PROFILE

Lee Peterson

EVP Brand, Strategy & Design, WD Partners

After over 30 years as a merchant at Limited Brands, a retailer and a retail consultant, Lee brings an innovative approach to strategic assessment and brand development across diverse industries. He is particularly in tune with cultural trends, consumer demographics, and buying behavior. This experience gives Lee a well-rounded and informed approach to brand development and designing customer-focused retail and restaurant experiences. Lee wholeheartedly believes that stores must perform for the retailers, as well as consumers.

At WD Partners, he leads an experienced group of creative retail designers and strategists working on brand and prototype development for such clients as Wal-Mart, The North Face, Starbucks, Gatorade, Red Bull, Best Buy, New Balance, Safeway, Home Depot, Culver’s, Bob Evans, Whole Foods Market, eMart, Co-op Mart, Mimi’s Cafe and LensCrafters. Lee also leads WD’s marketing team which produces their web site, white papers and all marketing communications.

His comments have appeared in The Washington Post, The New York Times, Forbes, Fast Company, and on American Public Media’s Marketplace, as well as in industry magazines such as VM+SD, Brandweek, Chain Leader, QSR, Restaurants & Institutions, Nation’s Restaurant News, and Chain Store Age. Lee is also a frequent speaker on retail issues and trends. He is currently serving on the editorial board of VM+SD, a retail design trade magazine.  He is also an avid cyclist, outdoor enthusiast and lover of Nantucket Island.

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Chicago born, globally educated, 30+ years as a retailer and retail consultant, hammerhead cyclist
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  • Posted on: 08/18/2017

    What do consumers want when using AR or VR to shop?

    Depends on the brand. The idea of Home Depot having VR to show you how your room would look in a certain color, or Best Buy having VR for gaming -- that works. But for a retailer like Abercrombie or Urban Outfitters or even Apple? It doesn't make sense.Part of the illusion retailers have about digital retail integration is that they have to have every new toy that comes along because it's hot. This is not so. For some brands, why would you want to put a customer in a fantasy world in your store that they can very well be in at home? Why not make your store a fantasy world (or at least so interesting that consumers want to be in it) and keep them conscious -- you know, feeling your brand? Re: AR/VR, tread lightly. This is a brand decision.
  • Posted on: 08/17/2017

    Is Walmart on an unstoppable run?

    Walmart did the right thing a long time ago: told The Street that things wouldn't be so rosy while they re-invested in their longevity. They also literally came out and said, "we're going to compete" (with Amazon, or course). They drew a line in the sand and said, "we're not going away and you're not going to crush us like you did to others." That had to be SO motivating for all associates, executives and thought leaders under their flag. "We're going to fight!" That was the message.When the smoke clears, Walmart will be there. The ultra-competitive spirit Sam Walton instilled in his culture still prevails today, and Walmart should be lauded for it. While others are circling the wagons, Walmart greased up the PR and innovation machines and is headed towards the new retail reality. Bravo, Bentonville, bravo.
  • Posted on: 08/16/2017

    Will more promos fix Dick’s Sporting Goods pricing challenge?

    How's that strategy working out for J.C. Penney? It's not only promotions and price which, yeah, are part of the issue. It's also cluttered stores, a disorganized and clunky website and an over-reliance on vendors rather than their own brand -- to name just a few missing or broken pieces.I think their recent commercials were/are the best sports-oriented spots I've ever seen. Totally capturing the emotion of playing sports, no matter who or where you are. But none of that has been translated to store or web or social very well. Again, promotions will provide a Band-Aid, but connecting on all levels across the entire CX, and especially in the emotional zone, is the answer long term.
  • Posted on: 08/15/2017

    Will Timberland climb to greater heights behind new experiential concept?

    No matter what happens with this, at least they're trying. Between this effort and the innovative endeavors by Yeti, Bonobos, UO Spaces, Muji, etc., I do believe we're getting closer to the proverbial "store of the future."
  • Posted on: 08/15/2017

    How should vendors respond to Walmart’s reluctance to raise prices?

    Vendors need to realize the absolute nuclear war Walmart is in with Amazon. Pure survival of the fittest. As partners, not vendors, they're going to have to bite the bullet on a lot of things, just like Walmart, until the smoke clears. Which, honestly, may not be for years to come.It's a consumer paradise right now, not vendor heaven. Suck it up. Get smarter. Figure it out. Work together. It's your only hope.
  • Posted on: 08/08/2017

    Why is big food turning to pop-up stores to tell brand stories?

    Given the fact that CPG companies will soon no longer be able to simply market to customers and may have to figure out how to sell their brand to an algorithm (Alexa), they had BETTER start to do things like this.CPG brands must figure out the DTC equation. There's an AI sea-change about to happen and to test pop ups or showroom stores or even permanent bricks locations should be the tip of the iceberg.
  • Posted on: 08/03/2017

    Are retailers squandering store traffic?

