Retailers operate in an industry and a world that refuses to stand still, and they serve a consumer that’s always evolving. Staying in tune with these changes is a challenging but necessary part of the job for retail communications professionals, who are continuously evaluating and adapting the way they tell stories about their brand to deliver the most impact.
NRF recently convened its Retail Communicators’ Network at Tapestry’s New York City headquarters to talk about current and emerging issues facing the industry. The program saw 30 senior retail communications professionals come together to learn from one another and stay ahead of the curve.
Our exceptional speaker lineup covered six key topics:
Learn more about the NRF Retail Communicators' Network and how you can join.
Mark Mathews, executive director of research at NRF, provided an economic outlook, noting the strength of the consumer despite inflation and other headwinds. Mathews observed that wage growth is now matching or exceeding inflation, and shoppers have become much more careful with their money. Looking ahead, he said consumers will retain their spending power in the form of savings and wage growth.
Consumer behavior and attitudes
Bill Knapp, partner at research and public affairs firm SKDK, led a discussion about brand communications in today’s political landscape, and factors companies should consider when deciding how or when to take a stand on potentially divisive issues. Knapp detailed how retailers can build reputational strength by knowing their customers, living their values, bringing people together, avoiding flip-flopping and backing up their claims.
Pennsylvania State University’s Heather Shoenberger, associate professor of advertising, and Mehrdad Mahdavi, Dorothy Quiggle Career Development assistant professor of computer science and engineering, provided an introduction to generative AI and its potential for communications. The session included examples of retailers using AI for things like automated product descriptions, email campaigns and newsletters, social media posts, creative campaign concepts, A/B testing for ad copy optimization and sentiment analysis.
Katherine Cullen, vice president of industry and consumer insights at NRF, provided a preview of holiday trends and the consumer mindset heading into the busy shopping season. According to NRF’s recent survey, consumers plan to spend an average $875 per person on gifts and other holiday essentials. Consumers report that they will prioritize spending on what’s important to them by taking steps to cover the cost of items they want and need to make the holiday season special.
Courtney Reagan, senior retail reporter at CNBC, held an off-the-record conversation about organized retail crime, what she’s tracking for the upcoming holiday season and how retail reporting is evolving.
Tracy Harlow vice president of corporate communications at Walmart U.S., facilitated a closed-door session about reputational safety and retail communicators’ roles in brand protection.
Thank you to our sponsor Comcast Business, and to our meeting hosts Tapestry and Tracy Harlow, for creating an open and energizing environment for dialogue.
Learn more about NRF’s Retail Communicators’ Network and request to join here.