PROFILE

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.

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  • Posted on: 06/17/2021

    Is simpler better for rewards programs?

    Loyalty marketing is built on the premise that not all customers are the same and thus, marketing investments should be tailored according not just to the realized value of customers, but to their potential incremental value. It's rather arbitrary to argue that a simple vs a complex "program" is the right one, just as it is to say that tiers or no tiers are a better strategy, though tiering is well documented in terms of its effect on customer behavior and is a means, even a simple one, to differentiate customers, their value and the investment they merit.
  • Posted on: 06/17/2021

    Can a financially stable, digitally-enabled Neiman Marcus make a comeback?

    Can Neiman Marcus make a comeback? Absolutely, especially with a debt load that's 80 percent lower than pre-pandemic. The challenge, and opportunity, is to return to its position of luxury leadership, which includes a compelling but differentiated merchandise assortment, a strong service culture and pricing discipline. Neiman Marcus's path toward bankruptcy was obvious way before COVID-19 in a way that would have made Stanley Marcus cringe. Its new leadership seems to be focused on many of the right things and let's hope it can live up to its once legendary brand.
  • Posted on: 06/15/2021

    How will companies manage a staff of vaccinated and unvaccinated workers?

    My advice is absolutely to require vaccinations for anything other than remote work. Safety and trust are incredibly important to customers and employees, and that includes physical safety. Schools and camps require immunizations to prevent the spread of PREVENTABLE diseases. Workplaces should be the same. For those of us who are "knowledge" workers, what kind of knowledge ignores data and science? That same "knowledge" could presumably ignore other data pertinent to our business and clients, to our collective detriment.
  • Posted on: 05/20/2021

    Macy’s CEO says recent gains are real and better things are ahead

    Macy's results, and its improvements that drove those results, need to be taken into context relative not only to the rebound in the consumer and Macy's making progress on digital and customer initiatives but also the comparison period. The quarter LY was basically the abyss with stores closed, virus uncertainty and a massive consumer shift to savings. Macy's has way too many stores and way too little differentiation, leaving me skeptical about the bullish case for Macy's and in agreement with Paula Rosenblum regarding Mr. Gennette's hyperbolic comments. To quote Public Enemy: "Don't believe the hype."
  • Posted on: 05/18/2021

    Do brands currently have a rare opportunity to build trust with consumers?

    Like a lot of last year's impact, it wasn't as much about change as accelerating trends - opportunities - that were already in flight pre-COVID-19. Trust was absolutely one of them and perhaps the most critical for brands, given the growing mistrust in governments, NGOs and the like. Building trust in today's environment, and especially with younger consumers, starts with brands showing a focus on consumers but it increasingly extends through purpose and social values that resonate. Relevance has always been a factor in trust, as in loyalty, and likewise context has mattered but now things like time (trusting brands not to waste your time and ideally to save you time) and stakeholder capitalism (brands being good citizens not just for customers and shareholders but also for employees, partners, suppliers and communities) matter just as much. While the value of time is increasingly obvious, there are lots of skeptics about stakeholder capitalism, which makes it that much more of an opportunity for others (i.e., the non skeptics).
  • Posted on: 05/17/2021

    Whole Foods goes all-in on centralized buying

    Interesting Paula and I agree, especially with Macy's today (post-Federated). Back working for the original Macy's (pre- and post-LBO, way pre-Campeau and Federated), buying was regional but also done with ongoing dialogue between the stores and the buying office. It seemed to work well but that was a different Macy's -- and a long time ago (1986-7!).
  • Posted on: 05/17/2021

    Can Nike ‘Just Do It’ with a hybrid work model?

