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
  • Posted on: 04/21/2017

    Are Millennials and Gen Z more about convenience or price when they shop?

    Boy, there's a lot of "duh" in that study, eh? Snark aside, it is interesting talking to people under 30 about price in that life stage comes into play in a big way. Millennial and Generation Z categorizations don't apply as much as where they are at in life: high school, college, new workforce member, married, married with kids, all those "stages" are SO much different. You see price mattering more as they ascend that ladder. It is great that you can comp in a second, but it might not matter.Interesting to note on all this: AI is not such a big deal in moving people under 30 to purchase. Kids don't talk to apps, they use them. It seems from initial conversations that AI is way more interesting to older consumers. So the latest/most high-tech seems to have done a generational reverse. At least for now.
  • Posted on: 04/20/2017

    Is personalized packaging going mainstream?

    I'm with Ken on this. I would think regionalized packaging would be more relevant. Magazines like Sports Illustrated have been taking advantage of that for a while now: Alabama on the cover for the South, Oregon on the cover for the West, etc. To Ken's point, what's going on now with customized packaging on CG products ("Zesty!" Snickers) seems trite.
  • Posted on: 04/19/2017

    Can McD’s succeed with commercials that don’t mention its name?

    Thanks for clarifying! I saw this ad and thought it was a Coke ad but wondered what the heck it was afterwards (and during as well). It's a nice/innovative try but, frankly, I can't imagine for a minute the 18 to 24 demo (McDonald's target) actually paying attention to what's being said. It's kind of serious and definitely slow -- two traits that are killers for that audience.
  • Posted on: 04/18/2017

    Are consumers’ AI fears rational?

    Afraid of losing personal data at this stage of the game? Are you kidding? If that's still actually a concern of yours, I hope you never bought a smart phone, a computer, a fit bit, a watch, or a digital TV. (See also: Snowden Files) Good luck to all 10 of you!I had a friend of mine tell me last week that he was talking about painting a few rooms and never once did so online, only in conversation in his house. Next day, Benjamin Moore ads started showing up on every site he looked at. SO, worry not, my fellow consumers. Either get off the grid altogether or enjoy the help from Benjamin Moore!
  • Posted on: 04/17/2017

    Are outlet malls an outlier?

    There's definitely some good old fashioned consumer excitement involved with outlet malls -- deal hunting, as it were, but it's a limited proposition IMO. Ex: Columbus Ohio has a metro area population of 1.4 million. There's now 2 outlet centers just outside of town, both north and south. Done. Any more would cannibalize the other. Matter of fact, it's probably underway right now for the first one opened as people from the opposite side of town no longer need to drive that far.Also, some day, and that day may not come for a while, the consumer is going to figure out that most goods at an "Outlet" center are made for the outlet center. I.e. cheap stuff, from cheap factories for cheap prices. Once they figure out that they're probably better off going to a Walmart or AMZN, the house of cards will cave. But, you know, it's taken 20 years for consumers to figure out that online shopping is WAY more convenient than store shopping, so it could be a while for outlets.
  • Posted on: 04/13/2017

    Are retail CEOs ready to ‘disagree and commit’ like Jeff Bezos?

    I think Bezos nailed it. What he's saying is what most retailers are NOT doing. That release is about staying fresh, trying things even if you think it won't work and moving fast. I absolutely love the day-one thinking as it applies to retail because it's true now more than ever. When you come to work, be prepared to think that what you thought was great yesterday is not longer even a good idea, whether it's merchandise, marketing, stores, web, customer base, whatever -- you have to be prepared for the new.Thinking like that is clearly what has them so far ahead of other retailers and poised to be a trillion dollar company. They put over five million branded AI kits in people's houses before a single retailer turned their head. I rest my case, your honor.
  • Posted on: 04/11/2017

    Would Whole Foods do better under new ownership?

    In my opinion, Whole Foods could be 1,000 stores tomorrow, easy. They are clearly the best mass "better-for-you" grocery store in the U.S. It's not even close. And better-for-you is more than just a trend at this point, it's a chosen lifestyle for millions of Americans, especially young people. And I'm not talking about organics -- it's everything, all products = better-for-you. Walmart or Kroger can do organics. It's much more than that. It's a lifestyle. And Whole Foods is a league above any other chain in that regard.So why aren't they growing by leaps and bounds? You have to ask that question, whether you're an investor or just someone who'd like a Whole Foods in their area. I'm not a fan of hostile investors as they usually muck up the works, but you do have to wonder if a good shot in the pants isn't what's needed. Guess we're about to find out.
  • Posted on: 04/10/2017

    Should the same-store sales metric be retired?

