PROFILE

Richard J. George, Ph.D.

Professor of Food Marketing, Haub School of Business, Saint Joseph's University

Dr. Richard J. George is Professor Emeritus of Food Marketing at the Haub School of Business, St. Joseph’s University, where he earned his undergraduate degree in economics. He holds an MBA from Harvard University, and a Ph.D. from Temple University. He has authored or co-authored eleven books including Winning Customer Rules and Winning Marketing Strategy: The Rules.  He has also been recognized with several awards for teaching and research excellence, including the prestigious Lindback and Tengelmann Awards.   As an entrepreneur he has learned the need to “walk the walk” and not simply “talk the talk.” He was one of nineteen professors nationwide named as their favorite undergrad business professor and profiled by Business Week in a feature titled “Class Acts.”  In 2014 he was voted by students as the “Top Prof” in the Haub School of Business.  He has lived and taught in England at the University of London and in Ireland at the University College Cork.

As an expert on food marketing strategy, brand strategy, business ethics, marketing strategy, customer delight, marketing trends, and servant leadership, he has been quoted by major news organizations and industry publications worldwide. He has spoken on these topics in the Americas, Eastern and Western Europe, and the Pacific Rim.  Articles on these topics have appeared in the European Journal of Marketing, Journal of Consumer Marketing, Journal of Food Products Marketing, Journal of Marketing Management, Adweek, Grocery Headquarters, Marketing News, the International Review of Retail Distribution and Consumer Research, the Journal of Negro Education, and the Journal of Business Ethics.

Dr. George has spent his entire professional career in the development of people.  Over the course of his career, with his speeches in the U.S. and internationally, he has reached tens of thousands of students and food marketing industry leaders.  He is the previous holder of the Gerald E. Peck Fellowship, working on a project for the International Foodservice Distributors Association (IFDA).  The objective of the IFDA research project was to enhance collaboration between foodservice manufacturers and distributors.  Previously, he held the fellowship sponsored by FMI during which he produced three published research reports focusing on the future of food wholesaling.

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  • Posted on: 07/31/2020

    Nov. 2021: How should retail plan for a return to normal?

    The "new normal" will be nothing like "normal." While the virus might have caught us off guard in the spring, we now know it is not going away shortly and we probably will not see a real change in retail shopping behaviors until a vaccine is widely available. Retailers know what the COVID-19 shopping environment is like. So instead of introducing interim stop gap measures, the time is right for the development of a comprehensive strategy. Plan for the worst and hope for the best!
  • Posted on: 07/30/2020

    Is a drive-through-only store the shape of things to come for Wawa?

    Wawa has been a convenience store innovator for years. Its dramatic move to Florida -- jumping over the Carolinas and Georgia and landing with a dedicated foodservice model -- indicates its willingness and ability to respond to changing customer needs. It has been argued that Wawa eschewed drive-through based on its focus on providing ultimate consumer meal choices, which can only be fully provided by custom ordering and preparation. Having the full array of current food options would not fit a convenient drive-through model. However a limited assortment will. Wawa continues to ramp up convenience in other ways. This summer a number of resort area Wawa stores have expanded their mobile app order option to allow for a "drive up to the store and enjoy" curbside pickup (associates bring the completed pre-paid order to the car.) This type of convenience allows for any custom order - something which the drive-through option doesn't provide. You can be certain Wawa is not finished innovating.
  • Posted on: 07/28/2020

    Has retail adaptation become more about survival than competitive edge?

    The new normal will be anything but normal. Many organizations are chanting the mantra of “survive then thrive.” The longer this pandemic lasts (Wave 1, Wave 2, spikes, etc.), the longer we remain in survival mode. However eventually we will emerge on the other side of COVID-19 and those organizations who proactively adapted their shopping models will enjoy a competitive advantage.
  • Posted on: 07/23/2020

    Best Buy connects strong sales to frontline worker performance

    Best Buy appears to have addressed the critical staffing factor of involving frontline workers in its pursuit of customer delight. There are two aspects of the involving process -- cultural and educational. The cultural part creates an environment that makes people feel good and enthusiastically supports their quest to delight customers. The educational component prepares these enthusiastic players to constantly and consistently delight current and potential customers. Best Buy has done both during this pandemic. These two factors, along with reasonable compensation, have made a difference in the short term and may be a formula for success going forward for Best Buy.
  • Posted on: 07/22/2020

    It is a different year. Walmart is closing on Thanksgiving.

    A good move by Walmart as another way to recognize and honor these essential employees. I anticipate other retailers will follow. The last few years have seen Black Friday sized crowds in stores on Thanksgiving. COVID-19 concerns will be mitigated on that day. In addition, COVID-19 has pushed customers to online shopping, which is what many customers may be doing on Turkey Day.
  • Posted on: 07/20/2020

    Why does it take a crisis for retailers to get innovative?

