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: 07/29/2020

    How can retailers differentiate curbside delivery?

    I wouldn't consider this a differentiating factor. It is a needed part of how retailers now must do business. However the drivers of choosing one store over another are still the same -- brand preference, proximity, prices, selection, etc.
  • Posted on: 07/08/2020

    Will Walmart’s best shoppers ditch Amazon Prime for Walmart+?

    The two critical facts that most marketers miss: 1.) your best customers, the heaviest top third of buyers for many brands, buy others more than they buy you; 2.) heavy buyers are the most responsive to advertising in terms of ROAS (absolute increase in sales divided by absolute increase in ad spending). Putting these facts together, this type of program -- with heavy-up advertising weight against your best customers -- is exactly the right play for Walmart. Now is the offer exactly right? I'm not sure, but the targeting certainly is on point.
  • Posted on: 07/07/2020

    Has the pandemic changed shopping behaviors forever?

    While "permanent" is hard to assess, I think there are some long lasting/multi-year affects that can be predicted. We have accelerated online and home delivery adoption. Social distancing, masks, and one way lanes will continue for some time. Also, the retailer lineup is changing. Some iconic and many smaller retailers are going out of business and that leads to a cascading of effects in terms of malls and the ecosystem around malls (e.g. Starbucks, QSR). I also worry about vibrant main streets and towns, defined by feeling alive in the downtown village. If enough businesses go under, the main streets become ghost towns. Many smaller towns have gone through their tough times and renaissance so "permanent" is hard to assess, but these are certainly multi-year challenges.
  • Posted on: 06/26/2020

    Will a smaller Macy’s be a better Macy’s?

    Smaller? Not sure. Reinvented? Has a chance. I remember when you could barely walk around a Macy's because of all the people. In recent years, it's been more of a ghost town. I really hope they regain the excitement. If they go down, it will have a cascading effect on malls, Starbucks locations which partly live off of shopper traffic, etc.
  • Posted on: 05/28/2020

    Will Facebook Shops launch social commerce into the mainstream?

    I think this is not much competition for Amazon. Maybe more of a mashup of eBay and Etsy. With Amazon or eBay you start with a product in mind. Here you start with a small shop in mind. those are such different shopping starting points I just don't know how this will fit into the retailing ecosystem. I'm thinking it's a small idea for Facebook but a good thing for local merchants.
  • Posted on: 05/27/2020

    Are store brands set for a big growth spurt?

    I doubt that the rising share for private label can really be thought of as the result of branding or a branding moment itself. These are unusual times calling for unusual shopping measures (whatever brand of toilet paper or disinfectant you can find...) and people are more likely to retain, and act on, their pre-existing brand preferences once stores are stocked again.
  • Posted on: 02/20/2020

    Are loyalty cards key to online-to-offline attribution?

    I consult with the Mobile Marketing Association as their attribution expert and also (disclosure) have consulted for Catalina. Frequent shopper data is a "must-have" for CPG marketers to understand effectiveness of specific digital advertising tactics. In addition, it reinforces something that marketers seem to not be as aware of as they should ... targeting buyers based on prior shopping patterns can result in ad effectiveness for your addressable marketing that is up to nine times greater! This was proven in white paper research I designed, in partnership with NCS and Viant, called "The Persuadables." So frequent shopper data is not only integral to ad effectiveness measurement, it is essential to CAUSING much greater ad effectiveness.
  • Posted on: 01/20/2020

    Is Bose doing the smart thing in closing its stores?

    One of the most impactful demos I ever saw was in a Bose store. what is that memory worth? The stores do a lot more than sell products...they are experience stores that demonstrate the superiority of Bose and the better lifestyle one can live as a result of buying their products. I would view it as a marketing budget item, not a line of business. As such, I think they could have come to a different decision.
  • Posted on: 12/17/2019

    Lyft rides wave of social responsibility to fix food deserts

    It's the right thing to do, but it may not work out as planned. Don't drivers have a right to refuse to respond to a call? Unless Lyft will have a different compensation structure for these rides, it might not go smoothly. Then it becomes an issue of how much the company is investing in this corporate responsibility effort.
  • Posted on: 11/12/2019

    Amazon confirms it will open a grocery store not named Whole Foods

    Call it Amazon something. Make it a mainstream supermarket on a grand scale but add Amazon-ness -- lockers, digital enhancements, a cafe, a learning center, emphasize the link to Alexa where groceries can be pre-ordered, etc. Go big but do it the Amazon way.
  • Posted on: 11/05/2019

    Is Amazon starting to fall out of favor with American consumers?

    And I'll go one step further ... the only way to validate an "insight" is by making the implied prediction and see if it comes true. If the prediction is accurate it is a valuable and proven insight. Otherwise it is empty calories. It think we are looking as empty calories here as Amazon stock, revenues and profits are on an unabated upward trajectory. Not to mention that they are now #3 in ad revenues. And wait until they take advertising (like Hulu) inside streaming video. Oh BTW, Alexa is now being built into cars and cable TV. I mean, how can a questionable survey compare to all of these signals?
  • Posted on: 11/05/2019

    Is Amazon starting to fall out of favor with American consumers?

    Speaking as a seasoned researcher, when a survey is used to get facts that are available behaviorally, beware! Is Amazon falling out of favor? Well, last I looked it had 10 times the market share of Is the "novelty" of getting the Amazon box wearing off? Well, as of Q2 2019 e-commerce was up over 13 percent. So no, Amazon is not falling out of favor -- no way, no how.
  • Posted on: 11/01/2019

    Are Walgreens and Jenny Craig a good fit?

    Maybe it's just me and the Walgreens I go into, but Walgreens feels a lot more down market and in need of a refresh vs. CVS and Rite Aid. I'm not sure that a co-branding/partnering relationship is the refresh that Walgreens needs. Also, I don't think of Jenny as a wellness brand, but more of a weight loss brand. If so, that is specialized and less than what Walgreens might need.
  • Posted on: 10/30/2019

    Will free deliveries for Prime members make Amazon the driving force in online grocery?

    Not sure about this one since Amazon and groceries is not as tight of a branding connection for consumers as Walmart and groceries. Then there are the supermarkets. Whole Foods is too segmented in its appeal (I'm in the "wouldn't go where I don't find my favorite brands" segment). I think the right play would have been to acquire a mainstream supermarket, if grocery is the right play at all (such thin margins...)
  • Posted on: 10/29/2019

    Will six fewer holiday shopping days matter to retail performance?

    I'd be shocked if the first two weeks BEFORE Thanksgiving are not much bigger than they were last year. Especially for online purchases. People will adjust, especially if retailers accelerate their holiday marketing.

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