PROFILE

Rachelle King

Retail Industry Strategist and Thought Leader

NOTE: Comments and opinions are Rachelle’s own, not her employer’s.

Rachelle has 15 years of sales and marketing experience spanning the retail, agency and CPG industries. Her retail experience includes working on the legendary Beauty Team at CVS. On the agency side, she served as Retail Strategy Director at Geometry where she led retail strategy in the commerce and shopper marketing space for CPG, retail and finance clients including Coca Cola, Kroger and American Express. Her CPG experience includes sales planning, trade marketing and creating go-to-market strategies for industry leaders including Unilever, Pfizer and L’Oreal. In addition to traditional CPG, her experience includes consumer products licensing with sports and entertainment partners including Disney, DreamWorks, Major League Baseball and NFL.

As Director, North America Trade Marketing for The Topps Company, she established the first trade marketing department in the trading card industry and forged ground breaking partnerships with top retailers including Walmart and Target. She spent two years in Bentonville leading retail sales and marketing for a direct to retail (DTR) partnership between DreamWorks and Walmart. Her retail work spans food, drug, mass, specialty/beauty, hobby, convenience, dollar and ecommerce channels.

Rachelle holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing and Advertising from Purdue University and a Master’s Degree in Management Strategy (with distinction) from NYU. Originally from the Chicago area, she’s a long-time New Yorker.

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  • Posted on: 01/18/2021

    Walmart’s CEO details his journey to racial awareness

    Well said and well done by Doug McMillon. He's nailed the areas where racial inequality is felt most and most difficult to overcome. Diversity and racial equality are not easy subjects for anyone. To see him tackle it in a keynote address means that the conversations he's been having and the work he's been doing has brought about some change in his beliefs and perspective. He is right. It's hard to engage in this space, sincerely, and not be changed. I commend McMillon for his commitment to learning and for sharing his journey. What has the potential to make a difference at Walmart vs other companies with DEI programs is sincerity from the CEO. For too many many companies, DEI is a superficial checking of a politically correct box with little or no intent behind it. Most programs lack sincerity. Even if the DEI leads themselves are sincere and passionate, if the CEO is not sincerely and personally engaged then there will be little or no progress. This is one thing that truly must start at the top. And CEOs cannot hide behind their titles and fake photo-ops. Unless there is a sincere intent to learn and to understand what racial equality means, then they will never understand nor appreciate the ramifications of racial inequality. And, neither will the companies they lead.
  • Posted on: 01/14/2021

    7-Elevens could be destined to undergo a konbinification

    As consumer demand evolves retailers must evolve too. Expanding product offerings is a good way to go for 7-Eleven. If done strategically, it could serve to increase brand relevance in communities that already consider the local store their primary shopping destination. It could prove win-win for everyone; stores may see larger baskets while consumers may get more value out of a single trip. A strategic roll-out will be key to ensuring they are placing the right upgrades and expansions in the right communities. Many of the communities they serve could benefit from pharmacy and financial services as well as healthier product offerings at affordable prices. Speedway locations may do well with clothing basic. If done strategically and with focus on increasing relevance to the communities they serve then franchisees should see profitable gains too.
  • Posted on: 01/13/2021

    Will contactless Hudson Nonstop concept stores take off in airports?

    Smart move by Hudson! The one thing airport travelers can do without is time waiting in line to buy a bottle of water for their flight. Hudson Nonstop may be a game changer for airport retailing. Frequent flyers will appreciate the convenience and occasional flyers will welcome the novelty. Hudson has just showed us what's possible beyond brick and mortar for digital transformation at retail.
  • Posted on: 01/12/2021

    Do sampled freebies drive loyalty?

