PROFILE

Ralph Jacobson

Global Retail & CPG Sales Strategist, IBM

Ralph Jacobson is the Global Consumer Products Industry Marketing Executive for IBM. He is responsible for marketing IBM Consumer Products Industry Solutions to clients in areas including business strategy, operations and the consumer experience.

Ralph has worked in the CP and retail industries for more than thirty years. For more than a decade, Ralph has consulted to more than one-hundred clients around the globe, from Shanghai to Saudi Arabia.

Originally Ralph began his professional career at the largest supermarket company in Chicago, where he worked in store operations and marketing for seventeen years. He is married with two sons and resides north of Los Angeles, California.

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Building a Smarter Planet Blog

Only 40+ years in the Retail & CPG Industries. Let's talk about your business challenges sometime soon! Maybe I've seen them before somewhere in the world, like Shanghai, Saudi Arabia or Bangalore!
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  • Posted on: 08/15/2019

    New site wants to make independent grocery jobs into careers

    There needs to be more work spent on the career benefits of a lifetime in retail. I know that's easier said than done, however, industry leaders like the NGA need to work on this task and start campaigns reaching into high schools and creating awareness of the career potential.
  • Posted on: 08/15/2019

    Is it time for retailers to tier up their loyalty/reward programs?

    How long will we need to keep talking about this?! The vast majority of "loyalty" programs are still nothing more than frequent shopper incentives, offering mass, untargeted discounts to whomever shops there. By all means there needs to be more prominent incentives for the top tier customer audience that offer significant benefits to those who are truly loyal to the brand, versus the masses.
  • Posted on: 08/13/2019

    Grocers develop their own tech responses to Amazon Go

    I visited a Vancouver, B.C. store way back in the late 1990s that aimed to have no human interaction throughout the shopping experience. They pulled it off very well for the technology available at that time. Retailers do need to ensure that the shopper sees a benefit, and not just the retailers. Good old-fashioned self checkout can be extremely frustrating for shoppers if the technology doesn't cooperate.
  • Posted on: 08/13/2019

    Have emojis become digital’s ice breaker for consumers?

    We have gotten SO weird and regressed back to childhood. I'm with Gene Detroyer. But hey, if it works, keep doing it!
  • Posted on: 08/08/2019

    Will the next big thing since Starbucks be run by robots?

    At the risk of oversimplifying, how truly different is this from the original coffee vending machine? I think we need to look at all traditional retailing outlets and take advantage of robotics, AI and every other emerging technology available to really innovate. P.S., how long have robots been around? It's good to see we're finally getting serious.
  • Posted on: 08/08/2019

    Has the starting point of customer journeys moved?

    I love the way you think, Nikki! You always have among the most relevant topics to discuss. This discussion is really around the intersection of how the shopper (before they become the "consumer") approaches the "discover" phase of their shopping journey, and the myriad channels in which they live their lives. Their objectives have evolved as their lifestyles have, however retailers and brands have not kept up with how they think. Taking a closer look at their thought process of today should start with the defining of the persona who make up your target audience. e.g., who they are, what they do, how they work, etc.
  • Posted on: 08/06/2019

    What are the signs of a dying retail business?

    This is a great list of warning signs, however, if you dive deeper into the KPIs, e.g., transactions per month, average transaction size and other inventory management metrics by product category, you will see that these very basic measures can show how your customers are feeling about your offerings.
  • Posted on: 08/02/2019

    Gen Z gets creative online

    Younger people, in general are truly driving marketing across industries -- in case you haven't noticed. Online creative is far more visually powerful than offline imagery, and Gen Zs are masters at digital marketing (from birth) whether they're actually employed in the trade or just doing it for personal entertainment. I believe marketing will continue to be driven by the young as technology evolves even further.
  • Posted on: 08/01/2019

    Has dynamic pricing hit a rut?

    Good point, Verlin!
  • Posted on: 08/01/2019

    Has dynamic pricing hit a rut?

    The global perennial hesitation to implement the available technologies to automate more aspects of dynamic pricing shows that the ROI has yet to be definitively communicated to retailer leadership.
  • Posted on: 08/01/2019

    CPG companies spending more to use less packaging

    For many categories, product packaging has cost more than the product inside for decades. In the real world of the consumer, sustainability is nice, however "convenience is king." The most blatant example I've seen is the battery-powered spray bottles for numerous products that you simply throw away when empty, even though the batteries are still functional. As long as consumers demand convenience, packaging costs will continue to outpace product costs.
  • Posted on: 07/31/2019

    Who will seize the opportunity to turn stores into fulfillment centers?

    The more innovative retailers have been agile in the evolution of their distribution network strategy for several years now. These retailers have migrated the available space in strategic store locations to leverage online transaction product movement and other functions. This is now becoming more mainstream and those retailers that do not adapt to this evolutionary challenge will not thrive in the very near future.
  • Posted on: 07/30/2019

    Can deepfake technology reduce retail returns without rattling reality?

    Most any emerging technology has the potential to be misused. Brand managers must be agile enough to pivot when, not if, this tech makes headlines to the detriment of a brand that abused it.
  • Posted on: 07/30/2019

    How do brands maintain their cool?

    "Resonance" is a key characteristic that brands need to include in their metrics. If there is weak resonance with the audience, all these other factors are irrelevant.
  • Posted on: 07/29/2019

    Is private equity ownership killing retail?

    It's too easy to lay blame on the PE firms, however several comments herein do articulate the fact that not all PE is to blame, and those retailers that went out of business had far more problems than just an LBO.

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