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: 06/05/2020

    The face mask rule is now simply a suggestion at some H-E-B stores

    It's a bit disappointing to see H-E-B relaxing its policies but they, along with others, are under tremendous pressure to go back to "normalcy." Ultimately, consumers will decide whether to continue shopping with retailers based on whether they feel safe shopping there, and whether new cases increase. Data should be the key but it seems we live in a world where data matter less than ever. I'd again point to Apple as the most aggressive (requiring masks and temperature checks) when it comes not how it's intending to look after customer and employees. Not to mention its retail performance. There is a significant percentage of the country who won't wear a mask for a range of reasons, whether they are immune (?) or ignorant (and trying to make a political statement). The health benefits are beyond obvious if you look at other countries and what certain states and municipalities have done to reduce the spread.
  • Posted on: 06/01/2020

    Retail ensnared in nationwide protests

    In good times and in bad, leaders lead. As consumer trust in government wanes relative to business, and while both are relatively low, it's noteworthy that so many brands have stepped up. It's also noteworthy to see which ones have failed to do so. Research shows that consumers expect brands to not only focus on customers but also on employees and communities. This is not a new thing and, while many point with cynicism to the Business Roundtable's restating of purpose that businesses should look beyond just maximizing shareholder value, we are seeing that this principle is going to happen regardless. My personal favorite was Adidas reposting Nike's post on the topic, underscoring that "we" are indeed in this together and need to be collectively rather than individually responsible.
  • Posted on: 06/01/2020

    Is the REI/West Elm collaboration a win-win?

    These are two authentic brands with excellent leadership and I loved it as soon as I received the announcement email. Knowing the companies, they clearly saw the complement in terms of West Elm customers and REI members. With the renewed focus on both the home and being outside, and the execution in terms of product line, this will be a win-win. We expect to see strategic partnerships continue to rise in importance as things recover and this is but one example of many more to come.
  • Posted on: 05/29/2020

    Is purposeful giving an answer to retail’s inventory glut?

    One of the impacts of the pandemic is that consumers have a stronger filter on how brands are acting during these times and what matters. Rising in importance, according to our research at Bond and that of others, are factors that include how brands act towards partners, suppliers and, importantly, communities. Purposeful giving correlates directly with what consumers increasingly expect as they are more aggressively shutting out "bad actors" and trying new brands.
  • Posted on: 05/26/2020

    Should Apple and other stores require shopper temperature checks?

    Apple is again proving its focus on customers and employees in a manner head and shoulders above most other retailers. Safety and security are new loyalty currencies and our recent research shows that they are significantly more important given COVID-19, ranking just being pricing. While it's all imperfect, along with our knowledge of the virus, while temperature taking is fallible it remains at least a symbolic gesture by the store that the safety and security of customers (and employees) is most important. Recent data show 89% of consumers are concerned about that relative to going back in to stores.
  • Posted on: 05/22/2020

    New marketing analytics for a new COVID-19 reality

    So much has changed and from our (customer marketing) perspective that starts with customer insights. Customers have switched brands, defected and gone inactive in staggering numbers since the start of the pandemic. Given that 35% of consumers have tried new brands, it seems one place to start is by profiling new customers and understanding how they compare to existing ones. These shifts also underscore (no pun intended) existing definitions of HVCs (high value customers) so re-evaluating customer values now might have real implications for loyalty strategies and prioritizing customers. Whatever the new or next normal is, these rapid shifts in customer composition point directly to the value of updating customer marketing analytics.
  • Posted on: 05/20/2020

    Will face masks be a lifeline for apparel retail?

    Masks are likely around so it's a good item to inventory if you're a retailer. It's especially important if you're a retailer and want customers to wear masks in your store and beyond and better, be advocates for your brand or look in other places. It's worth nothing that Brooks Brothers was among the first merchants to repurpose a domestic factory to produce masks when there was a critical shortage earlier in the crisis. Helping people stay safe and being opportunistic may not be the lifeline that so many brands and retailers need, but it's a smart move.
  • Posted on: 05/20/2020

    IKEA’s play fort ads illustrate what’s good about times like these

    IKEA and these other brands have been smart to deliver messages that are on-brand (i.e., authentic), contextually relevant (no one needs a reminder of the situation we're in, better to proffer solutions) and focused on the customer. As obvious as this is, the dreadful sea of sameness that we are seeing and hearing from so many "brands" makes this work stand out.
  • Posted on: 05/19/2020

    Is Amazon about to buy J.C. Penney?

