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: 07/30/2020

    Is a drive-through-only store the shape of things to come for Wawa?

    During the pandemic this format will certainly be welcome by those who don't want to go inside a store. Post-pandemic, it still has solid appeal based on convenience and speed. Integrating with tech solutions to order ahead of time and contactless payment, this could result in a real interesting format!
  • Posted on: 07/29/2020

    How can retailers differentiate curbside delivery?

    In grocery, our latest data shows that more than half of online shoppers are using click and collect for fulfillment, and 36% of shoppers surveyed used online grocery shopping for the first time with any provider or service. While at the beginning of the pandemic it was a rush to get things set up or scaled up, now retailers need to migrate all of the learnings of those earlier days to a well-honed, clearly signed, and streamlined service. With the timeline unknown for coming out on the other side of the pandemic, and with some shoppers enjoying this newfound service, retailers should continue to optimize moving forward.
  • Posted on: 07/28/2020

    Has retail adaptation become more about survival than competitive edge?

    In the supermarket space, it is going to be imperative that supermarkets "put their eggs in both baskets" as online shopping has grown by leaps and bounds with the magnitude of "stickiness" still to be determined longer-term, and at the same time, many other shoppers want to get back in the store more often but want stores to have clear safety protocols in place before doing so (and some shoppers simply won't feel safe until there is a vaccine). It's largely about business survival at the moment but simultaneously trying to innovate in ways that supports that survival.
  • Posted on: 07/27/2020

    Retailers need to reorganize like a 21st century business

    Simplify. Start thinking like a customer. How do you want to shop when you shop? Your mom or dad? Your siblings? Your spouse? When a shopper interacts with a retailer, it should be a fully integrated experience whether it is online, in-store, click and collect or delivery. Shoppers simply look at the brand or banner, not all of the exceptions or differences between how they are shopping on a given occasion.
  • Posted on: 07/23/2020

    Best Buy connects strong sales to frontline worker performance

    Best Buy has done a fabulous job of investing in their frontline associates. They were prepared for the pandemic and made good decisions throughout. After years of not shopping them, I've found myself back there more often over the last year and been pleasantly surprised at the changes.
  • Posted on: 07/20/2020

    How will digital transform trade shows?

    Out of necessity, many shows have moved online in the current environment. This has resulted in lots of experimentation and trialing new ways of conducting these shows and the related educational sessions. I think there will be much learning of what works and what doesn't as a result of this time period, and the next normal will combine those elements together in a hybrid approach. For some, it will be back to the trade show floor, but for others it might be attending (or presenting) education sessions remotely. It doesn't have to be one way or the other -- let's take the best of both worlds!
  • Posted on: 07/17/2020

    Is retail’s contactless future here now?

    Yes, the pandemic dramatically accelerated what was already gradually happening. By the time we are to the "next normal," contactless payment and other tools will become just another part of the experience.
  • Posted on: 07/16/2020

    How murky has COVID-19 made retail data?

    Since there is no defined pandemic end-point at this juncture, it is hard to know if this is a blip in a longer-term cycle or whether there will be a significant period of time that more permanently alters shopper purchasing behavior in new ways in the next normal. For now, data provides a valuable window into current behaviors, helping the nimble adjust and pivot.
  • Posted on: 07/13/2020

    Will Boomers and Gen X keep shopping online post-pandemic?

    This isn't just an easy "yes" or "no" answer nor is it a one or the other choice. Our new research shows that 55 percent of Gen X and 46 percent of Boomers have shopped online for groceries five+ times. They are also the most satisfied (4.43 on a five-point scale for Boomers and 4.35 for Gen X). Many Boomers (37 percent) and Gen Xers (52 percent) report shopping both online and in-store in the last 30 days. Finally, 53 percent of Gen X shoppers and 41 percent of Boomer shoppers expect to purchase more online in the next 12 months while at the same time 17 percent of Boomers and 12 percent of Gen Xers expect to shop less online for groceries in the next 12 months. So all of this indicates to me that there will be a magnitude of retention of new online business while, yes, some will go back to in-store shopping. I wouldn't dismiss the growth that is happening in online grocery and expect that the old normal is the next normal.
  • Posted on: 07/08/2020

    Will Walmart’s best shoppers ditch Amazon Prime for Walmart+?

    If all a shopper was looking for was grocery delivery, Walmart+ might be enough as their growth in online grocery has clearly outpaced Amazon as of late. However, Amazon Prime has many ancillary benefits that offer much more value than Walmart+. Won't be enough extra value here for many Amazon Prime shoppers to defect!
  • Posted on: 07/07/2020

    Can remotely managed mobile-marts safely bring groceries to areas in need?

    There is certainly an application for this type of concept in many areas that currently are food deserts and/or not served well by the existing corner store with high prices. Conceptually, it sounds like a great idea, but there are some practical considerations of an unstaffed operation -- how are out-of-stocks monitored, what kind of anti-vandalism measures are in place, and what happens when something doesn't dispense as it should, just to name a few things to consider. Plus, do the economics allow for competitive pricing, yet still cover all the operational costs? It will be interesting to see how these types of innovations roll forward!
  • Posted on: 07/06/2020

    Has COVID-19 exacerbated online return challenges?

    Retailers have to think about the various friction points in the return process and where things can be easily handled while still carefully contemplating COVID-19 ramifications. For example, I had a couple product issues with an online grocery store purchase and the retailer simply credited me and didn't require me to bring the product back. Easy, but granted a low dollar ring, so not worth it on their part either. On the other hand, my son bought a VR headset that was defective out of the box (after buying it through a click and collect process). When he called the retailer they refused to take it back stating their policy. However he was able to go back to the store and the local people replaced it and provided the kind of service that he expected.
  • Posted on: 07/02/2020

    Amazon’s traffic is way up, but others are doing even better during the pandemic

    Our latest study, the "2020 Online & In-Store Grocery Shopping Study" out this week, found that supermarkets were the main beneficiaries of a surge in online grocery shopping during the pandemic, growing from 22% in our previous study to 34% of shoppers indicating they most recently used a supermarket for online grocery shopping. Walmart held the top position at 40% (up from 37% in our last update). However, Amazon fell down from 29% in our last study to 14% during the pandemic (keep in mind, only for food & grocery shopping). The Amazon decline during the pandemic may have been, in part, due to Amazon’s focus on providing essential items and lowering the priority of other items provided through their platform. This may have resulted in a change in how shoppers used Amazon to shop for food or grocery items. Of course, future studies will illustrate whether this represents a shift with longer-term ramifications or a temporary drop, reflective of the pandemic timeframe.
  • Posted on: 06/29/2020

    Tanger Outlets brings personal shopper services online

    Whether or not this is a large magnitude service into the future, it is certainly relevant at the moment and, like online grocery shopping, will likely retain some percentage of shoppers post-pandemic.
  • Posted on: 06/26/2020

    What can retailers do for 2020’s graduates?

    I think what Nikki said is key, "the moment has passed ... it's starting to feel more like salt in the wound." I have older kids, one who graduated from law school and the other double majored in computer science and statistics, and also graduated this year (although is doing one more year for his MS). It wasn't the graduation either of them expected, but they have moved on -- one is now doing a remote internship and the other is gainfully employed. They hardly want to be reminded of what could have been or wasn't at this point, and I doubt any gift or gimmick would resonate well!

Contact Brian

  • Apply to be a BrainTrust Panelist

  • Please briefly describe your qualifications — specifically, your expertise and experience in the retail industry.
  • By submitting this form, I give you permission to forward my contact information to designated members of the RetailWire staff.

    See RetailWire's privacy policy for more information about what data we collect and how it is used.