How To 'Make It Matter' At NRF's 2024 Big Show

new york city skyline at dusk

As the annual NRF Big Show draws closer, industry stakeholders are being called to ‘Make it matter’ (the show’s official message for 2024). The annual Big Show ‘matters’ to all retail stakeholders: it sets the tone and defines the trends for the year ahead. The show gathers 450 speakers in 170 sessions and hosts a staggering 40,000 attendees. What’s more, with over a thousand keen exhibitors, it can all feel a bit overwhelming to navigate. 

So, if you’re attending the show, this blog will outline what you should have on your agenda to ‘make it matter’! From world-famous keynote speakers to a re-energized focus on AI, the 2024 event promises to be value-packed. 

STAY AHEAD: 2024 Retail Trends Worth Having On Your Radar

Celebrity Keynotes: Where The “Magic” Happens

The 2024 show boasts a roster of eye-wateringly famous celebrities. You can expect to see keynotes by NBA Hall of Famer and member of the original Dream Team, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, and renowned actress and talk show host Drew Barrymore. These celebrity keynotes are a unique opportunity to learn from some of the world’s most famous faces. 

Swapping Basketball For The Boardroom

Learn more about how Earvin “Magic” Johnson established his global business empire. This talk will be a masterclass in entrepreneurship, tenacity, and the power of brand partnerships and community-building in today’s highly competitive environment. One of Johnson’s key focuses has been the understanding and reshaping of urban communities as a means to uplift often-neglected groups. As consumers demand more ethical end products and business practices, this kind of knowledge-sharing will become more important – so be sure to attend. 

When: Monday, January 15, 8:15 am–9:00 am

Balancing Innovation And Premium Design

Drew Barrymore is set to discuss her appliance and cookware line, Beautiful. Considering the budget pinch most shoppers feel, developing a purposeful and affordable product line seems more appropriate than ever. In this session with Shae Hong, Founder and CEO of Made By Gather, Drew will address the intersection of innovation and premium design in all she produces. Brands will increasingly be expected to produce products that feel luxurious, but don’t come in at a luxury price point, making this a worthwhile session to sit in on. 

When: Tuesday, January 16, 2:30 pm–3:00 pm

👀 Insider tip: These celebrity sessions are extremely popular! I recommend arriving sooner rather than later to ensure you find a space in the venue. Arrive 10-15 minutes early to get a seat in the hall.

Big Expo, Big Ideas

The Exhibitor Big Ideas sessions allow exhibitors to discuss their offerings and how they’re helping shape the industry's future. These insightful presentations are a great way to get a snapshot of the products and services on show and learn about case studies, upcoming trends, product demos, and innovations. 

There are multiple sessions each day of the show, so you can sit in on a few no matter when you attend. Best of all, these sessions are short. Each presentation is scheduled for only half an hour, meaning you can easily pack a handful into your agenda and still have plenty of time to explore the main exhibition floor. The stages are also scattered throughout the venue, making them incredibly accessible. 

Exhibitor Big Ideas are included in both the Full Conference and Expo Only Passes, so no matter which one you choose, you can take advantage of these invaluable sessions. So, unlike the keynotes, you don’t need special passes to attend these chats. This thought leadership is accessible to all who are interested. 

👀 Insider tip: Be sure to attend the MarketDial Big Ideas presentation where we’ll contribute to the discussion alongside PVH. When? Sunday, January 14, 4:00 pm–4:30 pm. Where: Stage 1, Level 1. 

Meet People Who Matter Most

The Big Show is known for hosting the who’s who of retail. Make your attendance matter by rubbing shoulders with them! A couple of events are designed specifically for networking, so be sure to make the most of them. 

Make time for:

  • Donut Dunks: Rise and shine for pre-keynote coffee time! You can enjoy complimentary coffee and donuts each morning and connect with like-minded attendees at the keynote session venue. 

  • Retail Store Tours: These retailer-only guided walking tours show New York City’s most cutting-edge retail spaces created by global retail leaders. Learn how retailers use their understanding of changing behaviors and technology to enhance the customer experience.

  • NRF Supply Chain 360 Summit: This special one-day program is built specifically for retailers with supply chain, distribution, and reverse logistics responsibilities. This new addition to the program is bound to offer unparalleled connection opportunities. 

  • RetailNext Fireside Chats: Swing by booth #4657 on the main exhibition floor for data presentations, live product demonstrations, and panel discussions with some of retail’s most exciting stakeholders! This curated program demonstrates the power of in-store analytics and aims to connect retailers with solutions providers. 

  • Opening Party: The official opening party is great for meeting fellow attendees ahead of the show. The ‘SPICE & ICE’ theme is perfect for a chilly New York soiree!

New Tech Matters 

The NRF Innovation Lab displays brand-new technologies, featuring the latest advancements in artificial intelligence, augmented reality, machine learning, facial recognition, robotics, and more. This interactive exhibit keeps up-to-date with the latest trends in retail transformation and demonstrates what retail offers now and in the future. 

Considering how tech is increasingly becoming inseparable from retail in all its forms, it's definitely worth the visit. Modern retail places tech at the forefront of store operations, marketing, and design. This is an excellent opportunity to make your research into new technologies matter.

The NRF Big Show is set to be one for the books, with thousands of passionate attendees networking, learning, and connecting. We’re proud to be exhibiting at the show and welcome you to drop by our booth (#4657) for a chat. We will conduct live demos, host thought-provoking presentations with industry leaders, and run exciting giveaways. We look forward to seeing you there! 


About the author:

Headshot: Ashton Kirsten

Ashton Kirsten, Marketing Communications Coordinator, RetailNext

Ashton holds a Master's Degree in English and is passionate about starting conversations through impactful content and executing data-driven creative strategies. She is based in Johannesburg, South Africa, where she can be found reading, writing and researching.

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