Rob Gallo

Chief Marketing Officer, Impact 21

Though Rob Gallo’s title is Chief Marketing Officer, his role goes above and beyond marketing. He has a knack for connecting the dots and finding better paths to reaching goals. And he has more than 20 years’ experience in doing just that as a trusted strategist driving real business results for the world’s biggest brands. At Impact 21, Rob guides the overall marketing strategy for the firm, working closely with clients including retailers, consumer goods companies and technology providers.

Rob leads a wide range of strategy, business outlook and performance improvement engagements, tapping into his significant experience with primary consumer research studies. He helps suppliers and retailers identify viable growth opportunities and provides diagnostic analysis. Rob has been heavily involved in assortment strategies, competitive and landscape assessments, market entry strategies and “Store of the Future” studies. Rob is frequently asked to share his knowledge in trade publications or as a guest presenter/speaker for organizations like NACS.

Rob’s expertise stems from his first days as a bagger for Big Bear grocery store. Rob’s experience has gone well beyond his bagging days and now encompasses multiple fast-moving consumer goods channels including grocery, supercenters and warehouse clubs. He also gained extensive experience with specialty apparel and department stores. He has worked with suppliers servicing most retail channels in the areas of growth strategy, market entry, category management and shopper insights. Currently, Rob holds advisory board positions with CBUS Retail and Med-Compliance IQ. Prior to Impact 21, he held senior positions at Chute Gerdeman, Kantar Retail, Retail Forward and the Management Horizons Division of Price Waterhouse.

Born in Philadelphia but raised in Ohio, Rob attended The Ohio State University where he earned his bachelor’s degree in marketing. He applies his know-how to the natural soap company, Elemental Blue, owned and operated in partnership with his wife. Rob is still able to find time to play and enjoys bicycling, fitness, fishing, the outdoors, traveling, and spending time with his family. He makes it a priority to support multiple charities that have affected his friends and family.

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  • Posted on: 04/19/2019

    Will a healthier Wawa be a more successful Wawa?

    Better compete? The question almost implies that Wawa is struggling versus its competition. These moves are coming from a position of strength. Wawa continues to push the needle of reinvention and put pressure on other retailers via new categories, formats and experiences. All of these moves are smart including the physical expansion. The key here is to balance the current core c-store shopper, often termed “Bubba,” while meeting the needs of the smaller base of future core customers. Patience is required. Some c-stores got into “better for you” categories years ago and didn’t have the strategy or patience to see it through. Now they are revisiting these categories. Wawa is testing, learning and pushing. Great move.
  • Posted on: 04/18/2019

    Will former exec’s Godiva café plans spell trouble for Starbucks?

    Can Godiva take share away from Starbucks in the areas where they overlap? Sure. But will Godiva put a meaningful dent in Starbucks’ business? No. 300-350 stores per year seems like a reach for a company that only has 800 now, the bulk of which aren’t the cafe concept. I’d like to see a more rigorous pilot before the aggressive rollout.
  • Posted on: 04/17/2019

    Apple owns the checkout at Decathlon’s sporting goods store

    Versions of this have been around for a while. At Nordstrom Rack, it works fairly well and often helps with queue management. If you get a helpful associate I've even seen some additional unit sales. At the Nike House of Innovation the concept doesn't work very well (at least yet). The staff is able to direct you to a Nike Instant Checkout station, but the solution is tied to the online product catalog. If the products you are buying aren't also sold online (a decent probability in that store), the checkout process falls apart, the associate is left breaking the bad news and the customer is left frustrated.
  • Posted on: 04/15/2019

    Can Walmart beat Amazon, Facebook and Google at the online ad game?

    It only makes sense for Walmart to monetize their data. Retailers have been doing this for a long time just in other ways. They used to give away their shopper card data in exchange for rudimentary analytics. Now retailers charge big money for it and have much higher expectations for reporting and insights. The trend may continue to other retailers, but few have the size and scale to generate significant profits or interest from brands. With Google, Facebook, Amazon, Walmart, Target, Kroger, Albertsons, and Ahold Delhaize all in the mix, it becomes a bigger job for brands to manage their budgets and allocate appropriately.
  • Posted on: 04/15/2019

    Is Bed Bath & Beyond smart to draw the line on coupons?

