PROFILE

Rob Gallo

Chief Marketing Officer, Impact 21

Though Rob Gallo’s title is Chief Marketing Officer, his role goes above and beyond marketing. He has a knack for connecting the dots and finding better paths to reaching goals. And he has more than 20 years’ experience in doing just that as a trusted strategist driving real business results for the world’s biggest brands. At Impact 21, Rob guides the overall marketing strategy for the firm, working closely with clients including retailers, consumer goods companies and technology providers.

Rob leads a wide range of strategy, business outlook and performance improvement engagements, tapping into his significant experience with primary consumer research studies. He helps suppliers and retailers identify viable growth opportunities and provides diagnostic analysis. Rob has been heavily involved in assortment strategies, competitive and landscape assessments, market entry strategies and “Store of the Future” studies. Rob is frequently asked to share his knowledge in trade publications or as a guest presenter/speaker for organizations like NACS.

Rob’s expertise stems from his first days as a bagger for Big Bear grocery store. Rob’s experience has gone well beyond his bagging days and now encompasses multiple fast-moving consumer goods channels including grocery, supercenters and warehouse clubs. He also gained extensive experience with specialty apparel and department stores. He has worked with suppliers servicing most retail channels in the areas of growth strategy, market entry, category management and shopper insights. Currently, Rob holds advisory board positions with CBUS Retail and Med-Compliance IQ. Prior to Impact 21, he held senior positions at Chute Gerdeman, Kantar Retail, Retail Forward and the Management Horizons Division of Price Waterhouse.

Born in Philadelphia but raised in Ohio, Rob attended The Ohio State University where he earned his bachelor’s degree in marketing. He applies his know-how to the natural soap company, Elemental Blue, owned and operated in partnership with his wife. Rob is still able to find time to play and enjoys bicycling, fitness, fishing, the outdoors, traveling, and spending time with his family. He makes it a priority to support multiple charities that have affected his friends and family.

To learn more, visit: impact21.com

 

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  • Posted on: 10/05/2020

    Can one site make men love, not hate, shopping online?

    This is just a beefed up affiliate site that makes money by pushing traffic to the appropriate retailer. The front page is just multiple top 10 lists repackaged as curation efforts. These could just as easily be best robot vacuums, best cordless drills, etc. From a business standpoint it is likely very inexpensive to run and could yield some decent income if marketed well. I'm not sure it hits the mark on targeting stylish men as well as Huckberry or others do.
  • Posted on: 05/26/2020

    What will Applebee’s and Boston Market learn from their virtual restaurants?

    At least in the case of Pasqually’s this points directly at negative brand connotations. If you're trying to win over consumers with better food, there is a much better way to do this than to hide behind a new name. Years ago Domino's admitted its food quality was sub-par, totally revamped its food offer and was big and bold about it. It worked.
  • Posted on: 05/18/2020

    Would an Uber/Grubhub merger be good for restaurant meal delivery?

    I'm not sure that such a merger is going to fix the mess that third-party delivery (3PD) is right now. With a high take rate and limited data-sharing, this is not currently a long-term strategy for restaurants. In the meantime there are substantial gaps that need to be addressed that currently undermine the customer experience and can erode a loyal customer base:
    • Quality assurance, change management and training is lacking;
    • Reconciliation issues;
    • Operating hours between 3PDs and restaurants are out of sync;
    • Marketing/communication issues.
    We are guiding firms through many of these challenges now. I would expect a merger, at least in the short to intermediate term, to take the focus away from solving many of these challenges.
  • Posted on: 04/30/2020

    Will working remotely change how we communicate?

    Impact 21 has been remote for a decade plus. The last few months have been very interesting to compare to 2018-19. Obviously, the use of video has increased greatly. We have clients that were entirely WFO (work from office) that were forced into WFH. I have found that most of them have now requested a Teams meeting versus the standard conference call dial-in. Video provides context and strengthens personal connections. It also allows you to better read the audience and move quicker when they understand or slower when it is clear they want to dive deeper into an issue. While I think most are excited to make some in-person visits, I do think video conferencing will replace at least some initial meetings. I expect that to impact travel budgets slightly. On the WFH front, it will be interesting to see how companies with large work forces and owned real estate explain why everyone needs to go back to work.
  • Posted on: 04/20/2020

    Should fashion retailers mothball spring?

    For those that can do it, packing it up makes sense. Anyone that pays attention to Gilt, Hautelook and Rue La La over time can tell you that merch from prior seasons still sells. Those sites sit on merch and pulse the discount to get it to move.
  • Posted on: 04/17/2020

    Can Neighborhood Goods’ platform help brands hurt by the pandemic?

    I applaud companies that are doing their best to help out. COVID-19 has presented all sorts of challenges and has shown a spotlight on folks that are thinking differently. This is a fulcrum moment when people and companies can deepen connections, relationships and loyalty. Not everybody can turn their manufacturing prowess to making masks. Neighborhood Goods does a great job of showcasing brands, so they've leveraged that to help out brands that are struggling now. This can help the brands and also give Neighborhood Goods great data for its physical locations to leverage when stores can re-open.
  • Posted on: 04/14/2020

    Has COVID-19 turned fashion into an endangered retail species?

