman is right that Starbucks has underdelivered for its shareholders of late. In our work one of the things we do is track "loyalty leaders" and compare their stock price performance with both competitors and the S&P 500 as a proxy for the U.S. stock market. We used to include Starbucks as a loyalty leader but in reality they have done very little of note since MOPIS. Yes they relaunched Rewards but it is nothing more than a hyper-transactional loyalty program and does very little to impact the customer experience other than MOPIS, which launched before the new Rewards program.
  • Posted on: 10/09/2018

    Gap sends its Visa cardholders to Amazon and Target

    In the interest in presenting a contrarian viewpoint: File this under: "if you can't beat them, join them." If Gap wants customers to buy its goods it needs to embrace what its customers are doing, which clearly includes shopping at Amazon and Target. Presumably there is some reciprocity from those merchants and/or its card partner Synchrony. It's likely they identified enough data in their co-brand credit card (CBCC) file to support this move and the rewards from that credit card spend is generative for Gap. These are Gap's best customers so in addition to creating more value for them, they might entice some "almost best customers" to further commit and apply for the CBCC.
  • Posted on: 10/08/2018

    Giant Food expects big things from a new, mini-grocery store concept

    Time is the new loyalty currency and the convenience of smaller store formats like Giant's — and Amazon Go and others — have a great role to play. In our own (rDialogue) proprietary research we've found that 83% of consumers say it’s very/extremely important that a brand makes their experience more convenient. Cluttered "full-size" grocery store footprints with lengthier ingress and egress are not exactly time-saving, even though they carry significantly more SKUs. A smaller footprint neatly fills the gap and presents a great option in between bigger boxes and "endless aisle technology and pickup/delivery options".
  • Posted on: 10/08/2018

    Will the Birchbox/Walgreens pilot deliver beautiful results?

    It's interesting to consider this partnership in the context of a report by GPShopper just featured in eMarketer that found just 9 percent of customers changed their behavior after signing up for a subscription service. Notwithstanding the data point above, it's clear that this partnership will:
    1. Further erode the value of department stores in the consumer supply chain relative to smaller box footprints and other venues, both digital and physical. Consumers place a high value on time, with 83 percent of consumers saying it’s very/extremely important that a brand makes their experience more convenient. This kind of distribution does just that for Birchbox and the brands it delivers.
    2. Help Birchbox reach new prospects. Walgreens is a high traffic and high frequency retailer with a very large footprint. Especially relative to paid digital media, this partnership is going to be a successful acquisition strategy for them.
    3. Reinforce Walgreens as a merchant working to provide more value for customers and, even incrementally, improve its own customer experience. This raises the bar for Walgreens to do so and they likely know this.
  • Posted on: 10/02/2018

    Why do retailers practically ignore existing customers to go after new ones?

    Way too many retailers check the box on existing customer marketing (ECM) by launching "me too" loyalty programs and issuing private label and/or co-brand credit cards, the latter of which rely on their card issuing partners for ECM. In turn, many of those card issuers are similarly focused on acquisition in (an appropriate) effort to build their portfolio. The opportunity is the mix of marketing investment against media versus customers. For most of my nearly 30-year career this has been an "opportunity" not just for retailers but for most consumer brands. Thus, it truly is an opportunity and those that are customer-centric, like the obvious ones, Amazon and Nordstrom, are the winners.
  • Posted on: 09/14/2018

    Are ad agencies history?

    What is disrupting advertising is, and should increasingly be, customer marketing. What value is all the data if it is not associated with customers - not machine IDs or other surrogates? Data, coupled with addressable customers, presents the best alternative to paying to reach customers through intermediaries where there is limited accountability, both for reasons of ad fraud and attribution. Agencies of the future will be focused on the intersection of customers and brands that are loyal to them.
  • Posted on: 09/14/2018

    Is mobile the most disruptive force in retail since online selling began?