    If any company has a compelling reason to bring people back, and if any employee base has a similar reason, it's Nike. Having spent time "inside the berm" at WHQ, it's a pretty incredible campus and absolutely compelling in terms of environment. Equally or more important given the "W" in WHQ (i.e., world or global), Nike's culture and organizational structure includes and requires lots of cross functional collaboration (think categories and geographies). As we've all learned, or will learn as we get back out into the world, there is no substitute for spending time and building relationships IRL and the collaborative benefits it leads to.
  • Posted on: 05/17/2021

    Whole Foods goes all-in on centralized buying

    The real question is whether there are enough local/regional insights for a central buyer to deliver a relevant and unique assortment for each store/market. It's easy to be cynical but the ultimate question is whether shoppers see a difference for the better or worse, or if things stay consistent and the move is not apparent to the customers. Thus it comes down to both strategy and whether localization is still important in terms of the execution. If Whole Foods can pull this off, good for them. If not, it creates an opportunity for others, including regional chains. As there are more local options in terms of farm to-home delivery and farmers markets, this will be interesting to watch.
  • Posted on: 05/11/2021

    Simon CEO says Americans are experiencing ‘euphoria’ as they return to malls

    (Some) People might be euphoric about walking around in shopping malls but are they euphoric about shopping the stores? While there is record savings rates, less credit card debt than anytime since 2000 (and thus more openness to buy on the part of consumers), much of the shift to e-commerce is permanent. It's understandable that Simon is so bullish - given his business he needs to be -- but I'm more skeptical. As more things re-open, most malls are not going to be the destinations of choice for consumers with their valuable time, much less their money.
  • Posted on: 04/08/2021

    Can the luxury industry be inclusive and exclusive at the same time?

    Totally fair. I omitted the word "inclusivity" as my response was based on the challenges relative to DEI, as some aspects of diversity are clearly correlated with income inequality. Hence the paradox. It's interesting to see some clients put accessibility to luxury but making it "stackable," but that also brings into question relevance in terms of other demographic variables such as age.
  • Posted on: 04/08/2021

    Will Best Buy’s customers love its new service and savings plan?

    File this under: transactional businesses want subscription revenue and subscription businesses want transactional revenue. Membership and subscription are wildly popular as evidenced by this test and Signet's acquisition of Rockbox that was announced yesterday. I give Best Buy - and its credit card partner Citi - credit (no pun intended) for the tiered pricing. The question is the limited value proposition, especially compared to Amazon Prime and Costco membership (free tech support for all purchases included). You can see the potential in cross-selling this with big ticket/large item purchases that require delivery and/or installation. But back to the credit card integration, will customers tolerate the number of add-ons when you consider those big ticket purchases are also prime (again, no pun intended :)) moments for credit card acquisition as well? Not a game changer but this is, after all, "Beta" -- as in testing this versus rolling it out system wide.
  • Posted on: 04/07/2021

    Can the luxury industry be inclusive and exclusive at the same time?

    Income inequality is the single biggest challenge to the luxury segment. Luxury itself can only do so much to address this but one strategy is to create on-ramps to make it accessible for younger and less economically advantaged customers and prospects.
  • Posted on: 04/02/2021

    What will travel’s potential recovery mean for tourist retail?

    Leisure travel is without question going to recover before business travel, especially in the US. Between vaccinations, pent up demand, lots of money (including the job recovery) to juice the economy and today’s CDC announcement, there are literal and figurative tail winds for the first time in 13+ months. While it’s anecdotal, like Dick Sessel’s comment above, I’m traveling for the second time in two weeks. Busier airports, more expensive flights, tougher restaurant reservations and a big smile on my face walking through the airport, under a mask of course.
  • Posted on: 03/22/2021

    Will tech acquisitions enable Nike to drive personalization at scale?

    There's no question that Nike has the potential to realize enormous benefit from its data through its acquisition and other resource commitments to doing so. Given their recent quarter, there's also clearly a critical need to do so. However as an avid runner (and cyclist) who has shared running data with Nike, regularly purchased running shoes have been part of what is now called "membership" for years, and I'm still waiting on the better and more relevant member experience. Thus I'm not as bullish on the outcome as I am on Nike's possibilities. Others in the category are not only gaining ground, but in some cases they are ahead.
  • Posted on: 03/22/2021

    Will homey habits from the pandemic fuel Williams-Sonoma future growth?

    Williams-Sonoma is thriving during the pandemic and for good reasons. These good reasons are its ability to position itself to take advantage of the shift to everything-at-home and the good fortune to be in the right categories at the right time. The former will help it continue to grow but I'm not of the mindset that the unprecedented shift to everything-at-home is permanent. As people are vaccinated and things like restaurants re-open, there is enough savings and disposable income to return to dining out and spending time with people away from home. Some of the spending is going to be at the expense of further investments in home and that will ultimately slow the growth.

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