    Same-store sales comps will never go away. They just don't carry the same gravity they used to, mainly because of the huge jumps in online sales. Company comps are the real measure as that is the balance of both.Some companies will want same-store metrics to go away as they'll be a constant source of embarrassment and stock hits. Whereas other companies, like Warby and Bonobos, will use same-store comps to their advantage. But all-in-all, it's still a useful and necessary measurement.
  • Posted on: 03/31/2017

    Why is Amazon trying to convince CPG giants to go consumer direct?

    As we all know, almost 3/4 of all US consumers go to AMZN first when shopping or even searching for product on line. So guess what? Hard to imagine going to one site for toothpaste, another for paper towels, another for a t-shirt and still another for a can of soup. If I'm already on AMZN, why not just do it all in one place? Oh, I get it now.
  • Posted on: 03/29/2017

    Does Amazon need bricks to make its online grocery business click?

    Walmart's already doing this, by the way. What makes live pickup important is the fresh component. At Walmart's version, if you don't like your bananas or your strawberries seem a little wonkie, you can switch them out on the spot. I'd imagine Amazon will do the same. That tactic mitigates, but doesn't kill, the idea that you're going to get crappy fresh goods when you BOPIS. In any case it's a great test and, as usual, they'll learn a LOT.
  • Posted on: 03/28/2017

    Is ‘experiential retail’ taking a new form?

    Experience is a new way of saying something as old as Egypt. And its definition can come in the ancient form of call and response: "do you know the ____ brand? tell me what they're like and what it was like dealing with them." It's just that now the answer to the ancient question is much more complex than the open markets in Egypt were back in the day. MUCH more!The customer journey, in its latest form, is happening 24-7. And what you experience along that journey is what the "e-" buzz is all about. Even when you're just THINKING about said brand. Journey = tactics -- who, how, where, when. Experience = emotions -- love, hate, indifference (and the reasons behind them). It's a tough time to be a retailer, especially if you were raised/trained in the days of the Pharaohs.
  • Posted on: 03/27/2017

    Will ‘ambitious store redesign’ lift Target to new heights?

    It's definitely a step in the right direction. A mindset switch for Target will be the fact that stores must drive sales online, which is contrary to the legacy. The other factor in the re-design of stores should be turning them into fulfillment centers as well as CX stops. I didn't hear much of that from Mr. Cornell, but we need to, especially with Amazon and Walmart's aggressive push for pickup centers.
  • Posted on: 03/17/2017

    Will Uniqlo beat Zara with speed and customer focus?

    Uniqlo looks too much like Gap to me from every angle and, in case we all forgot, we already have one of those. Zara is better at fashion as well, and their verticality will go a long way to keeping them on top of that element. So all-in-all, I give it to the Spaniards.Having said that, either one would be foolish to open a lot of stores and expand too quickly in the U.S. market. The American consumer is showing a burgeoning love affair with online shopping, and it's not going to slow down any time soon. Au contraire.
  • Posted on: 03/16/2017

    Can UPS fly past Amazon in drone delivery?

    Ha, that's pretty good. Funny how after the leader in innovation (Amazon) takes the bloody nose for being "crazy" or for doing something that will never happen, the truth comes out: damn, that's a great idea! The question would be, where's FedEx and USPS on the drone issue?It's going to be weird seeing those things landing in my yard, I guess I better get used to it.
  • Posted on: 03/13/2017

    Has the retail industry’s real estate bubble burst?

    He's right. About a lot of things, by the way. But it's not only a pure space bubble, it's the quality of those spaces that's driving the lack of foot falls. Take Hayne and Co.'s idea behind their UO Spaces concept. That works. But to just stack it high and open the doors anymore is an arcane idea that consumers are no longer responding to.In the past most retailers were focused on three things: logistics, procurement and operations. Not one of those is customer focused. In the future, all retailers will have to spend much more time on customer-driven initiatives like service, convenience and experience. It's either that or turn your business over to the 900-pound gorilla where leading with the customer is a part of their DNA.

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