    Mobile technology has certainly been disruptive but it is not a new thing. What is new is the growing investment in mobile relevance, and relevance in general, as retailers increasingly recognize that the customer experience is growing in importance relative to price promotion. Price promotion is only disruptive to margins and profit growth, but the experience, driven by recognition, access, information and ease (an increasing value on customers' time), is what trumps all and is most easily and effectively enabled in mobile.
  • Posted on: 09/13/2018

    Analyst: Whole Foods’ lower price claims are mostly ‘noise’

    Whole Foods has certainly won some business, even if not "full shops," due to its acquisition by Amazon and the integration with Prime. Whole Foods has never been a price leader nor has it ever been the "full shop" destination, but rather its focus is on quality. Retail pricing is important but at a certain point, and for some customers, it's not the silver bullet merchants and marketers think it is. You can't really compare the shopping experience or the quality of Walmart with Whole Foods but it's easy to compare prices. Customer loyalty is increasingly not driven by pricing but by the experience and that, not ironically, has been catalyzed by Amazon. The better question is how Whole Foods' business has grown, on a same customer basis since the acquisition, and how that has impacted its bottom line.
  • Posted on: 09/12/2018

    Gap CEO says retailers not turning in-store data into action

    There is no question that retailers are a long way from realizing the potential of their transactional data, much less the contextual data that makes it even more valuable (and powerful) to growing their business. That said, our proprietary research reveals that retailers are making progress, as illustrated by Gap above, largely due to the pressure from Amazon to deliver a better customer experience.
  • Posted on: 09/11/2018

    Will ‘drops’ yield more fashion buzz or busts?

    Drops work when you have a strong brand, a leadership position, an addressable -- and engaged -- customer base, and of course, a hot product. Nike has built an entire line of business around this concept, but as more mass market and "me too" brands follow, the questions posed in WWD are more than legit. Unless you can do real volume, the buzz is just that, and the volume is where it's at.
  • Posted on: 09/06/2018

    ‘Cosby Show’ star’s experience shows work is different at Trader Joe’s

    One thing that Trader Joe's doesn't have to learn is to have more respect for people -- regardless of their occupation -- than that displayed by Fox News and the trash tabloid the Daily Mail. There are approximately 4.6 million people working in retail in the U.S. alone and there is and should never be any shame in someone doing honest work. Fred Reicheld in his book "The Loyalty Effect" established the link between employee and customer loyalty. Danny Meyer in "Setting the Table" espoused the same values. Thus, the lesson: having respect for your employees is an essential foundation of customer loyalty, which is essential for a business to survive and thrive over time.
  • Posted on: 09/05/2018

    Nike campaign tests ‘all publicity is good publicity’ adage

    Nike did the right thing, just as it's done for 30 years of Just Do It. Their company's unwavering mission is to "bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world" and true to its commitment to athletes*, this campaign is right on mission, and right on strategy. BTW, the "*" reflects that "if you have a body, you're an athlete." While I was not the biggest Kaapernick fan, I have nothing but respect for his stance and his commitment to social justice. Only brand leaders take such stands and props to Nike and Kaepernick (and his team, including some BA lawyers) for making this happen. Speaking with a Nike alum and client yesterday, he smartly posited, "when was the last time anyone in the category did something this memorable?" Over the last 30 years, there is only one way to answer this. Congratulations Nike and W&K on 30 years of one of the greatest campaigns in the history of the world.
  • Posted on: 08/20/2018

    Three reasons why Gen Z ignores your loyalty program

    Some wonderful comments here, and I'll echo Nikki's, Evan's and some others: the "problem" that Gen Z has with most loyalty programs are not any different than the rest of the population, aside from the fact that they have relatively little capacity for incremental spend. The problem as others have referenced, is that the majority of brands offering loyalty programs are not practicing loyalty (customer) marketing. For most, loyalty programs are nothing more than another avenue for promotion and are almost solely focused on transactions rather than delivering a better customer experience and building relationships. Related, before brands should expect loyalty from Gen Z or any other, they have to remember that once a customer buys something -- or even considers doing so and reveals him-/her-self to the brand -- it's up to the brand to demonstrate loyalty to the customer. This rarely happens. Rather, the brand says "sign up for my undifferentiated transactional promo program" and expects something magical to happen. It won't. Transactional loyalty drives neither, whether we are taking about Gen Z, Y, X, Boomers or any other generation.
  • Posted on: 08/02/2018

    Who in retailing’s c-suites should drive customer experience?

    The best and often only way to align CX and CX technology stakeholders is for the CEO to commit the enterprise to a business strategy that includes the customer as a top priority. With that kind of critical leadership commitment, there is a greater likelihood for alignment not just between CX (CMO) and CX technology stakeholders but with the entire leadership team and their respective functions. This kind of leadership also creates a role for a Chief Customer Officer (CCO), which is different but complementary to both CIO and CMOs. Barbara Thau just published a piece on this topic referencing, among others, Walmart hiring Janey Whiteside from American Express as its first CCO.

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