    The manufacturing cost of a sample-sized product is enough to make any brand manager pause and think twice about the end gain. Some categories, like Beauty, are saturated with free samples and consumers expect them. Because of the sheer volume of samples in this category, trial and impressions are strong but long lasting impact is fleeting. However, other categories, like Food, if sampled in store, could have a longer lasting impact, especially if it's in a store you visit regularly. The store visit alone will trigger the memory of the sample, even if you don't sample again. That could potentially lead to purchase. While sampling is certainly a sexy marketing tool, benefits will vary by category and ROI may be the single largest deterrent for most brands.
  • Posted on: 01/07/2021

    Will meatless burgers moo-ve in on beef’s market share as prices fall?

    Launching a brand with stated goal to undercut prices of the market leader is not a sustainable strategy. It's a price play and price wars have very few winners. Still, achieving price parity in this economy might give them the boost they need to drive trial. However, it's unlikely this is going to drive high conversion rates. Most people who eat beef do so because they like it, not because they are looking for an alternative. So, undercutting price is not going to move this consumer. For their core consumer, those truly looking for an alternative to beef, generally price is not a key driver but parity can't hurt in this economy. That leaves a relatively small niche of consumers who want an alternative but can't afford it. When all those consumers have converted, after Impossible Burger has undercut the price of beef, beef will still be the market leader.
  • Posted on: 12/28/2020

    Should retail CEOs be on social media?

    As well as this can go for some, it can be an equally challenging proposition for others. It's the same question of should doctors and lawyers have social media accounts. It's a probably so, but it's not personal. This is one place where personal lifestyle and opinions may be sacrificed for professional merit. For some companies, like Walmart for example, constructively managing the social media profile of the CEO can help bring much needed humanization to the brand and company. But, these are not personal accounts (videos of family pets, venting about politics or even sharing your latest master chef creation). The key is to define a communications objective for executive social media accounts and work closely with corporate PR to manage content strategy. These must be carefully curated accounts to stay on brand and more importantly, to stay on strategy. Otherwise, it's a fast ball into social media hall of fame where there are no real winners.
  • Posted on: 12/23/2020

    And the winner of the 2020 RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge is …

    Outstanding work by all of the creative teams! It's curious that, at the end of the day, the final list (for the most part) does not show the impact of Covid (mask) as much as it makes you feel the impact of Covid (human heart). For me, the top two are the ones that tug the heart strings, Meijer and DocMorris. Next two would be Kohl's and Woodies. All four rising to the top for insightful depiction of the human heart with a generous sprinkle of holiday inspiration. It's true what they say, people will always remember how you made them feel.
  • Posted on: 12/18/2020

    Publix decides the time is right for an experiential, two-story concept

    If Whole Foods can have 2-stories then why can't Publix? If Kroger can have a restaurant then why can't Publix have a dinning area? What else can be done with a product assortment and customer satisfaction as celebrated as Publix? Despite the novel fanfare around making shopping entertaining, Publix customers practically invented this convergence between grocery shopping and entertainment with their well know date-nights at Publix. Finally, a fancier store with a dining area will just make official what Publix customers have been doing all along. Great way to build on customer insights.
  • Posted on: 12/17/2020

    Commercials show the magic behind good deeds and Christmas surprises

    These are getting harder and harder! These were both wonderful spots. The Co-op spot definitely resonated more with giving and community. While the Doc-Morris hits home on personal wellbeing inspired by family. Neither message or spot can qualify for a loss but the hard choice for the win goes to Doc-Morris. When you finally realize what this man is doing and why, it tugs the heartstrings. This one feels more intrinsically rewarding whereas the Co-op spots has a more inspired community, do-good, feel. There is no way to be wrong here but perhaps the heartstrings just appeal slightly more than the community.
  • Posted on: 12/16/2020

    Should c-stores go healthy for the sake of kids?

