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.

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  • 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.
  • Posted on: 01/31/2020

    Is hot food the ingredient Amazon Go has been lacking?

    Part of the challenge of operating a convenience store is you're essentially running two to three stores in the same location - a merchandise store, a restaurant and a fuel store. That presents all sorts of challenges as you try to serve the customer as optimally as possible. Needless to say, the rest of the retail industry will be watching this very closely to see if/how Amazon can "solve" selling hot food and beverage with Just Walk Out technology. The labor model certainly changes, but if it can drive frequency the margins are there to make it work.
  • Posted on: 01/31/2020

    Will a resale shop deliver bigger sales for Nordstrom?

    Instead of See You Tomorrow, how about calling it Buy It From Us Twice? :-) I applaud Nordstrom for staying on top of changing consumer behavior and adjusting their offer accordingly. That said, I don't see this as a significant portion of Nordstrom's sales. I do think there are other pushes into sustainability that could be made including working with vendors to improve their processes.
  • Posted on: 01/28/2020

    Will investors sleep on Casper’s IPO?

    I don't expect this IPO to go well for new investors. Yes, Casper gets working capital, but the mattress market (or sleep space if we want to more broadly define it) is so saturated and the barriers to entry are low.
  • Posted on: 01/27/2020

    Forget football, the Super Bowl is all about the food!

    Go to Costco this week and see how they flex the space for the Super Bowl (or any other event/mindset). Televisions get added space. There's an extra aisle of alcohol at the expense of produce. Appetizers get more freezer space. You'll also see an expanded offer of tables and chairs. Costco's featured deals and hot buys this week also have more food offerings than typical. Even consumers that don't throw Super Bowl parties still seem to do something extra that day from a food perspective. Consumers are ready to buy, they just need reminders and inspiration.
  • Posted on: 12/09/2019

    Why do so many people say ‘no’ to retailer loyalty programs?

    There are all sorts of reasons why consumers don't join in addition to privacy issues: Too much loyalty clutter in their "wallets" already, not enough value from the program, it's tied to a credit card they don't want, it's not a retailer they plan to shop often, etc. Retailers and other companies with loyalty programs need to design (or redesign) programs that offer compelling value and do an excellent job at quickly and clearly communicating that value. Sign up needs to be simple, fast and not intrusive. Then they need to (over) deliver on that promise.
  • Posted on: 12/03/2019

    The RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge: Kohl’s vs. Macy’s

    While I like the Macy's spot much better, I think its connection with the holiday dream was broken long ago. To me these spots indicate that Kohl's has a better understanding of who it is and what is does well, while Macy's seems to be grasping at the past. Macy's is as much of a transactional store these days as Kohl's is.
  • Posted on: 12/03/2019

    Can Barnes & Noble afford to take it easy over the holidays?

    It's a wise move not to throw money at someone else's strategy that you don't think is working. Better to save that money for more impactful changes that MAY be able to reinvigorate Barnes & Noble. It seems like Barnes & Noble is headed toward a more local, more experiential experience that will draw in customers and encourage them to stay. Amazon owns the "I want a book, I order a book" convenience segment. Barnes & Noble has to offer something more.
  • Posted on: 11/11/2019

    Why is Trader Joe’s hiding stuffed animals in its stores?

    Trader Joe's has been doing this for years. My kids always loved it and it made them more excited to go to TJ's versus Kroger, Giant Eagle and other competitors. It fits with the brand and, therefore, comes across as genuine. "Unpromoted" engagement efforts like this help foster loyalty.

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