    I'm thinking the opposite. That stores need to figure out how to improve online conversion vs. in-store conversion. More and more, retailers should start to think of their physical spaces as the optimal brand touch points, where you emotionally engage humans with the real power of your brand and subsequently drive online purchase when the consumer feels like it. Not just places to put stuff on a shelf and try to get them to buy on the spot. Samsung 837, Yeti, Nike, UO Spaces; these are the stores of the future.Face it, it's SO much easier to buy online on your own time, why on earth would you continue to fight the way people truly want to purchase? Functional/convenient: online. Emotional/human: stores.
  • Posted on: 08/02/2017

    Should user-generated content move beyond product pages?

    I'm going to vote no on this, even though we've done research that shows that to young people, a peer review is more important than touch and feel as well as same-day delivery. Reason for the no? Customers can only tell you what they know. It takes a merchant or visionary to give/tell them something they'll like in the future. And the same holds true with marketing content. Would a customer have come up with "Just Do It"? What's the Henry Ford quote? "If I would've asked my customers what they wanted, I would've given them a faster horse."Where UGC is sorely lacking though is in-store. Why aren't peer reviews more available in the physical environment? The only retailer doing that now is Amazon. That should tell you something.
  • Posted on: 07/31/2017

    Has Amazon created another high-draw shopping model with its Treasure Trucks?

    The greatest PR machine in the world rests just past these two huge biospheres in the north part of downtown Seattle: Amazon's new HQ building. Idea after idea, press release after press release, none of which talk about traditional issues like profit or revenue. What the machine talks about is drones, trucks, blimps, AI, pick up centers, packages in trunks of cars ... in other words: innovation. And the money flows in. A thousand bucks a share.Attention corporations: get a clue; this is the new model. Talk to investors about how you're changing the world by trying radical new things. Have the guts to bring in the new and forget the past. Don't worry so much about results, just keep investing. Can you do that? Are they on board?It's not about the trucks, it's about a new measurement for value.
  • Posted on: 07/14/2017

    Will Walmart win back-to-school with click and collect services?

    We've done two studies three years apart on what digital retail integration tools consumers want to see the most. What came in number one both times? Buy online, pick up in-store. "Put it in my trunk" pickup, not "wander through the store looking for the pick up station" pickup. Walmart is the only retailer I've seen that's addressing that the right way with freestanding units you pull up to. It should help them tremendously (Target, where are you with this?) as they continue to roll them out.
  • Posted on: 07/13/2017

    Should the Amazon/Whole Foods merger worry national brands?

    Talk about a match made in heaven, especially for Whole Foods. It's actually very angel investor-like. Now Whole Foods' 365 can get the proliferation it needs without activist investors trying to denigrate the brand and turn over the reigns to former Kroger execs or some other crime for short-term profit.I think Bezos "gets" the mission of Whole Foods, which is to bring healthy food to everyone. And Amazon is the vehicle to help them attain that mission. Before it was through their limited amount of stores only. Now, forget about it!I love it. I can hardly wait to have a Whole Foods healthy dinner delivered to me within the hour by a drone.
  • Posted on: 07/12/2017

    Why do so many people love shopping at Ace Hardware?

    Simple answer: one-on-one customer service. At least at the Ace near me I walk in, someone greets me, I tell them what I need, they take me to the area where my products would be, ask me if I need anything else and say thank you. Can you imagine that? Compare that to the experience in a big box DIY store, where you walk in, wander around (at least I do) for 20 minutes lost, stumble on what you need then walk a mile back out to your car.Ace's big box competitors are set up for pros. Ace is for the little guy, especially dolts like me who don't know what they're doing. It's good that they're being rewarded for creating what was once commonplace: the neighborhood hardware store.
  • Posted on: 07/11/2017

    Will Prime Day give Amazon an insurmountable advantage online?

    It's funny to me to read so much here about profits. Haven't we all figured out the new Wall Street model? Growth and market domination at all costs, profits be damned. Profits? Who cares? Profit is sooooo 1990s!On the serious side, Prime Day, Alexa, Dash, drones, same-day delivery, Whole Foods, Prime membership ... it's not just one thing that makes Amazon great, it's all of the above.
  • Posted on: 07/05/2017

    Will Amazon’s Prime Day set a new sales record?

    What's most brilliant about Prime Day is the timing. Taking a time of year when shopping is generally NOT top of mind and bringing it to the forefront was a stroke of genius, whether they knew it or not. It's like the old "Blue Ocean" strategy idea: go where they're not. And in July, retailers are so focused on bringing in new fall goods and just dumping the old stuff that the notion of have a blow-out extravaganza across the board seemed to catch everyone off guard. Except the consumer.Should be their biggest day ever, hands down.
  • Posted on: 06/29/2017

    Has CVS gone too far with its health kick?

    CVS is definitely on the right track. What strategic avenue is there that is better than human health? Sure, the category is broad, but if it helps you make bold decisions like getting rid of tobacco it's absolutely working. Plus, "health" includes so many key factors that are important to all consumers now; fitness, healthy eating/living, health care, urgent care, pharmacy and on and on. This is the best thing CVS ever did in my opinion.PLUS, think of their competition. What do they stand for? Cigarettes, booze, Slurpees and the occasional flagship store? As they say in sports, no contest.

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