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: 09/15/2017

    Kitchen 1883 may be a new platform for Kroger’s growth

    Safeway did this in 2007. And after tweaking it over the course of five years, they finally closed it. It was better looking and had a better menu than this effort by Kroger AND it was in California, the home of new restaurant concepts. It was called Citrine. Google it.I'm not suggesting that history repeats itself. I'm saying that Kroger does. Test after test, new prototype after new prototype, and what do we have? The most medium grocery experience ever produced. Just better PR. So what do they really play on? Price and convenient location. Which I would consider very slippery territory now with Prime next-day and Walmart lurking ever closer to your front door. Death by a million cuts.Kroger reminds me of Sears or J.C. Penney. Behemoths that are such giant, archaic hairballs, they'll never be able to be anything other than what they are. Will they be here in 50 years? Probably. Just a lot smaller and still just as aimless.
  • Posted on: 09/14/2017

    Millennials, not Boomers, say associates are key to shopping experiences

    Right! In surveys we do, Millenials almost always rank the store associate last in terms of the experience of being at physical retail. So yeah, I would imagine that when they run into a great associate, it would make a huge difference.Most of the massive issues retail is dealing with today are blocking and tackling fundamentals: good service, fast checkout, easy navigation, fair prices, realistic growth. As my old mentor used to say, "retail is NOT rocket science, it's not even science." Right.
  • Posted on: 09/12/2017

    Nordstrom tries a no-merchandise store

    We tested the idea of showroom stores like this both quantitatively and qualitatively and consumers are more than ready for them. We also know that Bonobos works (Walmart didn't spend hundreds of millions for nothing) and that Argos in the UK has been doing it successfully for a while. To say nothing of the Apple stores, which are essentially showroom stores. So the time is here. I wish more specialty stores would attempt this idea. If you were Gap and you saw Bonobos working, wouldn't you try to emulate them? I guess that's another topic for another day.Having said all that, it's going to take a little time for something like this to hit the center of the bell curve. Patience will come in handy, and a little of the old "super associate" experience (ala Bonobos) will be the key to success.
  • Posted on: 09/11/2017

    Will lower everyday prices boost Target’s traffic and sales?

    They kind of have to, unfortunately, due to pressure from the expansive Aldi and others. We always say, for Americans, price is priority number one through number five, everything else is after that. It's a mentality ingrained in the U.S. consumer's psyche, which is why some European grocers, like Tesco, had a hard time here but European fast fashion, like Zara, works (I mention Europe due to their lack of "discount" insanity in terms of how they run retail).Having said that, Target definitely has more permission to push margins with their private label. The Target brand is not built on price alone, which, if played right, could be a great thing for them in the long run. Sooner or later, most retailers are going to have to leave the commodities to the 800-pound gorilla and turn to the strength of their own brands. Target is ahead in that regard.
  • Posted on: 09/08/2017

    Will CVS’ sales take off in airports?

    We asked 3,000 consumers what digital/retail integration tools they liked best and digital vending machines ranked very high. Plus think of this: all the times you forgot something on a business trip or need, I don't know, some foundation.CVS, albeit a little slow with the idea (Best Buy did it five years ago), should do well with this one.
  • Posted on: 09/08/2017

    ‘Okay Google, I want to order from Home Depot’

    I wonder what happens if you ask Alexa to buy something from Home Depot or Walmart. Or if you ask Google to buy you something from Amazon. I get why retailers would use Google rather than Amazon's product but, from a consumer perspective, they should overlap -- right?As a consumer, I don't give a damn what AI program you run, I just want you to help me purchase whatever, whenever, however. It seems like another issue where retailers are thinking of themselves first, as digital immigrants are wont to do.
  • Posted on: 09/06/2017

    Are new, exclusive toys key to Walmart’s Christmas success?

    One of the keys to any retailer's future from this juncture on is unique product. Walmart is smart to take steps in that direction, especially in categories where brand makes less of a difference, like toys.However, apparel seems to be the exception to that rule. It turns out that the long tail of e-commerce has given the clothing consumer (especially young ones) permission to buy the coolest garment from the coolest retailer, whomever and whatever that may be in their minds. Which doesn't bode well for the '80s model of designing and manufacturing thousands of items that are exactly the same.So it's a good idea for toys, but think again for apparel.
  • Posted on: 09/05/2017

    Will burger and fitness partnerships reinforce Hy-Vee’s mission?

