Brian Numainville

Principal, The Retail Feedback Group

Brian became a Principal of Retail Feedback Group (RFG) in 2012 and is the Co-Author of Feedback Rules!, a book created to provide useful tips for everyone that listens to their customers, employees or business partners. In his role at RFG, Brian partners with retailers, wholesalers, other businesses and nonprofits throughout the U.S. to design and conduct voice of customer programs, consumer research, employee surveys, stakeholder studies, B2B surveys, custom research and market analysis projects.

Prior to joining RFG, Brian worked at Nash Finch Company, a Fortune 500 food wholesaler and retailer, for 18 years, where he led market research, public relations and the charitable foundation. At Nash Finch, Brian pioneered the initial implementation of geographic information systems, developed the consumer research program, and launched a customer feedback program in all corporate-owned stores and many independent locations.

At the industry level, Brian has served in multiple thought leadership roles including many years as Chair of the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) Consumer Market Research Committee and as a member of the Program Leadership Board at the University of Minnesota Food Industry Center. He is a frequent presenter/panelist at numerous conferences and events for organizations including the Produce Marketing Association (PMA), the National Grocers Association (NGA), and the Minnesota Grocers Association (MGA).

In addition to his research expertise, Brian also leverages his significant background in public relations/corporate communications which has included writing impactful press releases, creating compelling executive presentations, developing annual reports, heading media relations efforts, spearheading internal communications, utilizing social media, engaging in marketing and serving as corporate spokesperson.

Brian designed and executed many major cause marketing programs including Feeding Imagination (130,000+ books donated to kids) and Helping Hands in the Community Day (400+ volunteers). While Chair, the NFC Foundation/Nash Finch received the prestigious Jefferson Award from the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal.  Brian currently serves on four nonprofit boards with missions ranging from local hunger relief to international medical assistance.

A recipient of the 40 Under Forty Award from the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal, Brian has also been honored with the Alumni of Notable Achievement Award from the University of Minnesota and the WCCO-AM Good Neighbor Award. Brian earned his M.A. in Communication Studies and his B.A. summa cum laude in Communication Studies from the University of Minnesota. He also holds Professional Researcher Certification (PRC) from the Marketing Research Association.

Buy: Feedback Rules!

  • Posted on: 08/30/2017

    Will smart homes be sold in living rooms?

    There are many different smart home device providers out there (with more to come and some to die off) and many consumers won't want to spend the time or effort to figure out how everything is pieced together. Plus, one might not consider all of the possibilities if you don't know what all exists. Although I have put together my own smart home and integrated many different elements, I actually enjoy that type of thing. In-home consultations, at least in the early days of these devices, will be important but as time goes on they will become less needed except in more complex setups. This should be paired with in-store help that also understands how these devices work and properly displays them.
  • Posted on: 07/31/2017

    Is ‘free’ a big enough incentive to get consumers to try click and collect?

    BOPIS reduces friction, boosts traffic to the store (and sometimes additional sales beyond the initial item(s), is much more cost effective than delivery, and will remain so going forward. Offering customers an incentive to try the service with a discount is a tactic that can be strategically used to build traffic. If kept in place too long, this will become an expectation rather than a periodic tactic that can be used to boost trial.
  • Posted on: 06/09/2017

    Is it time for stores to ditch the free Wi-Fi?

    Free Wi-Fi is a basic expectation of shoppers and has become an expectation of a "with it" retailer. I wouldn't remove it for a minimal cost savings.
  • Posted on: 05/24/2017

    What does it take to thrive in an over-stored marketplace?

    I totally agree that metrics need to move from the main focus on old-school transactional measures to focusing more on the shoppers AND their satisfaction with their shopping experience. In addition, the old construct of pulling shoppers through a maze to get them to buy certain things is well past its prime. Shoppers online can easily find what they are looking for and stores need to be structured in the same way. This will become even more important as we evolve into the future as shoppers being brought up online will expect this of all shopping experiences. Finally, differentiation is key -- if I am in an over-stored market, I am going to head to the retailer that stands out and is unique.
  • Posted on: 05/09/2017

    Will online grocers redefine hotel room service?

    This is a very small opportunity -- part of experiencing a place while traveling is enjoying the local food choices. I can't imagine wanting to cook in my room (or smell the cooking of other guests wafting around the building)!
  • Posted on: 05/05/2017

    Will redirecting its focus from stores help Staples’ top and bottom lines?

    The Staples retail store experience really is, in most cases, a thing of a past era. With many of the items carried at retail now a commodity, Staples has to reinvent themselves, migrate to online more heavily and if they can differentiate their in-store experience and augment it with value-added services as opposed to simply offering commodities, they may have a shot. But if not, the retail locations may go the way of many other retail locations recently in the news.
  • Posted on: 03/22/2017

    What happens now that Alexa is on the iPhone?

