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: 11/15/2019

    Walmart has a too much grocery problem

    Mr. McMillon is correct to focus on general merchandise, but that's a lot easier said than done. For starters, what category? Apparel's in a multi-decade funk as digital natives have totally changed that game. CPG is CPG and there you're up against Amazon and others who sell for super low margins. Broadly, "general merchandise" is another way of saying, "we're not sure what, but the rest of the store." To me the answer lies in a thorough, long term private label strategy, which has never been a Walmart strength. And the road to developing private label is an equally long term play that mostly involves top to bottom talent. In other words, recruiting top flight R&D, brand strategy, packaging, merchandising, social media, etc., people to Bentonville. That means there's lots to do and a long way to go. But if anyone has the wherewithal to do it, it's old blue.
  • Posted on: 11/15/2019

    Should customers just be paid for their data?

    Talk about spreading the wealth, this would work better than over-taxing the rich (mostly because the rich will figure that kind of thing out anyway). There are several advocates for this cause out there now, BUT is it realistic? Let's see, Dear Mr. Zuckerberg, could you please give half your profits to your subscribers? Nice dream, but it ain't gonna happen.
  • Posted on: 11/14/2019

    Is ‘OK Boomer’ a merchandising opportunity?

    I love it, so good. It should be used as a statement used by today's retail leaders, not just on merchandise. "We're going to focus on fundamentals." -- OK, Boomer. "That new BOPIS system is too expensive." Ok, Boomer. "We can't afford to pay people a living wage." OK, Boomer. On and on. It's not merchandise, it's a battle cry for change!
  • Posted on: 11/13/2019

    What happens now that Nike has called off its deal with Amazon?

    Interesting move. Still, I don't think many brands have the scale and breadth that Nike does, so I don't see a mass exodus. Their site is actually better than Amazon's in my opinion anyway. Also, Nike is still on Walmart's marketplace, which is prolific. Would've been cool to be a fly on the wall at Nike when this decision was made. Seems like a power move to me (you need us more than we need you). We shall see.
  • Posted on: 11/13/2019

    Study: Consumers don’t enjoy doing their holiday shopping online

    Online shopping: functional. In-store shopping: emotional. Using that as a guideline, online activities simply need to function really, really well, with clarity, speed, ease of use, simplicity, i.e., all the things that define excellent function must dominate. The last thing you want is emotion to creep into function as that emotion will most likely be frustration.
  • Posted on: 11/13/2019

    Retail apocalypse? How about a disruptor meltdown?

    I blame WeWork for this trend. Long term thinking is not exactly Wall Street/Private Equity's cup of tea anyway, so it was only a matter of time until the trend (proved out by Amazon, by the way) ended and future fears - future meaning next year for Wall Street -- set in. If investors were less frenzied/school-of-fish-like about their decisions, I believe they'd see that many of these start-ups would be worth letting play out.
  • Posted on: 11/12/2019

    Amazon confirms it will open a grocery store not named Whole Foods

    I'm not sure how much Amazon has learned from Whole Foods other than how to run out of things and not bring some of my favorite items back. BUT having said that, if Amazon sticks to its fundamental mantras about the essentials; speed, price, selection, efficiency and, most of all, great customer service, they should win big. Some day. Because it turns out grocery is NOT that easy, which I'm sure they have found out from Whole Foods. This is not going to be an overnight thing like the rest of their explosive growth. Let's see how much of Walmart's pie they can grab in the next five years (PS: Whole Foods is NOT grabbing part of Walmart's pie, as most of you know.)
  • Posted on: 11/08/2019

    Gap Inc.’s CEO steps down. What comes next?

    They/he could have waited until January IMO, this makes me wonder if one of the parties had just had enough. In any case, I would highly recommend looking for someone who thinks like a digital native to lead this behemoth out of the muck; someone who acts quickly, fails fast and learns, moves to new things ASAP and considers what the customer wants ahead of cost (not the CFO). This is a big ship to turn around and it's going to take some bold thinking to do that or I think you're looking at a pretty dismal future for Gap Inc. More CEOs have transitioned out this year than any year in the last 50 years. It's a bye bye Boomer moment in time.
  • Posted on: 11/07/2019

    Can J.C. Penney reinvent itself with its offbeat lab store?

    I like this, a lot. Sure, they should've done it 10 years ago, but at least it's happening. And as far as what'll work, who knows? Could be anything. If DSW's nail salon was successful, anything's possible!
  • Posted on: 11/06/2019

    Food halls drive mall traffic, not clothing sales

    This is one that I don't think is entirely on the landlords. The central issue is that fashion has changed so much in the last decade, and especially for most apparel retailers' target customer, that unless most of them go through a complete metamorphosis their futures are not very bright. Fashion now consists of a cornucopia of new elements/challenges: used product from the past five decades, "hot now" items that go away in a matter of weeks, street wear drops that can virtually eliminate budgets, fleeting influencers, social media cancels and more. Gen Z reportedly buys most of their apparel through Instagram! As has often been said, "retail is not for the faint of heart" and boy, is that true now, especially for apparel's physical outlets. When you see apparel retailers announce that they're "changing everything" as some recently have (A&F, Express, etc), that is a very good thing. Having said that, it's hard to see anything other than a downsizing of the physical footprint and the mall in general in the foreseeable future.
  • Posted on: 11/05/2019

    Is Amazon starting to fall out of favor with American consumers?

    No way. Amazon increased revenues in the last three years by over $100 billion - that's *billion*! Walmart, Target, Home Depot, no other giant can touch that. What the survey says belies what people are actually doing and the numbers clearly back that up. In terms of "luster," which I take as making some mistakes, yeah, that's definitely happening. But what would you expect from a company growing that fast? Perfection? Their growth is unprecedented and to stumble every now and then would be expected in my mind. Have they peaked? Not yet. I think this holiday is going to set all kinds of records for the Smiley Giant, especially if the weather is in any way poor.
  • Posted on: 11/04/2019

    Century 21 pops up near Macy’s Herald Square for the holidays

    Many retailers do the majority of their annual sales from T-Day to Xmas, so pop-ups make huge sense, to them of course (not realtors). Century 21's pop up looks pretty cool too, so if I'm a Macy's client, I'd definitely check it out. Nice idea and good execution.
  • Posted on: 10/30/2019

    Will free deliveries for Prime members make Amazon the driving force in online grocery?

    Finally, the battle for Walmart's $265 billion grocery business begins. I don't think this is the end-all in terms of getting more market share, but it is DEFinitely the first shot over Bentonville's bow.
  • Posted on: 10/28/2019

    What makes voice assistants creepy?

    It's a funny thing because it takes a while to realize that if the harmless looking device can listen and then speak to you, that information doesn't just sit there. And now, with the current movement towards more privacy scrutiny on the social platforms, you can't help but thinking, "well, who does have all that information I just gave them?" Right. Who does have it? Having said that, given consumers' rather lackadaisical attitudes towards privacy and the ease of voice shopping, I still think it'll win out in the end. It's just too damned easy. Maybe though, we'll start to read those agreements now. And for what it's worth, see the movie Anon. Terrific thriller along the lines of the Black Mirror stuff.
  • Posted on: 10/23/2019

    Best Buy is ready for Christmas with free next-day deliveries for almost everyone

    We did a study on the most important issues to consumers right now and speed came in fourth (4,000 people, match of U.S. demographics). So I think next-day is important, but not a game-changer. I honestly think the difference between one-day and two-day is insignificant to consumers, as long as it's free. In the U.S., every retailer knows that the word FREE is always a game-changer.

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