Emerson Group’s Retail Industry Day offers new ways to think about consumers
PHILADELPHIA — Now in its eighth year, attendance at the annual Emerson Group Retail Industry Day, held here at the Ritz Carlton, was up significantly — by more than 100 participants — and many in attendance reported this year's lineup was “the best yet.”
First on the speaker card was unconventional artist and motivational speaker Erik Wahl, who encouraged a roomful of suppliers, retailers, marketers and members of the private equity community to recapture some of the unbridled enthusiasm for creativity they had as a children and apply that "color-outside-the-lines thinking to product introductions and new services.
“The challenge, ultimately, is how to remain an artist once we grow up — how to retain that childlike passion, that childlike ability to differentiate, to creatively solve challenges and plug it back into your adult life, your retail business, your connection to the consumer. To stop selling and start engaging.”
Redefining how to think about the market was a common theme throughout the day. For example, Gary Vaynerchuck, entrepreneur, author and CEO of VaynerMedia, returned to Emerson's Retail Industry Day by way of Skype for a colorful Q&A and some straight talk on how to best reach today's consumer through the social media they consume.
“I'm desperately spewing this venom and this advice for one reason,” Vaynerchuck said. “I believe that [among] the entrepreneurs in this room [and] the Emerson Group as a whole, there's a collective energy here that can taste the blood in the water. I'm just trying to give that extra push to make this real. I want you guys to win more because I want one of you to email in three years and say, ‘You know that talk you gave when you were on Skype, that meant something.’”
Emerson's theme for the day was one of convergence, as retail environments, technology and shopping behaviors all evolve into delivering the No. 1 concern on the consumer's mind: “Save me time.”
“The changing landscape of the consumer in the U.S. today will continue to get more and more fragmented,” Matt Poli, VP Emerson marketing, told attendees. “The consumer is in control, and I think smart businesses, great marketers and sales people are going to leverage technology to teach themselves and understand the consumer much better.”
The diverse card of thought-provoking speakers included:
- Sheryl Connelly, responsible for global trends and futuring at Ford Motor Company, explained how to analyze macro trends and anticipate how those trends may impact your brand;
- Wendy Leibmann, CEO and chief shopper at WSL Strategic Retail, walked attendees through the latest trends in shopper attitudes and explained the possible ramifications of the growth in adult-only households;
- Bryan Gildenberg, chief knowledge officer at Kantar Retail, shared how click-and-collect and value-driven retail models will shape the retail landscape in the coming years;
- Ana Ceppi, VP business development at Univision Communications, outlined the significant opportunity available to marketers who are focusing on Hispanic shoppers;
- Mickey Cloud, VP at VaynerMedia, drove home the value associated with the reach and affordability of advertising almost exclusively through social media; and
- Ryan Olohan, national industry director, healthcare at Google, shared how truly creative companies are innovating beyond the scope of their businesses.
"You have the ability to capture the consumers' attention," Poli concluded. “Every vantage point [provided today] demonstrated to you the utmost importance in doing that,” he said. “The job rests with everybody in this room to ask, ‘How do I want to engage, how do I want to capture the attention of the consumer?’”
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