    We will definitely be witnessing a mix of desperation and creativity. Given the timing of the pandemic, fashion retailers are looking at three seasons worth of merchandise - winter clearance, spring and summer. The carrying costs and lack of cash flow will prevent retailers from packing it away and keeping it for next year. To make matters worse, once you introduce abnormally high discounts to customers, you train them to wait. So retailers will need to be creative with promotions. I've already seen some retailers discounting at a higher percentage than their normal deep discount, but adding a minimum quantity threshold. Off-pricers are well-positioned to win here with a potential influx of great merchandise. Fashion won't go away, but it will struggle for a while and the landscape will look different. Some retailers with strong and significant e-commerce operations are likely considering not opening their stores back up.
  • Posted on: 04/09/2020

    Pandemic or no, card companies will not extend Outdoor EMV deadline for c- and g-stores

    A delay makes sense given the circumstances. Outdoor involves a greater level of complexity than indoor EMV. Much of the outdoor hold up was warranted due to delays in producing, certifying and bringing to market solutions that met the requirements of the convenience retailer. The card brands played a role in these delays as certification requirements for outdoor EMV were delayed as they evolved when compared to indoor EMV. In addition, the conversion from swipe to EMV also requires a change in the customer experience. The indoor conversion had store associates to help the customers. In an outdoor transaction, there is no store associate to directly assist. The new variables introduced by the COVID-19 situation include:
    • State by state definitions of what work is permitted to continue and under what circumstances;
    • Governmental closures which preclude required inspections;
    • Respective company policies on social distancing for both installers and retailers;
    • Impacts to availability of certified technicians due to the pandemic which reduce the pool of qualified and required technicians;
    • Potential supply chain interruptions.
  • Posted on: 03/17/2020

    Will the coronavirus pandemic change how retailers and consultants work together?

    I wouldn't say it's business as usual at Impact 21, as many clients have closed their offices. However, aside from attention being dramatically (and appropriately) shifted to dealing with coronavirus contingencies, we are able to continue all existing project work through a combination of video conferencing, SharePoint and other productivity tools. Frankly, the current working environment is not too different from our projects with international clients (high use of video conferencing, productivity tools) where travel budgets can take up an unnecessarily large portion of a project.
  • Posted on: 03/12/2020

    Why is Neiman Marcus shuttering its Last Call off-price business?

    I saw a big disconnect between Neiman Marcus and Last Call that the other retailers didn't have. Nordstrom is upscale. Neiman Marcus is luxury. I think the customer expected to see luxury items that were discounted for whatever reason (previous season, overruns, minor defects, returned items). What you often found at Last Call online or in stores, was non-luxury brands with a few luxury needles in the haystack. The online luxury assortment was often higher-priced than what you could find at other retailers like Rue La La or even the brand's own website (i.e. Jimmy Choo). I think this business became just too expensive to run and too far away from the core Neiman Marcus value proposition. I think the clarity will help.
  • Posted on: 03/03/2020

    7-Eleven’s new store concept is an ‘Evolution’ in convenience

    Every retailer that operates a chain of decent size should have lab stores to test and refine progressive offers (merch, tech, services) in a perpetual effort to reinvent itself and drive better relationships with current and future customers. Good move.
  • Posted on: 02/26/2020

    Will fulfilling third-party vendor orders give Walmart an edge over Amazon?

    For Walmart it makes sense and has been a long time coming given their supply chain chops. For 3rd party sellers, I would imagine they will test it due to the lower cost structure driven by no monthly fees. It then becomes a numbers game. With Amazon, you pay more to be another needle in the seller haystack but can generate sales purely through the search volume that Amazon gets. With Walmart, it's cheaper and there are far fewer suppliers, but you'll get far less search volume. If the incremental sales are worthwhile at WFS, suppliers will stay.
  • Posted on: 02/25/2020

    Amazon goes bigger with its cashier-less store concept

    At some point the technology is going to work and work at scale. This is just another indication that things are headed in the right direction. Yes, Amazon has the privilege of spending, testing, and modifying all without the worry of a significant drain on profits, but that's not a bad thing when innovation is the result. All of that said, Amazon will still be measured on the basis of the customer experience. Technology can enable and even drive the customer experience but price, assortment, engagement, etc. will play a huge role.
  • Posted on: 02/19/2020

    Shoppers have a love/hate relationship with self-checkouts

    The answer depends on several factors including trip type. If you have a few items that are all barcoded, weigh more than a few ounces and there is no line in front of you then self-checkout becomes a time saver. If you increase that basket to include produce, very light items and items that are part of a loyalty discount (the self-checkout announces your savings before letting you scan the next item) then things really slow down and frustration ensues. To make matters worse, retailers sometimes have zero staffed checkouts (even at key traffic times) available forcing the inexperienced folks through self-checkout which further slows things down. From what I have seen the equation is whether the labor savings is higher than the increase in shrink. I would like to see store managers with more authority to step in when necessary to help customers and better manage the queue.
  • Posted on: 02/13/2020

    Will technology even the last-mile playing field with Amazon?

    Amazon had the benefit of patience and capital. Others with game-changing technology have too - Uber, Tesla, etc. The issue here is that these companies are now taking on Amazon (the best-in-class incumbent). Amazon started off challenging Barnes & Noble. Uber was initially taking on taxi cabs. Tesla was taking on debt-laden car manufacturers. There's a huge difference between taking on weaker players ripe for the picking versus best-in-class companies. I agree with some of the comments made already; this is getting to be a cluttered space. There is huge benefit to figuring out a way to be the anti-Amazon as Microsoft is with Azure, but there will be many more failures than successes. And the funding here is a drop in the bucket versus what Amazon can throw at this.

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