    We all have to do what we can to survive this pandemic. So, yes, comfort food is on the rise. So is excessive drinking, but who is questioning the adult beverage industry? So, we have to, to the extent possible, separate changes in consumer behavior driven by the pandemic vs. without the pandemic. Consumers were trending towards a better-for-you space but right now, that may be tough for anyone to define. Notwithstanding the pandemic, the small study on how changing food options in local stores can have an impact on obesity in kids is worthy of pause. Low income parents of obese children have difficult decisions to make every day. When the cost of a bag of chips is cheaper than fresh fruit and vegetables, cash in hand is the deciding factor, not what would be best for my kids. The connection between income and obesity has long been glazed over. There is a tendency to blame these parents for making poor choices but not nearly as much effort is placed in trying to understand how hard it is to feed a family when your income does not meet your needs. Most parents realize (and see every day) the ramifications of their food choices and decisions. They want better choices too. This is where retailers come in. No, C-stores should not bail on "less better-for-you snacks." But yes, C-stores should rebalance their snack options to offer healthier choices, especially in lower income communities. Taking this a step further, they can also educate these communities on healthier options and even inspire/incentivize purchase. There is definitely room for improvement for C-stores. Like all retailers, they have a responsibility to the communities they serve, but this does not have to mean wild abandonment of their archetype and the unique experiences they bring to retail.
  • Posted on: 12/15/2020

    Lidl and Tesco keep their Christmas spots ‘merry and bright’ for 2020

    Two really catchy spots! But I have to give it to Lidl for a consistent narrative. Their story hangs a bit more tightly from end to end vs Tesco where it was just a little tough to keep track. Honestly, and oddly, I think the music was more of a distraction for Tesco even though the song was spot on. Perhaps, this spot could have done without the vocal track to the music. Lidl does better with integrating the brand more consistently into the story but these are both memorable spots.
  • Posted on: 12/14/2020

    The scalpers who stole Christmas

    One of the things I remember most from business school is the loosely regulated study of business ethics. For every "no, that's now allowed" there was an equally ambitious "unless you do this." Flippers are not held to any corporate ethics, so, honestly, the bar is low on how much profit is too much profit. You have to appreciate the rare few willing to uphold some standards, but those exceptions are shy of the norm. Buying early, encouraging curb-side pickup and explaining why might give retailers, and consumers, a modicum of defense.
  • Posted on: 12/10/2020

    Will FedEx’s ShopRunner deal give retailers a better shot against Amazon?

    FedEx is right to try to diversify their core capabilities. This seems like a long game though. These types of acquisitions can ultimately make them stronger and sharper in the end, if they stay focused on building strategic commerce capabilities that complement their expertise in logistics. The nature of ecommerce now is that every few months, there is likely to be a new contender in this space offering something relevant to a few hundred people. They key is to pay attention to either the technology/intelligence behind it or the prospect of driving a strong concept to scale. Profitably.
  • Posted on: 12/08/2020

    Supplier, stuck with $85M hand sanitizer order, sues Kroger

    Retailers refuse delivery all the time. Usually this is due to missed/late arrival for delivery appointment, resources to accept delivery or even capacity constraints, but most of these appointments are rescheduled in short order. If K7 showed up without an appointment, yes, it's likely they would have been refused. So, the larger question is: has Kroger offered them a delivery slot to accept goods? If not, then why? Sure, there may be capacity constraints with the pandemic and the holidays, but warehouses manage these constraints every day. It's rare to see this level of escalation between manufacturer and retailer; though, routine riffs in the supply chain are not uncommon. Still, a purchase order is legal document. Notwithstanding some fundamental issue with the product, Kroger may be on the hook to honor this PO.
  • Posted on: 12/07/2020

    Barnes & Noble counts on store managers running its business better

    I have a hard time believing that if a significant number of Barnes & Nobel stores become worse, not better, that this merchant would be around long enough to course correct. Daunt is playing the long game with a company that has been in successive annual decline for the better part of a decade. I worry time is not on his side. Barnes & Nobel has demonstrated resilience in a very difficult retail environment, even before Covid. It's clear that their stores still resonate with consumers. Giving store managers autonomy to play to local preferences is a good move. But this strategy needs to pay off sooner vs. later for this beloved book giant.

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