    Smart, smart, smart. Turning the physical space into something more appealing is the way of the future. As we have said for a while -- you don't have to go to stores, you have to want to go to stores. Burgers and workouts (although, probably not simultaneously) appeal to different segments, but both should work.Hy-Vee already gets very high scores from their customers and this will only help. It should also help when the Amazon/Whole Foods machine cranks up in the Midwest.
  • Posted on: 09/01/2017

    Does Amazon Books need coffee?

    Definitely YES! What's more symbiotic than coffee and books? Right. Nothing!
  • Posted on: 08/31/2017

    Are fashion trends moving too fast for retail?

    Yes, the trends are moving too fast for the product development systems most retailers have spent decades setting up. Way too fast. This is a result of the long tail of e-commerce: search anywhere for anything and get it now. That premise just sped everything up, which is why specialty retail is in such dire straits (that and too many stores of course).No one could've predicted the fact that you can see a trend on the street and go home and have it shipped from anywhere in the world to your doorstep in a day or two. But it certainly looks like that's at the core of the seismic change in retail today.Personally, i love it.
  • Posted on: 08/29/2017

    Are Whole Foods’ price cuts game-changing for food retailing?

    Isn't it funny how when you're bought by a giant company it suddenly becomes ok to do something "The Street" would never have allowed you to do on your own? Nice.Anyway, this is a good start, but the real goal, converting Kroger and Walmart customers, is a long way off. We're thinking AMZN didn't buy Whole Foods impulsively, so I would expect the other shoe to drop before the end of the year. This isn't enough for the grand prize (Walmart's $254b grocery biz), but something like free home delivery as a combo could be.
  • Posted on: 08/28/2017

    Are vendors delivering better online experiences than multi-brand sellers?

    I'm with Keith on this. I can't imagine a consumer buying some Pepsi from the Pepsi site, then going to all other manufacturer websites one at a time with various discount or pricing levels and then receiving 37 different boxes at their door at different times. Makes NO sense.My takeaway from these results is that retailers need to step up their game in terms of online experience. Most are pretty clunky, thus the results.
  • Posted on: 08/25/2017

    What’s delaying BTS selling?

    Everything's instant now, so why run out early? Smart consumers, which includes Digital Natives of course, wait to see what their environment is like before purchasing anything (clothing, certain supplies, garbage cans, etc.) because they can get it NOW. What's the rush?Remember, the retail environment over the last few years has been a consumer paradise. These are the most spoiled consumers in the history of retail. They get what they want when they want it and how they want it. At least, they'd better or they're not your customers anymore.
  • Posted on: 08/24/2017

    Will Amazon become a dominant force in grocery after acquiring Whole Foods?

    Walmart is a half-trillion dollar company. Half -- or more -- of that business is in grocery. In order to become a trillion-dollar company themselves, Amazon literally HAS to dig into that. So yeah, they will become a dominant force in grocery. Undoubtedly that has been the goal for years. It's just not that easy, and Walmart gets that. Why do you think Walmart has accelerated BOPIS, self checkout and e-commerce? They're protecting their house. Big stakes or, more succinctly put, all the stakes.I wouldn't worry about anti-trust and Amazon for some time to come. But if they bite into that big chunk of Walmart's business pie, I'd bet the Feds will come calling sooner than later.
  • Posted on: 08/23/2017

    Do retailers need to buy the loyalty of consumers?

    Warren Buffet once said, "price is what you pay, value is what you get." I believe that should be gospel. But most retailers equate the two, as do most consumers IMO. For example a "value meal" at 99 cents is NOT a good "value" because it's bad for you. It's just cheap. A healthy meal at six times that cost IS a good value because you got something that's better for you and may help you live longer. What's more valuable than that?So I think that there should be a bifurcation of these results. Whole Foods, to me, is a good value, because what I get is fantastic. Walmart and Amazon are the kings of price and so I may shop there if i wish to spend less. Good prices. But they are totally different and should be shopped and researched as such.It seems to me that what we're really talking about here is price. And if ICSC did an entire study to see what matters most to U.S. consumers and got "price is key" as a result, that is clearly the biggest DUH I have seen in a long, long time. Value is something that should have been more clearly defined as retailers need to focus a lot more on that rather just price -- which is a losing game to the likes of Amazon."Sharpening your pencil" will just not be enough for the wiser generations to come. Getting something good will have to come into play.

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