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: 10/19/2020

    Should local book stores be taking on Amazon?

    While I absolutely want the local independent booksellers to succeed, I think tone and focus about how they differentiate is important here. I'd rather hear about what they bring to their community in a positive way, rather than the negative. Like anything else, those who can bridge the gap of where consumers are headed are likely to be the most successful, not those who wish for days gone by in terms of their business model.
  • Posted on: 10/07/2020

    Will a new round of panic buying empty grocery store shelves?

    In our research earlier this year, shoppers in most categories were increasing what they are keeping on hand. Whether this turns into another round of full-fledged panic buying and hoarding versus simply keeping more on hand, especially in the more shelf-stable categories, remains to be seen. But retailers would be wise to be prepared and product limits, SKU rationalization, shelf rationalization and other careful evaluation makes a great deal of sense given the learnings from the past year and the unknown over the near term.
  • Posted on: 10/01/2020

    Will Amazon’s palm reader reveal the future of retail payment?

    I think it will continue to grow at some pace, but one issue I think is important to many is how many different entities do you want to share biometric data with, given the absence of one central repository (not that it would be better or more secure, but again, how many times do you want to share it and with whom)? Plus, as someone pointed out, there is a big difference between using your biometric data on your own device and sharing it with corporations and other entities.
  • Posted on: 09/23/2020

    COVID-19 may push retailers to use voice assistants instead of touch screens

    While contactless everything is hot at the moment due to the pandemic, I'm not sure voice recognition tech is where it needs to be for this to be more widely adopted. My Google and Amazon devices are wrong so often that I can't imagine this is where it needs to be yet. Plus, in public places, privacy is also a concern. I'd rather just use contactless connectivity from my phone with another device and leave it at that until the AI is more accurate.
  • Posted on: 09/21/2020

    Can Trader Joe’s continue thriving without delivery and curbside pickup?

    While I understand the "if it isn't broken, don't fix it" argument, and Trader Joe's does have a successful format, I still don't think it wise to just ignore e-commerce. Look at how you can augment the success rather than just not engaging in a new opportunity.
  • Posted on: 09/17/2020

    Amazon Fresh grocery store opens touting low prices and cashier-free checkout

    It will be interesting to see how Amazon does with all of the touchpoints of the in-store customer journey. Our research shows they lead the way with the online journey touchpoints — can they replicate that in-store and have they mined all of the learnings they can from Whole Foods to get to this point? As someone who loves tech, I think those offerings are spot on, but the big question is, can they scale this up and make it a competitive force by doing everything else right?
  • Posted on: 09/10/2020

    Is it okay for retailers to ease up on cleaning their stores?

    No -- the practice of cleaning is now an expectation, at least until the end of this pandemic, and moving away from that will be a negative in the minds of shoppers.
  • Posted on: 09/01/2020

    Grocers shift gears as stimulus stalemate tightens consumer spending

    Looking at value for money spent is going to become more important as consumers tighten spending. Of course, there are a couple of unknowns -- will this fall season with the pandemic still ongoing, coupled with influenza, alter consumer willingness to go out versus eat at home? Will certain pockets of the country fare worse or better? Carefully looking at the playbook and keeping a pulse on local market conditions is a must at this juncture.
  • Posted on: 08/28/2020

    Will hiring locals help stores drive better results?

    It's a great idea that will require a commitment by the retailer to pull off since there are varying degrees of available population around different locations, making it more challenging in some places. The upside, though, of hiring people that know and care about their local community should be a big positive, as long as the retailer does a good job with the blocking and tackling of treating employees well.
  • Posted on: 08/24/2020

    COVID-19 will redefine the meaning of Christmas creep in 2020

    Not surprisingly, this holiday season will be very different. Many shoppers in the past wanted to move away from an earlier and earlier start to the season. For retailers, there really isn't a choice this time around but to allow extra time for shipping and delivery given how big e-commerce will be this year. Things will also be bigger than experiences this year given the limited availability of experiences.
  • Posted on: 08/20/2020

    Has the local movement become a way of life for Americans?

    With many more people working at home and going out less, it all comes down to how someone defines local. While some take that to mean independent retailers, others simply mean "closer to me" or "in my city" whether referring to a chain or an independently-owned business. While there was some definite movement towards more unique (and local) retailers pre-pandemic, it has certainly accelerated in this environment. However, depending on the sector, just being local may or may not be enough to survive if the business relies on a lot of daytime traffic in areas now experiencing much less traffic.
  • Posted on: 08/19/2020

    Walmart keeps growing and growing and …

    "Officials confirmed widespread speculation that a subscription-based program, expected to be known as Walmart+, was on the way but they continued to hold back much detail. CEO Doug McMillon said the membership program would follow in the wake of benefits the company realized from previous initiatives to integrate its online food and general merchandise businesses through app consolidation. The program would build on the $98-per-year Delivery Unlimited program launched late last year." It will be interesting to see where things go with this subscription service - what else can they bundle into it to create consumer interest?
  • Posted on: 08/17/2020

    Smart home spending to take a temporary hit before surging

    As someone who has used multiple smart home platforms, there are a couple of issues. One, most platforms do require someone to be at least inquisitive about technology to make them work given the amount of issues that crop up. Two, the longevity of platforms remains an issue with no clear leader. Wink faltered, other platforms (and numerous devices) died, and Smartthings is now changing apps, driving some customers away. Finally, a big part of my use was for when I was away, which is, right now, not often due to the pandemic. So, my interest right now (as I am sure is the case for many others) has waned lately. It will take a clear leader that people believe will be there long term, with an easy to use platform to propel this forward.
  • Posted on: 08/12/2020

    Should marketers keep masks out of commercials?

    In the supermarket space it would seem wise to show masks. In our recent study, 68 percent of shoppers indicated that a store providing masks and/or gloves for employees was a highly effective safety measure.
  • Posted on: 08/11/2020

    Will anything slow Aldi and Dollar General’s roll if COVID-19 didn’t?

    Pre-pandemic these formats were already making significant inroads, really since the last economic downturn. Aldi, for example, at that time made some wise decisions in the direction they took coming through and out of that time period. Our research back in 2019 showed Aldi with a higher NPS and a leading value for money spent score over Walmart and supermarkets. If anything, their momentum will continue to build through and beyond the pandemic.

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