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Key themes we heard from global retail experts at NRF 2023

Retail Brew

We loved getting to meet so many of you at NRF, and to hear you dig into the industry’s hottest topics on the big stage (we know you couldn’t see us—we heard those stage lights were bright!) Narrowing down the top takeaways from all three days was a challenge, but we’ve pulled together a few of the overarching themes that came up in panel after panel.

Personalization and loyalty reign supreme

Loyalty programs and the opportunity to personalize the shopping experience is a key focus for many major retailers this year. That’s in part due to the choppy economic waters they’re steering through as we move into 2023.

The tightening of consumer purse strings and flat inflation-adjusted shopper incomes points to the need for brands to “dial up” loyalty, said Rachel Dalton, head of retailer insights at data analytics company Kantar, who interviewed Target’s EVP and chief growth officer,  Christina Hennington, on Tuesday.

  • “It’s really about having a constant connection with the consumer and the elements that the consumer expects, even as their needs and wants change,” Hennington said.

In addition to economic challenges, post-pandemic realities also play into the importance of loyalty, said Christopher Thomas-Moore, SVP of customer and store experience at Domino’s.

  • “Going through the pandemic, I think we all were seeking connection with people,” Thomas-Moore said during a Monday panel. “That connection translates in a lot of different ways when you talk about what that brand’s connection to their customer is.”
  • Personalization is a retail industry buzzword, but it’s multi-faceted, and is ultimately about staying relevant with consumers, Thomas-Moore said.

Maintaining loyalty among today’s consumers means staying ahead of the curve, Hollister’s senior director of brand marketing strategy, Jacee Scoular, explained. “Innovation, in a lot of ways, is that new kind of loyalty,” Scoular said. “Understand why consumers are voting with you, and innovate to keep up with what they expect from you,” she added, pointing to younger shoppers’ expectations surrounding conscious consumerism.