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: 06/23/2022

    There might soon be no one left to hire at Amazon’s warehouses

    In subscription business marketing, people often forget that churn means you eventually get a shot at regaining lost customers so the way they leave your service is a strong conquest driver (re-conquest). If Amazon realizes they need to populate their warehouses with RE-hires, it should affect how they handle the send-off of employees as they leave. They could even have a "rehire program" that sweetens the deal for people to come back.
  • Posted on: 06/08/2022

    Should retailers prepare to serve customers in ‘post-car’ suburbs?

    How is that different from, say, Tanger Outlets?
  • Posted on: 06/07/2022

    Target isn’t wasting any time in cutting the glut from its inventory

    Markdowns to clear inventory can be communicated in a positive way to consumers given the inflation we are seeing for the first time in 40 years. Given that Target have decided this, they need to get marketing aligned to the most positive message possible to consumers about supporting them in these tough times.
  • Posted on: 05/11/2022

    Do Netflix subscriber headwinds hold lessons for retailers?

    As I predicted four years ago in two blogs I wrote, Netflix will move to a dual subscription structure where a lower monthly fee will be partially ad supported. I believe this will lead to a surge in accounts, accompanied by a surge from eliminating password sharing, and an even bigger surge in profits as their first-party data would be unmatched for brand building advertising. There is no parallel to retail.
  • Posted on: 05/10/2022

    Can Starbucks replicate the ‘third place’ in the metaverse?

    This is a tough one. Starbucks has always been the leader in social spaces — Facebook followers, quantity of conversations in social media — but I felt it was rooted in a physical experience. In my neighborhood, there is a bit of a traffic jam at 7AM from people who MUST get their Starbucks on their way to work or school. Realizing that there is a metaverse and NFTs is admirable, but I think their efforts must be tethered somehow to the physical experience of Starbucks or at least to drinking their coffee you brewed at home. Can they find that narrow pathway? It's unclear, but I agree they must try.
  • Posted on: 05/09/2022

    Grocers fret over how to pass higher costs onto customers

    A different way to go -- strong private label, advertising to develop brand value perception and focus on keeping shelves stocked which is becoming a problem. With all of that, pass along the price increases and don't agonize over being the lowest priced retailer on national brands.
  • Posted on: 05/02/2022

    Victoria’s Secret expects to have a beautiful experience on Amazon

    I believe that marketers have underestimated the brand building value inside of Amazon. So not only is VS expanding distribution (a good thing) but having an Amazon storefront is a progressive way to think about brand building. Bravo.
  • Posted on: 04/18/2022

    Will Amazon’s fuel surcharge irritate its marketplace sellers?

    Yes, highly reasonable. These costs will probably get passed along to consumers. Amazon charges and higher costs to consumers for transportation costs are just the economic reality.
  • Posted on: 04/15/2022

    Will Amazon have to ground its drone program?

    A little creepy given that drones can be used for surveillance and a little scary in that drones can be used for military and terrorist payload delivery. Not now, the world is too freaked out.
  • Posted on: 04/14/2022

    Are tattoos no longer taboo on retail selling floors?

    Unless the tattoo has something objectionable about it (husband of best friend of my daughter has f*%k tattooed on his fingers -- not cool), I'd say it's well accepted in society. Even Mike Tyson-style face tattoos are OK. Imagine if I needed tech support at a Staples and the person had a face tattoo but knew exactly what my problem was and how to fix it. I'd be delighted not offended.
  • Posted on: 04/13/2022

    Will retailers be ready when the third-party cookies crumble?

    First and foremost, marketers need to up their game regarding their targeting science. The most important targeting variables are whether or not a consumer is active, i.e. intending to make a purchase, and if they are interested in your product at all (What my white paper calls the "Movable Middle".) Targeting non-buyers for conquest is actually a really bad idea. If you target based on intention to purchase and Movable Middle, that segment can deliver 10-20 TIMES the ad response. In reality, you target audiences but if the audience has a high density of this segment, it can deliver 50-100 percent higher ROAS (return on ad spending). These statements are based on hard data. There will always be a way to find audiences that are rich in this target segment with digitally or via profiling of traditional media (even retailer shoppers are audiences that are differentiated on this, (e.g. Publix vs. Winn-Dixie have different "best matches".) What I advise clients against is succumbing to the hysteria and starting to use context-based placement as their media "targeting" strategy. Context provides some lift but nothing compared to targeting. Context is an amuse-bouche compared to the main course. ID backbones still exist beyond first party data and can be used for "first party like" targeting. Mixed together with intelligent targeting of what I call brand intenders from first-party data, you will significantly outperform competitors who spit the bit on targeting.
  • Posted on: 04/12/2022

    Does Amazon have an edge in capturing America’s youth?

    I vote for Amazon to stay dominant. I just don't see any disruptors to their leadership.
  • Posted on: 04/11/2022

    Should retail fear or embrace organized labor’s comeback?

    I assume workers will now have to pay union dues and that they will beget corruption as they always do. We'll see how this works out. Maybe I'm colored by my father's experience. His union went out on strike for 9 months. He had no other source of income. When the strike ended, he had no job to go back to because they put the company on the brink of going out of business. He never forgot nor forgave.
  • Posted on: 03/17/2022

    What inflation-era consumer behavior should we expect next?

    When faced with higher prices but fixed incomes (in the short term), typically many consumers adjust their consumption patterns and brand choices to maintain some balance in their monthly expenses and incomes. I would expect to see increases in private label shares and substitute main meal choices. Less red meat, more pancakes (pancake mixes and syrups are actually inferior goods in economics parlance), and less eating out.
  • Posted on: 03/15/2022

    Will customers grow to love Walgreens’ digital cooler doors?

    I like it! It will freshen the look of a Walgreens and make them appear more upscale and savvy. It reminds me of South Korea's digital grocery shopping where you can shop while waiting for the train and your groceries are delivered by the time you get home.

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