    As discussed in my books on marketing strategy, businesses -- including retailers -- all suffer from complacency at some time during their life cycle. The problem occurs when a company achieves some measure of success, possibly with good strategy, and believes it can’t fail. Success breeds complacency, and complacency leads to failure. Remember as a kid you played a game called “king of the mountain” or “king of the hill.” Someone started by standing on the top of the hill. To get to the top you had to kick, scratch, and claw your way up the hill. Remember how you stayed on top, not by being smug and complacent, but by doing the things that got you there, namely, kicking, scratching, and clawing. This kid’s game analogy is true in business as well. Companies need to stay vigilant. Current success does not guarantee future success. Remember the old adage, “Whom the gods want to destroy, they send 40 years of success.” Or, in the words attributed to the late Malcolm Forbes, “The toughest business obstacle to overcome is success.” COVID-19 simply highlighted the barriers to innovation brought on by complacency.
  • Posted on: 07/17/2020

    Struggling retailers lay off workers and pay millions in executive bonuses

    As noted, it's not an issue related solely to retail. However it sends a clear message to “essential” workers that they may not be so essential. If the rule of thumb for determining a bonus is to ask, did these executives materially help to improve the earnings of their respective companies, in this case the answer appears to be “no” across the board. This is an ethical rather than a legal issue. While these payments may not violate any laws, it does not mean that ethics and the law share the same inflection point. Ethics should occupy the space above the legal limits.
  • Posted on: 07/13/2020

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

    The continuing surge of COVID-19 cases will continue to drive all shoppers to online for the foreseeable future. Every week that new consumer behaviors are engaged it makes it more likely that these behaviors will continue in the longer term.
  • Posted on: 07/13/2020

    Is Uber/Postmates a bigger deal for restaurant or grocery delivery?

    As restaurants battle to stay afloat during this pandemic, with states pulling back on inside dining, this deal provides them with another viable means of prepared foods delivery. Food retail has been ahead of restaurants on the delivery front. Therefore the incremental impact of this deal in the food retail space will be marginal.
  • Posted on: 07/10/2020

    Retailers need way more fulfillment space to keep up with booming online sales

    It's not surprising to see such distribution real estate predictions, particularly when forecasts for malls and offices are more dire. The challenge will be to creatively address these needs which will continue to grow but at a decreasing rate. Other panelists have articulated a variety of solutions short of simply adding more square feet of fulfillment space. I recommend those investing in more warehouse-type space to proceed with caution.
  • Posted on: 07/07/2020

    Has the pandemic changed shopping behaviors forever?

    The new normal will be anything but normal. Going forward, many of the shopping behaviors adopted during COVID-19 will endure. The key for retailers is to be sensitive to the emerging concerns, particularly affordability and planet first. This is a terrific opportunity to leverage their crash course in online retailing into an integrated shopping strategy for post COVID-19.
  • Posted on: 07/06/2020

    Will Wegmans need a post-pandemic makeover?

    I wouldn’t bet against Wegmans. Reducing SKUs is not necessarily a bad idea. SKU pruning doesn’t automatically translate into a significant change in customer treasure hunt perspectives. On the other hand, focusing on fast casual meals fits the Wegmans image. A couple of caveats: 1.) Customers who are COVID-19 fatigued will return to Wegmans to enjoy the freedom and fun of a Wegmans shopping experience. 2.) Whenever we get to a new normal, I see a return of some aspect of the Pub.
  • Posted on: 07/01/2020

    How can grocers hold onto their new most valuable customers?

    As I have often said, we tend to define the concept of loyalty backwards. There is no reason a customer should be loyal to his grocery store. Be loyal to your family, country, Alma Mater, etc. Retailers need to be loyal to their customers by simply delivering on their promises. When it comes to online and in-store shopping the process needs to focus on speed, convenience and seamlessness. Make it easy to shop in the store during the process of picking up online purchases. For example, have designated preferred parking and delivery to the car of online purchases when exiting from an in-store shopping visit. Online purchases including fresh and refrigerated products will go into the vehicle last and then the shopper is off to their home. Retailers need to focus on every aspect of their customers' shopping experiences (online and in-store) and identify all of the places where these valuable customers are forced to compromise, namely doing something they prefer not to do. Fix these compromises and retailers will enjoy enhanced continuity of purchases.
  • Posted on: 06/26/2020

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

    You cannot save your way to prosperity. While no company should be cavalier about expenses, reductions in the number of staff and the number of outlets without a bona fide strategy in place going forward is the Sears model of failure.
  • Posted on: 06/23/2020

    Would Amazon and Google benefit from publishing fake consumer reviews?

    This decision is pretty straightforward. Reviews are an important part of the consumer decision making process. Consumers want fake reviews left in but called out. There may be a time when “information overload” kicks in for consumers. At such time, review sites should consider more censorship options, particularly in light of 15 percent to 30 percent of posts being fake. But for now leave them in and call them out.

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