    Given that J.C. Penney was slowly dying pre-COVID-19, this is likely the best outcome for its emergence for bankruptcy other than liquidation. For Amazon, just consider one of the other RetailWire discussions today that posits whether Walmart is now unstoppable. Amazon, if it does buy J.C. Penney, will be good for Amazon and at a sharp discount to any other combination, including Kohl's. Kohl's hasn't benefited from its Amazon relationship and yet it has a much more viable business than J.C. Penney.
  • Posted on: 05/18/2020

    The new normal will look a lot like the old normal

    While I prefer "next normal" rather than "new normal," I do think that some of the shifts we are seeing will stick. Given that 89% of consumers are "concerned about shopping in physical stores" according to Harris research (field 4/28-30), the next or new normal will or at least should acknowledge and show commitment to customers' and employees' safety and security. While that doesn't mean that the seismic shift we are seeing will stick -- it won't -- there are segments that will and also new entrants that will continue to thrive, one example being a local restaurant purveyor that added direct-to-home delivery of meats, poultry, seafood, etc. Regardless, we unfortunately have a while to go before there is a vaccine and the longer some of these new habits continue, the more likely they will stick for some. Inertia is a powerful loyalty strategy.
  • Posted on: 05/04/2020

    Should face masks be mandatory for shoppers?

    Living in Atlanta, we are on the front line of businesses reopening and I had an interesting experience this weekend which I'll post about separately. Bottom line: I went to a big box retailer where a number of shoppers and associates were not wearing masks and I found it completely unacceptable. There was no signage other than a request for social distancing at the returns counter. All the research clearly shows that consumers are reluctant to return to stores, evidenced by Harris reporting that 89 percent have "concerns about shopping" in-store. While it's up to each store to establish its own guidelines, those that fail to demonstrate a recognition of consumers' concerns about safety and security will not get the traffic that Costco and others will. Safety and security are the new loyalty currencies.
  • Posted on: 04/24/2020

    Walmart teams with social hub Nextdoor to get neighborly during tough times

    It's fascinating to watch Walmart's evolution from its "nothing but everything at low prices" to being a business and brand finding its soul. For the cynical, it likely appears they are attempting to do so, but they are clearly far ahead of Amazon in this area and starting to encroach on, if not surpass, Target. Nextdoor is likewise fascinating, as it has continued to emerge as filling the void left by the disruption and destruction of local media, namely newspapers. Bottom line is that this will undoubtedly help Walmart continue to be an increasingly likable, trustworthy and essential brand.
  • Posted on: 04/20/2020

    DTC brand sales soar in a time of social distancing

    For at least the time being there is little option and great opportunity for DTC brands in CPG. However given the surge in grocery and the potential for renewals of the pandemic, these opportunities are not mutually exclusive with indirect distribution. More to the point, there are a lot of new entrants in "grocery" from full-service restaurants to fast casual, including both chains and independents. I agree with Bob that it's impossible to know which trends will persist, expand or decline, brands need to be more creative in how they go to market and grocery chains need to do the same with their sourcing. Darwin wasn't a retailer or a marketer but his principles do fully apply.
  • Posted on: 04/17/2020

    Some customers play bait and zero tip tricks on Instacart shoppers

    Imagine if Instacart or any other brand valued customers not just on their spend, but on their behavior towards employees and their tips. It would create alignment between customers, the brand and the brand's employees. The trifecta of loyalty.
  • Posted on: 04/16/2020

    What will be retail’s new normal if social distancing stays in place until 2022?

    Michael is right in that returning to BAU is not going to happen anytime soon. There are three places leaders need to look for guidance on moving towards the "next" normal. First is obviously state and local governments in order to be "legal." Second is employees, as if they do not feel safe neither will customers. Last, but not least(!) is customers. Two out of three will not work.

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