PROFILE

Rachelle King

Retail Industry Strategist and Thought Leader

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: 07/14/2020

    Will battery power energize retailing performance?

    Retailers will continue to push the boundaries between traditional brick/mortar and the technology-powered brick/mortar. It's been happening for years, but in pockets and with little scale. The new normal of connected everything coexisting with socially distant salad bars is going to push retailers to re-evaluate smart technology investments. Electronic shelf labels (ESL) hold the potential for both sustainability benefits and communications efficiencies and, may be a good place for curious retailers to start. It's no surprise that industry giants like Kroger and Walmart have already been exploring this space with pilots and in-store tests. While costs and infrastructure certainly require lofty considerations, so do the long-term benefits.
  • Posted on: 07/13/2020

    Will Boomers and Gen X keep shopping online post-pandemic?

    We are scarcely six months into a pandemic that doesn't have an end date. Not only is is difficult to project consumer behavior post-COVID-19, it's difficult to project consumer behavior by year end. What we can lean into is the fact that the longer you do something, the more likely it is to becomes a habit. To that end, it's likely older consumers would still be open to buying online post-COVID-19. However when it's truly safe to get to the stores and smell a fresh peach, squeeze a tomato or rummage over identical-looking potatoes until you find just the right one for you -- this basic desire to touch/feel/see/smell may entice shoppers back to stores, if only for a little while. It's not likely that 100 percent of old shopping behaviors will return, it's just too convenient to have groceries delivered to your door. Rather what may drive shoppers back to stores is not a fatigue over convenience but the basic human desire for sensory experience. Something even online convenience can't rival.
  • Posted on: 07/10/2020

    Is consumer arrogance driving word-of-mouth recommendations?

    This is a slippery slope to hitch your marketing bandwagon. Yes consumer arrogance can (and likely will) have an impact on many brands - either positive or negative. The challenge is, their reaction is often based on a single moment in time along the purchase journey that brands really have no control over (as much as we like to believe we can control every second of every experience along journey, we can't). Even more, research suggests the driver behind some posts may have less to do with the brand and more to do with self-esteem and the need to drive likes or engagement on social media. Another space brands can't control. Marketers should be cautious about leveraging consumer arrogance in any meaningful way. Definitely watch it but know that it can backfire as fast as it can ignite word-of-mouth. This has to be balanced with more constructive methods of driving WOM that brands can influence.
  • Posted on: 07/09/2020

    Dunkin’ retreats from gas stations

    Slam dunk. If Dunkin' wants to stay competitive with Starbucks, they need to stay focused -- and on brand. This is a smart move. Implanting their new format stores with expanded menu and more tech-savvy conveniences should more than make up for lost revenue at Speedway. In this pandemic-era, Dunkin' should be cautious about consumer-facing communication -- they want to bring these consumers along -- not leave them behind or, stir feelings of losing one more thing during this pandemic. Uplifting and encouraging messages about what's to come in the new format stores may help ease consumer transition.
  • Posted on: 07/08/2020

    What white people need to know

    The protests for racial justice are a cry for help and a cry for change from people (and their allies) who have grown weary of feeling like their lives are disposable. If corporations think for one moment that this sentiment is felt by "other people" (e.g. protesters) and not their employees, they are wrong. First, regardless of past/current efforts on diversity and inclusion, corporations should assume, some, if not all, of their black employees share the fears and concerns that they hear and see in the protests. They should assume that solidarity cannot be properly demonstrated by a finely crafted PR statement. They should assume that some white employees may be confused on how to respond or show support, or even fear backlash for their own personal views. All of these tensions diminish productivity in the workplace and in teams, especially, multi-cultural teams. Corporations should seek to have open, honest and ongoing dialog with employees--all of them. They should require that workplace cultural values be demonstrated from top down, not just plastered on the walls after a one-off speech. They should strive to build a culture of trust and safety for all employees; and yes, a culture that is also diverse and inclusive. They should re-evaluate hiring and advancement practices for bias (and yes, there is bias). Before trying to show outward solidarity, corporations should demonstrate internal solidarity, support and commitment to ensuring their workplace actually reflects their cultural values, from the board of directors to the stock rooms. Most companies have a ways to go.
  • Posted on: 07/07/2020

    Macy’s plans for the Christmas rush

    Macy's is right to plan strategically for the upcoming holiday season. However, before we get to Black Friday and Christmas shopping, we need to first see unemployment rates progressively improve. Otherwise, consumer turn out this upcoming holiday season may not be as strong as past years. Even as economies start to open up, holiday spending may still be impacted by ongoing fears and uncertainty. One strategy retailers can take, in addition to leveraging online sales and curbside pickup, is to ensure that this year's holiday assortment is relevant (see trends in home activities, bikes, cooking, etc) and more affordable for consumers who want to enjoy the season, but may not be able to spend like they used to.
  • Posted on: 07/06/2020

    Walmart debuts virtual summer camp and drive-in movie programs

    This is quintessential Walmart; holding true to core values around families and making their lives easier. Excellent alignment with core values. Walmart has taken a leadership position on thinking outside the box, literally, to leverage their reach and scale to help families during this pandemic. You have to applaud this effort and hope to see more retailers follow suit within their own footprint and ecosystems. As stay-cations and social distancing have slowly become more of a reality than buzz words, both retailers and brands have opportunities to meet consumers in this new space. Food/grocery and home activities have become staples but pushing into at-home experience like Walmart's virtual summer camp is an abundant space that is rich with opportunity for homebound consumers.
  • Posted on: 07/02/2020

    Amazon’s traffic is way up, but others are doing even better during the pandemic

    Amazon has just about everything but most consumers don't think of them for grocery shopping (even though, yes, they have this too). While so many are still staying home, a top priority has been food and provisions. If you normally shopped Walmart or Kroger in-store for groceries then you are more likely to try to figure out their online solutions first, before Amazon's. There is something to be said for keeping what little continuity you can in times of uncertainty. It's not as much that Amazon is losing traffic to competitors but that consumers who normally shopped Amazon's competitors are just trying to figure out out how to shop those same retailers differently now and likely finding a surprisingly satisfying experience.
  • Posted on: 07/02/2020

    Do Americans want retailers to keep their social distance after COVID-19 is gone?

