This past week, MBD was a proud sponsor of the Retail Brands Institute Innovation Summit! Previously known as “My Private Brand”, Retail Brands Institute (RBI) recently went through a rebrand and launched their new look at the conference! If you’re not already a member, be sure to sign up (for free!) on the new website.

Innovate or become irrelevant. Throughout the Innovation Summit, this theme stood out in presentations from a variety of retailers, agencies, and suppliers. We were continually struck by the importance of innovation and the call to retailers to be shopper-centric in everything they do.

Here were our top 5 takeaways from the event:

1. Engage customers in NEW ways. We were inspired by Natalie Taake from Kroger. Learning about Kroger’s Instagram, giveaways and new interactions with consumers, Natalie explained the value of creatively engaging customers. Patty Civilarri author of ‘Becoming Trader Joe’ discusses in her book how important it is to carry products that are different from everyone else, keeping health and value first and foremost. The variety of products offered must be new and ever changing.

2. Trends are trends. Keeping up with them isn’t always necessary. Don’t follow the leader but blaze your own path. And don’t be afraid to fail – it might happen!

3. Brands have evolved into a lifestyle on every level. We appreciated how Susan Sanderson-Briggs from Party City discussed their new store brand. They have really built their brand story around being in the business of “making memories”. Susan provided excellent stories about how to develop shopper-centric products to help people make memories with their loved ones.

4. Promote innovation within even the smallest of teams. Use the trickle up effect. Patty also talks about how Trader Joe’s believes in overpaying employees to increase employee retention. Another speaker, Dan Reilly encouraged senior management to allow themselves to be LED by junior members of the company in innovation which not only delivers great ideas but creates a communication line between all levels of the business.

5. Technology is our friend and customers are open to it! Order Pickup, drive-up, user-friendly apps, and new digital experiences are important to consumers. Make sure you don’t fall behind!

If you missed any of the presentations, you can view them for FREE as soon as you become a member of Retail Brands Institute. Simply log in, and all the videos will be right there for you to view on this page. Thank you to all the speakers are participants who made this an excellent event!