Shop Talk: Innovators in Retail Panel Recap


LEFT TO RIGHT: Hillary France, Melanie Masarin, Lauren Danziger, Jonathan Krieger, and Katie Hunt

Since Brand Assembly's inception, we’ve leveraged our team's collective knowledge to offer our community of emerging designers tools and resources that help take their businesses to the next level. As we've covered in our stories here on The Assemblist, we do this in a variety of ways from our trade shows to our co-working spaces, and in the case of this recap, our educational (and inspiring!) event programming. As such, we were thrilled to kick off 2019 on a high note featuring an evening of shop talk with some of the best and brightest minds in modern retail.

On a snowy February evening, we gathered our community downtown at 399 Lafayette — a beautiful experiential event space in the heart of NoHo which was graciously provided by Jonathan Krieger of Retail Worx (one of our featured panelists)! Before the discussion, attendees enjoyed libations from our friends at Usual Wines and Kin Euphorics and delicious food from Taco Dumbo. Shortly after, the panel kicked off and was led by our very own Hillary France with insights from Jonathan along with Katie Hunt of SHOWFIELDS, Lauren Danziger of Industry City, and Melanie Masarin (formerly) of Dig Inn and Glossier.

From the importance of finding a balance between experiential and digital marketing to creating sensory experiences, here are a few of the major takeaways from our conversation:


The digital landscape has empowered brands of all sizes to make their mark in the modern business environment, and our panelists contend that digital will continue to be leveraged as a tool to create brands faster (whether they consider themselves to be digitally-native or not). The conversation also touched on the fact that while brands will continue to establish different paths to the discovery, there will also be a shift to craft strategies that are even more considerate of the ways online and offline can be symbiotic — especially as the tools and technology become more enhanced.


With access to information and discovery, another interesting point that arose touched on the importance of curating experiences that are conscious and inclusive of ALL demographics. Jonathan Krieger contended that innovative retail derives from making your brand "universally relevant" across age groups, location, and other relevant factors. Tapping into this idea also enables more opportunities for brands to champion inclusivity among their customers, and in turn, make them collectively feel relevant — and heard.


Speaking of inclusivity and community, Melanie Masarin and Lauren Danziger touched on the importance of brand collaboration and activism. Modern consumers have so many choices of where they spend their time and money, and getting to the core of what drives one's business will heavily inform their in-store experience. Furthermore, the importance of building a community with like-minded brands and neighboring companies can play a significant role in helping smaller brands attract customers and create retail experiences with a true point of view and purpose.


Taking the above point into consideration, our panelists were in collective agreement that consumers are more discerning than ever, and innovative retail experiences must be mindful of this. The discussion indicated that connection and hospitality are key pillars in this approach and that basic human needs are enduring throughout the decades. Katie Hunt shared that while "the bar is higher now" brand builders must still touch on these same human emotions, which ultimately serves as a foundation for brands to build memorable experiences that support universal and timeless values.

The above points are just scratching the surface when it comes to the ongoing discussion around innovative retail, but we hope these ideas help you when mapping out your experiential marketing and retail planning for the year ahead. Stay tuned for more industry-related events and follow us on social media @brandassembly for announcements regarding exclusive panels, workshops, and more gatherings both in NYC and LA!

Thank you again to our partners! Follow them on social: @usualwines @kineuphorics @tacodumbo @retailworx