    During these times of fear and uncertainty, consumers are looking for retailers they can trust to provide essential needs and to keep them and their families safe. Retailers who can and have delivered on this during the pandemic stand to gain loyal customers post-pandemic. Despite engagement shifting from face-to-face to contactless, consumers are now more attuned than ever to which retailers to trust during this time. Today, consumers are proving that relationships are not just about face-to-face communications but that it's more valuable to deliver on what matters most to consumers, when they need it most, in ways that are safe, reliable and convenient for them. Undoubtedly the pandemic has accelerated emerging services like home delivery and contactless payments. Many retailers were still working out the kinks in these services before the pandemic. While it's more of a necessity now, it will be a valued convenience later that retailers need to be prepared to deliver on. Exceedingly.
  • Posted on: 07/01/2020

    How can grocers hold onto their new most valuable customers?

    Many retailers have long been aware of the omnichannel shopper but marketing and engagement strategies are still catching up to this most valuable segment. There is still too much segmentation between the online and in-store shopper; too much consideration to a linear purchaser journey (which doesn't exist anymore). What retailers are trying to balance is, while there is undeniable growth in both online and omnichannel shopping, the vast majority of revenue is still generated from the box. The arc of general retail practice is slow to bend, especially in traditional grocery. They must stay engaged with the omnichannel shopper, meeting them when/where they need on increasingly personalized journeys but at the same time, protect the box; this is likely not as easy as it sounds.
  • Posted on: 07/01/2020

    Anti-mask shoppers find themselves publicly shamed

    How many times has the "no shirt, no shoes, no service" policy been challenged by customers? Due to medical reasons? Retailers have the right to set policies for shopping in their stores. In most cases, they can also refuse service to shoppers who are in violation of their rules and policies. This is a time where retailers should absolutely hold their ground. Retailers owe it to their customers to provide a safe shopping environment, with fair prices, quality products and decent service. Nothing more. Still, many retailers are going above and beyond by providing an alternative for those who refuse to wear a mask like offering to shop for them (also, online shopping is a new invention that has worked for millions). Suggesting that store employees can't shop for them because there are "private" things they want to buy is a farce. Store managers know and stock every item in the store. And let's be honest, nothing is private at checkout. Bottom line is, the vast majority of customers who refuse to wear a mask in retail stores, during a global pandemic, where social distancing is difficult (if not simply impossible), don't have medical conditions. Customers who are immune compromised take precautions seriously. Customers who argue and throw temper tantrums do not take their health and safety seriously, or anybody else's.
  • Posted on: 06/30/2020

    Will Nike’s digital drive build stronger ‘one-to-one’ relationships with consumers?

    Most consumers are omnichannel shoppers, so having an offline and online engagement strategy is smart. What is going to make a significant difference for Nike is their decision to make their app free while millions are stuck at home. This is an incredibly smart tactic to drive engagement and build loyalty. What brands need to remember -- as Nike is demonstrating -- is that playing the long game during this pandemic has great potential to create emotional bonds with consumers. Emotional bonds drive engagement and build brand loyalty. Smart.
  • Posted on: 06/30/2020

    Can robots keep the salad bar safe?

    Robotics and automation are the future. Retailers can either embrace it now or wait until they lose competitive advantage, point-of-difference, relevancy and cost efficiencies. The pandemic has forced the acceleration of a more digital world, home, office, and yes, retail environment -- whether we like it or not. Not all retailers are leaders though. Some (many) will try to modify existing practices to meet new minimum safety standards in food prep. Those that want to re-engage shoppers in a new and different way, with the reality that the world will be different post-Covid, will invest in new experiences that keep revenue -- and the salad bar -- flowing, safely and efficiently.
  • Posted on: 06/29/2020

    Does Microsoft need stores?

    I applaud this decision by Microsoft. I expect the vast majority of their retail store sales will translate. It's very easy to leverage their experience stores to direct customers online as needed. Further, the retail support teams have demonstrated (for better or worse due to COVID-19) that they can service customers from anywhere. Why reopen physical stores to sell an overwhelmingly digital portfolio? Smart call on the experience stores in key markets. It's a great place to introduce new innovation, lead brand engagement, build relationships; and, if they do it right, inspire awe, with new and existing customers. This is all upside for Microsoft. They just need to deliver on the experience aspect of the new experience stores.
  • Posted on: 06/29/2020

    Can Kanye West make Gap cool again?

    No doubt that Gap needs this to work. If you're familiar with, Kanye West however, you have some doubts. Not about his creative brilliance, but about his consistency. Time will be the best measure on whether this will pay off or not. Gap has had its own challenges with staying relevant and cool. With or without Kanye, consumers need to first decide if Gap is worth a second look. Kanye will definitely help with that, but whether or not a brand with primary success in premium-priced footwear will translate to general market, accessibly-priced apparel is a healthy risk both Gap and Kanye will share.

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