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: 09/20/2019

    Will The Body Shop find it’s easier being green?

    Given the most recent Global Climate March, I'd say it's absolutely the right thing to do, especially for a younger target demographic. What's too bad though is the fact that they didn't stick to their credo the entire time -- this could cost them as others, like Lush and La Flore, have passed them in the battle for the perception of being green. Still, I think they have the chops to make a comeback in that arena.
  • Posted on: 09/18/2019

    Are grocers falling short in selling better-for-you foods?

    This is a great question in that most "health conscious" consumers shop the store brand first; i.e., Whole Foods, Trader Joe's -- and the product brand second. The trust for the store is at a higher level than the department. I had a telling trip with Whole Foods executives once in California where they told me, "California is our toughest market because you have fourth generation health food eaters here." So Whole Foods was like a Kroger (traditional grocer) to Californians due to the heavy local and regional competition that had been entrenched since the '60s! That was a tree-hugging epiphany for me. So given that, of course it'll help to have better signage and more informative staff, but the positioning of the brand, and even the creation of a sub-brand, is where the real solution is.
  • Posted on: 09/13/2019

    Did Whole Foods just give conscious capitalism a swift kick to the curb?

    Oh boy. Everyone used to ask me, "so, what do you think will happen to Whole Foods now that the behemoth Amazon is at the reins?" Well, now we know. I'd expect more of this type of move, especially if I worked for them.
  • Posted on: 09/13/2019

    Old Navy is ready to set sail on its own

    It certainly is worrisome that despite reality, a sense of confidence prevails. That would apply to anyone, let alone a business in a category that's suffering from disinterest and declining footfalls on a consistent basis. Another burning question about this split is; what happens to Gap? Feels like the rats are jumping off the ship a little bit, doesn't it?
  • Posted on: 09/12/2019

    In power move, Walmart expands Delivery Unlimited

    Preemptive strike. Nice. You have to give it to Walmart, they're starting to actually beat Amazon (and traditional grocers) to the punch. And in this case, they've got the upper hand in that they've got the logistics, the physical presence and the raw wherewithal to make it all happen, even if it takes time to become highly profitable (and it will). The game here is market share, first to market, so to me it is a BIG win.
  • Posted on: 09/11/2019

    Will Walmart have more success creating consumer direct brands than acquiring them?

    From my experience in specialty retail, I've seen both work and both not work so, in the case of small box retail, I think it truly depends on the strength of the mothership brand. But it appears as though, in the case of Big Box retail (Target/Walmart/Home Depot, etc.), the "home" brand always rules. If you think about it Sears showed the way a long time ago, to say nothing of what Target's been doing the last 20 years. STILL, I think Walmart testing the out-brand idea was a valid attempt and should be considered valuable learning rather than a failure.
  • Posted on: 09/10/2019

    Will others follow Starbucks’ lead on employee mental health programs?

    Boy, talk about a little George Orwell truism. Seems like the last thing you want is someone (someone who's not a professional) informing upper management that certain staffers "have problems." Is bitching about work a "problem"? or talking about your girlfriend who just broke up with you in an unflattering manner enough to get you "reported" or on some unseemly list somewhere? Super dangerous IMO. One step from Thought Police. Unless this is for the Chinese stores, they do that already. Don't do it, Starbucks! Stick with healthcare for all employees!
  • Posted on: 09/06/2019

    Starbucks developing new store dedicated to pickup and delivery orders

    Great idea. The proliferation of "ghost kitchens" is definitely on the rise, matching or catching up to the consumer desire for delivery. In the end, the consumer is the disruptor so, if you want to stay in business, or not give half of yours away, this idea will have to be adopted.
  • Posted on: 09/04/2019

    Will Walmart’s customers accept its rejection of the firearms ‘status quo’?

    You guys, and the rest of the comments below, are pretty much spot on -- guess all the negative hits are just a sign of these sad times -- here's to November 2020!
  • Posted on: 09/04/2019

    Will Walmart’s customers accept its rejection of the firearms ‘status quo’?

    Sometimes you just have to do the right thing and to me, that's the least Walmart could do. Being a "good" company now requires them to do good things, not just make profits. I hope many more follow suit since our actual lawmakers are all on payola.
  • Posted on: 09/03/2019

    Will H&M’s ambassador program turn employees into social influencers?

    For most brands, especially those outside of the high-end or hot new brand realm, there is NO better influencer than an employee. When I worked in stores, I was an automatic influencer in that I was proud to work for the brand I was wearing and talking about, and they gave me a hefty discount to make it easier to do so. That was all free, btw. I totally get the influencer thing, so don't get me wrong, but don't you think that influencing is better off happening organically vs intentionally? If your brand is hot/good enough, it's going to happen (a la Supreme), but if you have to "force" it to happen, especially from employees -- who you would think should be automatic influencers -- maybe there's a lot more than influencing that needs re-thinking. As in, the truth.
  • Posted on: 08/30/2019

    Target leans on vendors in trade war

    So agree with Steve. Just as the partnership served dual benefits between China and the US, the same is true for Target and its vendors. If anyone thinks that China was the only one benefiting from doing business with the US, they should take a look at Walmart's profits, just to name one beneficiary (Walmart's customers being another). Putting everything on your vendors is a very 1980's way of thinking IMO. What they're saying is, "that's your problem," when, just as Steve is saying, it's obviously not, it's a mutual problem.
  • Posted on: 08/28/2019

    Caribou appears in Starbucks’ rearview with drive-thru concept

    That's funny, "rearview mirror." Starbucks has approximate 37,000 units to Caribou's 600 (200 outside of the U.S.). Besides, Starbucks has had drive-thru only stores for years. There's a double drive through Starbucks about a mile from my house. Also, the Starbucks app pickup and go puts a pretty big damper on the idea of drive-thru only, unless parking is an issue. That feature is just great, and you have the option of staying. Caribou is barely a blip on Starbucks' radar. McDonald's is way more of a threat and they're equipped with a drive-thru. Caribou was exceptional when they built premium spaces as a cool place for adults to have alone time or meetings or whatever, but that idea, ownership and opportunity to compete are all long gone.
  • Posted on: 08/27/2019

    Will Nordstrom’s sustainable fashion site win over eco-conscious consumers?

    Considering the brands mentioned, it seems like a good idea and that they get it. Certainly a brand from the great Pacific Northwest has less of a cred issue about this than say, someone based in Manhattan who has never said boo about it. Plus it's important, so good effort in my opinion.
  • Posted on: 08/23/2019

    Will the next recession devastate mall-based retailers?

    Interesting all the negative hits throughout this segment: recession deniers? Or we think there's a lot of well positioned retailers today? Really?

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