2019 Summit Highlights

We have wrapped up our 8th annual retailer-only marketing summit in Napa, and here are some of the major themes we expect to shape our landscape in the immediate future.


  • Huge technological change is HERE, and we must embrace the opportunities ahead of us. How we adapt to use them to our advantage – both for the retailer and the consumer- will be key; we need to watch Voice as it may become the “google search” of the next era (which is coming at us fast).
  • Privacy concerns are continuing to escalate and new data rules and interfaces may exist in the near future (i.e. identity blockchain) that could mean less data overall to marketers, but perhaps more in-depth data on specific people who choose to share access.  We each could potentially have our own data blockchain with all our purchase history and we’d get to decide who uses it and who doesn’t.
  • AI is intriguing and TBD on friend or foe – can be used to complement the design and marketing process (not to replace the humans…yet).
    • We all need to “reframe our thinking.”  Don’t force old ways on the new ways/technologies we have today – it limits the innovation and application of what is becoming available.
  • For all the fuss about the so-called retail apocalypse, stores are still a great way to activate and grow the customer base and brand – pretty much agreed upon by all investors and brands who spoke.  In addition, new technologies like 3D printing will involve the consumer more in the actual merchandising/creation of product.
  • Allen Nance talked about the coming interconnectedness of channels (unique ID across all devices belonging to one consumer) and emphasized that everyone wants a more personalized experience but pretty much everyone also wants control over their data.
  • Do everything brick by brick – what you do today will make your business what it needs to be in the future, but you can’t do it all at once.
  • There are privacy laws coming down the pike, but the gist of them is give your customers Notice and Choice.


  • Trevor Testwuide from Measured presented their unofficial motto: “Questions are great but decisions are better.”  This is a useful way to avoid going down analysis paralysis rabbit holes.  Don’t test just to answer an interesting question – make it something that you can use.
  • “The best and truest real-time marketing is the Brand,”  Allen Nance, emarsys
  • “Keep your persistence stronger than their resistance.”  Babs Rangaiah, IBM
  • “Live as a consumer first, then as a marketer.” Josee, Burton Global


  • Brainstorm with your team on the question, “Why Buy from You?”  What makes you unique and what is the best reason to buy this particular item from your brand?  (Or why should an investor give you money?  How do you stand out?)  With so much competition, the answer to that question better be crystal clear.
  • Trying something new such as “pick up customer and deliver them to store” and/or pop-up store could be worth it given the comparatively low initial test spend.  Your brand is a combination of micro-events and experiences, and all these small opportunities culminate in a special relationship between you and the customer.
  • Pop-ups are a quick and agile (and generally low cost!) way to put your brand in front of new consumers.  They should definitely have Instagrammable opportunities – décor, special areas for amazing and IG-worthy selfies.
  • Influencer marketing isn’t just for fun – it can pay real dividends for companies that are serious about investing in it.  Works for some brands more than others (younger customer base, authentic brand, specific style). When something is trending on IG, grab a pic (UGC) and send it out in an email.
  • There is opportunity with Amazon, but it is a “seller beware” model that has to be closely managed by the retailer.
  • The whole company/team should be looking at and giving importance to a small set of key metrics.  Whether that is immediate ROAS or CPA or something else, agree upon that measurement and track on a daily or weekly basis to enable quick turns in marketing spend.  If something’s not working, go to a different channel.
  • For many niche brands, TV can be very valuable.  Shoot a reasonably priced ad and buy remnant spots like post-Christmas for a better ROI.  (If you aren’t just a gift brand.)
  • Have a keen understanding of your entire brand – from the outbound packaging to the storefront to the emails to the merchandise.  Everything should work within your brand styling.

Thank you again to our fantastic group of speakers and the industry-leading attendees who made our event another resounding success!

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