People Still Matter, Learnings from the NRF Conference
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Is retail’s main focus on efficiency and execution? What about the people they serves? These were my findings from the NRF conference.

Last week I went to the NRF debrief event, curated and organized by BTR – Varese, one of the most important retail expert firms and the responsible for the biggest Brazilian delegation to the NRF Retail’s Big Show in New York.  The NRF – National Retail Federation, promotes the oldest and most important retail congress in the world and each year attracts the biggest retail players and – executives to learn about the newest technologies, trends and retail solutions.

It was interesting to see all the trends and learnings during the NRF Big Show, to learn about the new dominance of China in the retail business and many of the new technologies and its applications in innovation and customer service driving efficiency for the retail business.

What disappointed me however, was the focus on mainly efficiency and execution in a retail-landscape struggling with low-margins and fierce competition during 4 out of the 6 segment-insights they shared. Where was the focus on the client, the people retail serves? I regained some trust in the the strategic focus of retail when they presented the more people related insights.

This happened when they presented the data:  “when asked, 75% of the people would prefer to talk to a person than a machine.”

That was also when they presented the last two insights, “Customer Centric Organizations” and “Trusty Leadership – Culture, Purpose and Transformation”

At that stage, it was highlighted that people choose what and where to buy things not only based on price, efficiency, quality and user experience, but also on knowing who are the people behind the business, how they think, position themselves and especially how they behave when facing societal issues.

Then they exemplified with the well known Nike Colin Kaepernick, Gillette and Ikea Italy campaigns. Examples of brands that have a point of view, position themselves and choose a side.

Brands that have the courage to stand for a cause may not please everyone but make more loyal consumers. In a world where technology is more and more accessible to everyone and every business, purpose seems to be key differentiator also for the retail brands.

This was definitely an energy boost to continue on my journey of helping people, teams and organizations to develop more meaningful brands and in line with what I truly believe: purpose matters since people matter.

Felipe Ribeiro, Affiliate Partner & Business Humanizer