    The difficulty for the user is the number of voice assistants that are available either on the same or different devices. I suspect most people get into the rhythm of how they use one or more of these and then don't deviate much as they develop patterns of use. For instance, I use Alexa all over the house with Echo devices, but use Google Assistant on my Android phone (and there is an app that allows Alexa to sit on my Android already, but I don't use it much). Having said all this, having Alexa on as many devices as possible furthers Amazon's goal of selling more to you no matter where you are or what technology you are using!
  • Posted on: 03/21/2017

    Why is the U.S. so bad at airport retailing?

    Retailing in U.S. airports is subpar in most regards. One area that really needs help in many airports are the "grab & go" food choices. How about some quality offerings that taste good as opposed to the cardboard bread sandwiches with wilted lettuce and cheese that isn't cheese. While one can argue whether or not we need more luxury stores in airports, everyone needs to eat!
  • Posted on: 03/13/2017

    Are retailers ‘blind’ to digital marketing’s flaws?

    In the supermarket sector retailers are mixing the various forms of marketing, digital and traditional, to various degrees with larger retailers generally engaging in more of a variety. However, many retailers have been slow to come to the party in this sector so I don't think they are embracing digital at the expense of traditional for the most part at this point. It is important to look forward and develop the right blend of marketing tools for the present AND for the future in order to remain relevant. In some cases this will generate solid ROI and in others it will be experimental.
  • Posted on: 03/10/2017

    Can calls for food transparency be answered digitally?

    Honestly, this is a no brainer. While the percentage of customers interested in the information may vary by product or category, consumers are demanding more transparency and information about the food they are eating. This is an easy way to provide it digitally with minimal impact to the product packaging.
  • Posted on: 03/07/2017

    Will using Uber for home deliveries work for Kroger?

    Having been directly involved in assessing home shopping and delivery projects in the past, several considerations come to mind here. How does the retailer ensure food safety standards during the transport of the food by Uber? What happens if no one is home when the delivery arrives? What is the image of the retailer when an Uber driver pulls up and is rude to the shopper? Is this a cost effective delivery method? There are more questions than answers at this point in my view. It's great to try innovative approaches but retailers better have answers for all the practical concerns.
  • Posted on: 03/03/2017

    Will VR/AR keep consumers out of stores?

    Personally, I love using VR tech. However, there are several factors that will inhibit the growth of this technology in retailing for a while. The first issue is mass adoption -- being familiar with VR doesn't mean it is mainstream and the cost and computing requirements are still prohibitive to many. First, yes you can use the Samsung Gear VR headset but it overheats after a period of time so it just doesn't lend itself to more intensive use over time. Second, some categories will lend themselves better to this than others. And third, it is going to take the impetus of a major retailer (think Amazon) with a large enough base of shoppers to implement this in a way that is compelling. So while the idea of VR is great, without mass adoption and an experience to drive it this will take a while to surpass other forms of shopping.
  • Posted on: 03/01/2017

    Will the AWS outage make retailers think twice about cloud?

    What was particularly interesting was how even Amazon was perplexed at how to communicate with customers. My wife had bought a Kindle book and it went through three times as three different orders. When I called, at the tail-end of the day, the customer service rep at Amazon said that they were upgrading their system and asked if I could please call back in two hours. Really? Of course they had to put some spin on it but the whole world knows there is a much bigger problem than some upgrades! This event does indeed paint a picture of some much bigger vulnerabilities.
  • Posted on: 02/28/2017

    Will Walmart’s price push pull customers away from Aldi?

    Aldi is focused primarily on private label at an attractive price point. In addition to some locations that are neighborhood stores, they have been locating as near as possible to big box/mass retailers for decades and living off the fact that people will shop them for certain items and go somewhere else for the rest of their basket. As of late they have been sharpening their produce quality in a much easier to shop store size while maintaining good price points as they try to attract more business.On the other hand, Walmart still appears to struggle with out-of-stock conditions (especially in produce) and is going to have to really improve price perception on national brands to compete with the stronger private label perception at Aldi. Neither of these formats offer much in the way of service and I don't expect that to become a competitive differentiator here.
  • Posted on: 01/19/2017

    Will a movie and gourmet food combo drive crowds to the mall?

    While this could be a winning approach to get more people to the mall (because they want to go to the movies), I am doubtful that this will boost retail spending in the mall. While enhanced entertainment and new offerings might make the mall more interesting or engaging IF someone is looking for those specific things, it doesn't mean that people will shop at the retailers located there more or most often.

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