Lee Peterson

EVP Thought Leadership, Marketing, 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: 07/30/2021

    Amazon forecasts slower growth as it laps last year’s insane online sales gains

    I had a district manager once who told me, "don't run it up, you have to beat those numbers next year!" Funny. But that's what happened here. Amazon is like a pop star in that we just can't wait for them to fail. Of course the numbers were funky! Remember what happened last year? True test for all of retail will be the scores in '22.
  • Posted on: 07/30/2021

    What’s holding consumers back from adopting AR/VR shopping tech?

    A couple of things: 1) the tech is just not that good yet -- it's awkward, cartoon-like and you stumble around into things like a lost pony ... plus 2) REAL shopping is still better and too close to what we're used to. Give it a couple more generations of non-physical shoppers and improved tech and it'll be off and running. I wouldn't give up on it. Remember, revolutions can take decades. It's taken 25 (sometimes crazy) years to get e-com to 20%.
  • Posted on: 07/29/2021

    Store associates shouldn’t have to be the mask or vaccine police

    Sure, I'd support it, but this ain't China! Or even Europe. I mean, we can't even ask Americans to wear shirts without a battle! Store associates aren't bouncers. Best m.o. to me is to keep your staff as safe as possible (most protocols already in place) and let "freedom" ring. The whole thing is so exhausting. People can get sick if they want to, but don't look at us weird when we won't get near you.
  • Posted on: 07/28/2021

    Weather forecast predicts retailers will face more record-setting heat waves and storms

    Super threat to physical retail, like it needed another one. The idea of going out to a store on a 110 degree day vs hitting "buy now" on your phone or laptop seems downright ridiculous. But just like in the heat of COVID, I'd expect e-com to keep chugging along and producing increases for the best and most prepared brands.
  • Posted on: 07/27/2021

    Will the Delta variant keep shoppers and unvaccinated workers at home?

    Just reading that CDC expects this surge to last till October. Instead of a V case count, looks more like a W. Given how used to online everything we already are, it's a short leap of faith to say that we'll fall back on it if the W notion is true. Also read today how there's a new contagion out there: anger amongst the vaccinated. Business leaders included. I hear that.
  • Posted on: 07/26/2021

    Has Ben & Jerry’s gone too far with its stand on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

    It’s one thing if your politics are related to your product, like Patagonia and climate, but ice cream and the Middle East? Pretty risky IMO. But hey, seems they’re not worried (apparently) about making people angry as much as they are about pleasing (or confusing) their base. Good luck, boys!
  • Posted on: 07/23/2021

    How will COVID-19 shape future consumers?

    Not only Gen A, but ALL of us. We just did two studies on this topic and the thing that stuck out the most was the renewed interest in shopping local. Local brands OR mega brands that get into neighborhoods fared really well in terms of "where will you shop the most going forward?" Work from home was/is a huge factor in that result as parents and kids (Gen A) are spending a lot more time in their own vicinities and asking for more. Let's face it, retail was already getting blown into smaller parts and the pandemic sped that process up. Local makes a lot of sense going forward. But if the question is only about Gen A, I'd say look to livestreaming. Projected to be turning at a $23 billion rate in a year or so, the idea of a TikTok way of buying seems to be natural for generations to come. You know, shoppertainment.
  • Posted on: 07/22/2021

    Should retailers reconsider bringing their HQ staff back to work?

    To quote a '90s rom-com; it's complicated. Hopefully no one, after the last 16 months, is going to demand that everyone come back to work. That's just neanderthal thinking in my opinion. The return strategy needs to be thought out in detail by department, by productivity rates, by collaboration need and (gasp) by personal pressures. Anyone who doesn't approach it that way, in this day and age of hiring needs, is asking for turnover. At the end of the day, due to the advance of awesome technologies, really thinking out the need to be in-office is WAY overdue. I guess everything has a silver lining, even pandemics.
  • Posted on: 07/19/2021

    Is the Walmart/Justice tie-up a harbinger of more retailer brand partnerships?

    The key to this effort, and any similar venture, is product. Justice had to close because their perception of young girls as pink-dolly-play-time kids was way off the mark. So look for improvement there as a cornerstone to success - or not. Having said that, there is definitely a hole in that underserved market and the idea is solid. But again, nailing product for that customer base is not as easy as anyone thinks or thought.
  • Posted on: 07/16/2021

    Has Authentic Brands Group created a new brand-building model?

    An aggressive strategy, indeed. But in reality, it needs the weight of time to determine success as none of the brands in the portfolio are that unique or in some cases, even relevant. If we're discussing this three years as "the strategy that changed retail" it'll be champagne popping time. But until then, I'd keep my powder dry on the accolades.
  • Posted on: 07/16/2021

    Walmart exec says robots will seriously speed up DC-to-store supply chain ops

    Bezos is reading this in space thinking, "yeah, I know."
  • Posted on: 07/14/2021

    7-Eleven expands mobile checkout to thousands of U.S. stores

    Welcome to the 21st Century! I guess it is better late than never, but c'mon, Starbucks is working on their second decade with this technology and Sweden tested a "cashless" city four years ago! Surely the writing was on the wall. Regardless, the sooner we all (retailers) get to no-contact/cashless the better IMO and this will help in terms of scale.
  • Posted on: 07/09/2021

    Retailers still have a COVID-19 problem

    You know what? After the last Pearl Harbor of political BS about not wearing a mask, I'm of the mindset that if you make sure your staff are protected in every way possible, let the -- what would you call them, "non-believers"? -- go ahead and get sick. Have at it, just don't infect my people. Like most discussions about reality since '15, this conversation is exhausting. (For what it's worth: rode bikes with three guys from South America this weekend that came here just to get vaxxed -- that's a reality.)
  • Posted on: 07/09/2021

    Why do healthy eating campaigns fall on deaf ears?

    We're Americans - we have no self control, obviously. My fave is going to Europe and drinking coffee in these little cups then coming back here and getting a "trente" along with everyone else. Yikes.
  • Posted on: 07/08/2021

    Will in-person conferences make a comeback after a year of virtual shows?

    No doubt. We've got five lined up through the end of the year. As we've seen, humans are anxious to get back together, but even if that feeling is short lived the idea of meeting someone in person and just talking things through will not fade, especially after COVID-19. You don't know how good the water tastes till you can't have any!

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