NRF 2024 will still have many impacts and will echo in the retail scenario throughout the year. With huge numbers, including more than 40,000 participants, 6,200 brands, 100 countries, 190 lectures, 450 speakers and 1,000 exhibitors, this edition will be marked in the history of the largest retail event in the world. Powerful speeches, like those from Magic Johnson, will leave a message in the memory of all participants.

Unlike last year, when topics such as macroeconomics, inflation and motivation strategies were protagonists, NRF 2024 focused intensely on topics that should be crucial for the future of retail: Retail Media and Artificial Intelligence combined with operational efficiency. I also heard a lot about brands planning to attract Generation Z and, of course, how big brands, like Levi’s, can be so long-lived, using the right strategies and adapting to the customer at every moment in their history.

Moving away from the subject of “trends”, when the theme was inspirational and motivating, the entrepreneurship of “make it happen” took over. Magic Johnson’s talk was the basis for these discussions. But, let’s go to the main pillars of NRF 2024, in my view.

Retail Media: A revolution in retail communication

Discussions on Retail Media revealed a significant shift in the way brands view advertising within the retail environment. The emphasis on creating visibility and maximizing revenue through advertising activations during the purchasing journey demonstrates the search for a more direct and effective approach.

This approach, observed in several lectures during the event, highlights the need to monetize sales space, whether digital or physical. Although Brazil’s current scenario in relation to Retail Media is far from that observed in the USA, there are promising opportunities for local development. Retailers are realizing the value of the moment of purchase and exploring ways to capitalize on this space so as not to rely exclusively on a single source of revenue, especially given the growth of online commerce.

Artificial Intelligence: beyond numbers and data

NRF 2024 would hardly pass without addressing Artificial Intelligence. In my initial research into this year’s event, it was “simple” to identify that this would be one of the most powerful themes during the year.

However, the focus was not just on AI itself, but on how retailers view it as a tool to drive operational efficiency. And that’s why operational efficiency has become a central topic in discussions, with talks highlighting how companies can implement AI-based solutions to reduce costs, increase customer satisfaction and improve the overall experience.

The customer journey was a big point discussed, with a lot of thinking about how companies can attract more and, of course, build loyalty. In my view, it was clear that success lies in the balanced combination of the company’s internal resources and the opportunities provided by AI.

Generation Z and what brands expect from them

AI-driven personalization has become an essential tool for meeting Gen Z expectations by offering personalized recommendations, targeted communications, and tailored experiences. There was a spectacular talk to open the second day, when three brands – H&M, Spotify and McDonald’s – came together to talk about the future and, consequently, Generation Z.

Spotify wants to give this audience much more than just music. They want to help Generation Z grow with continuous learning, through podcasts, for example. There is a latent preference among this public to acquire knowledge on topics that have not been covered in educational institutions,

McDonald’s is working to offer a language that connects with Generation Z. Furthermore, it is beginning to rethink the physical space and what the future of the chain will be like in this sense. There is an estimate that, in 2030, 55% of McDonald’s stores will have the lowest visit rate in 45 years.

Entrepreneurship was the buzz word in motivational talks

The theme “Make it Matter” of NRF 2024 was echoed in the motivational talks (those that go beyond business), which followed an inspiring line of entrepreneurship. Speakers highlighted the importance of thinking about plans, building collaboratively and transforming ideas into concrete actions. In Magic Johnson’s talk, he even told a story about how he helped his daughter with this issue.

NRF 2024 provided a comprehensive vision of the future of retail, outlining a new chapter full of possibilities.

The parallels between technological innovation, operational efficiency and entrepreneurial vision are shaping an exciting scenario for the sector. Now, we can explore that future, leveraging the lessons learned in NRF 2024 to prosper in the years to come.

*Mariana Tahan Ralisch is Wake’s Marketing Director


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