    I applaud this move by Bed Bath & Beyond. It appears that they now have the pricing tools, analytics and visibility that can drive better decision-making. At the very least they’ll be able to identify the cherry-pickers and adjust the couponing strategy with that segment. For some customers, the coupon IS the brand for Bed Bath & Beyond. Time will tell how large that customer base is. I also like that they are focusing on personalized messaging, in-store innovation and building on the baby business with Babies “R” Us now out of the way.
  • Posted on: 04/12/2019

    Why consumers are breaking bonds with their favorite brands

    One of the biggest drivers of this trend is that the barriers to entry are much lower than when Walmart, Macy’s, Procter & Gamble, etc. were growing significant market share. We’ve talked about consumers having much more information and can easily explore what’s new and different. At the same time, entrepreneurs that see whitespace have easier access to what they need to get a company up and running. It’s still not easy, but it is much easier than it used to be.
  • Posted on: 04/08/2019

    Should uniform pricing be the norm for large chains?

    To add to my comments above. We’ve implemented price optimization tools along with the org structure and change management plan. The ROI is definitely there. Consumer backlash is minimal as long as the pricing strategies make sense and do not insult. Having tools that can manage all of the business rules (think alcohol and tobacco pricing/taxes) can be a huge win by itself.
  • Posted on: 04/08/2019

    Should uniform pricing be the norm for large chains?

    It really depends on the category, the competition and whether your organization has the ability to support a localized or situation-based pricing strategy. Even though we have the tools and the data to drive localized pricing, many retailers (depending on the channel) don't have the organizational structure to execute. Convenience stores would never price fuel nationally, but have long considered localized pricing for merchandise to not be worth the effort.
  • Posted on: 04/05/2019

    Will Walmart’s new registry make parents forget Babies ‘R’ Us?

    This is a smart move as there is obviously market share available. The advantage over Amazon would be that new moms would want to see, touch, and try merchandise before adding it to the registry or making the registry live.
  • Posted on: 04/04/2019

    Will rebranding deliver the results that Staples needs?

    Staples is best at delivering commodity items that are unexciting to buy. The categories they are trying to further penetrate are already handled better by other retailers. Visit just about any store adjacent to a Staples and then go into Staples. It's beyond depressing. The stores are generally empty other than back-to-school season. This is going to be a long journey for Staples and I doubt it goes well.
  • Posted on: 04/03/2019

    Can subscription retail solve its retention problem?

    Depending on the category and the cost, mitigating high churn rates can be very difficult. A one-size-fits-all subscription model will result in a niche business with a small, but loyal customer base. Increasing flexibility will increase the appeal and the customer base, but for categories like food and apparel the cost can be high and the excitement also wears off after a while. For food, the time commitment to make a Hello Fresh meal becomes one of numerous negatives. For apparel, the size, fit and sheer number of items you can accumulate becomes an issue. Add in the realization of what they are paying on an annual basis and they suspend delivery.
  • Posted on: 04/01/2019

    Harris Teeter tests self-checkout store

    Self-checkout has gotten much better but it can still be slow for those that are actually good at self-scanning or when there are more than a couple of produce items in the basket. The checkout experience gets really poor when you only have a few items and are forced to wait in line in for either a staffed checkout OR self-checkout. Having more self-checkout stations can make sense in a store with smaller basket sizes. I would worry that this store is actually capturing (or could capture) a decent amount of larger baskets (15+ items) that will avoid this store due to a real or perceived poor checkout experience. Losing even 10 percent of these larger baskets could change the store's profit potential.
  • Posted on: 03/22/2019

    Are people investments paying off for retailers?

    The key is to invest both in people and in the right technology. The retailers that are doing that are the ones that are setting themselves up for success. Cutting store staff to the bone (or waiting for robots to replace them) is a failed strategy. Some retailers have recognized that their people are the critical link between the customer and the digital experience and are making that the focus of their digital transformation efforts.
  • Posted on: 03/19/2019

    Anthropologie hopes to earn an A+ with new plus-size clothing options

    I think more retailers ARE trying to serve the plus-size customer, but it isn’t easy which is why you don’t see clear leaders emerging. I’ve done extensive customer and competitive research in the space. The challenges are significant and not anywhere near the same as the petites business. I get that people may be underwhelmed by APlus being in only 10 stores out of 225, but best practices for new initiatives would be to test & learn not assume you nailed the concept and go straight to a chain-wide rollout. I will be watching closely to see what Anthropologie learns and the changes they make.
  • Posted on: 03/11/2019

    7-Eleven to take a page from Starbucks with a café concept

    C-stores get very little attention in retail. They have been steadily taking strides to move into other categories given the long-term declines in fuel and tobacco. They have been making major upgrades to the quality of the food and beverage offer as well as the store experience. Wawa, Sheetz, GetGo, 7-Eleven (Laredo Taco) and Casey's all have food offers that are approaching/rivaling fast casual. Look for this to spread to other c-stores and continue overall. This "blurring of the lines" is all around. Look at Dollar General's evolution. Fresh produce? Sushi at Walgreens? Progressive retailers will continue to ask their customers for permission to evolve their brands. Not everything will work, but some things will and the things that do will drive the new definitions of these retailers.

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