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: 10/15/2021

    Just how casual will wardrobes become?

    Funny but absolutely true. I was even looking at talk show hosts thinking, "why do you guys still wear ties?" Ties. How last century.
  • Posted on: 10/14/2021

    What lessons should retailers take from the Theranos fraud debacle?

    I think retailers know the message: don't oversell to Wall Street, go low. The message for investors is: if it sounds too good, it is.
  • Posted on: 10/13/2021

    Stores? Kroger don’t need no stinking stores

    This is one of the most interesting ideas yet out of the Kroger PR department. In theory I like it but, in reality, I believe the hybrid model (i.e.; some stores, lots of e-commerce) is the way to go. It will be interesting to see if A.) they stick to their plan and don't open stores and B.) if they do that, what happens. There's a reason Kroger is not in that market already: this is full-on Publix territory. So that's another interesting element at play here. Can they use e-commerce only to compete with a dominant market force? I'd bet not but, given the rate of e-commerce acceptance since 2020, I might lose that bet.
  • Posted on: 10/12/2021

    Should advertisers delete Facebook?

    Watching 60 Minutes, all I could think was, "shut it down!" That's not free speech, that's outright, intentional manipulation of the masses. OUR masses. Tech has always been so far ahead of the ancient regulators, it's almost impossible to do that now. If what the whistleblower said is true (she had THEIR documents so it is hard to say it's not), that is a dangerous business in so many ways. It's hard to justify their existence, let alone advertising with them, unless you just don't care.
  • Posted on: 10/08/2021

    Will Wrangler make an authentic connection with Millennials and Gen Z?

    This is a tough one. The brand name itself is very restrictive. It's hard to steer around that obstacle (see also: The Beer Store in Canada). Why not drive hard on core customers? It sure seems like there's enough there as everyone else chases the elusive Z and M generations, who are more interested in re-sale anyway.
  • Posted on: 10/08/2021

    Your next c-store online order may be delivered by a robot

    Wait -- convenience store online order? Is that an oxymoron, or what? Isn't it "convenient" because A.) it's close by and B.) I can just run in and get something? I am all for testing the most outside-the-box stuff, but this? Gotta draw the line somewhere.
  • Posted on: 10/06/2021

    Target is giving associates even more reasons to stay

    Smart. Especially given the tight labor market. Now it's an easy answer to the question, "would you rather work at Target or _____?" The only cynical thing I can think of is, what took so long?
  • Posted on: 10/05/2021

    Mobile retail aspires to attain food truck-like popularity

    We just did a test with 2,700 consumers around the U.S. about this exact question and it came back pretty negative. As a matter of fact the response was more like, NO! Still, as always for me, it's worth a test. Nike, Gatorade and others have made it work, but at sporting events. Hey, fail fast! Better to learn than to know nothing.
  • Posted on: 10/04/2021

    Amazon asks, why wait for Black Friday when you can get Christmas deals today?

    It's smart to jump the gun, especially since the widespread news of logistics issues could be worrisome for consumers -- why wait? The response from the retail world who ARE waiting will be interesting. It will be a test to see how much Amazon affects mass retail strategies, as they did with Prime Day. I would suspect a lot -- so expect the copycats to roll right in behind this announcement.
  • Posted on: 10/01/2021

    Digital-first focus drives faster growth than stores ever did for Sweaty Betty

    For many things COVID-19 was an accelerator -- we all know that. But for e-commerce, it was a nuclear rocket booster. Over 75 percent of Americans were required to work from home, going outside seemed unsafe and oh yeah, it was cold a lot. Surveys pre-COVID-19 had e-commerce at around 20 percent of retail (minus gas, auto, restaurants) but in several recent studies, when consumer were asked "how will you shop predominantly going forward, in stores or online?" e-commerce hit 64 percent and higher. And by the way, Warby was really the first to use e-commerce as a driver into a market and THEN follow with physical. So yeah, Sweaty Betty was a fast second on the road to the future of retail, but there's nothing wrong with that.
  • Posted on: 09/30/2021

    Last-mile costs keep piling up

    This furthers the advantage Amazon built for themselves with Prime Air and their own trucks, which, unless you are Walmart (maybe) is impossible for retailers to compete with. The best strategy going forward is starting to look like Target's: ship from store and, when possible, do it yourself. It would be interesting to play out a cost analysis using Lyft or Uber or your own drivers vs UPS/FedEx, etc. It could be a wash, and therefore leverage. One thing's for sure though, with constantly rising rates you better start testing ideas like that NOW rather than simply transferring cost to consumers, which would give Amazon another advantage.
  • Posted on: 09/29/2021

    Best Buy says ‘relax, we’ve got you’

    Best Buy has two secret weapons: the blue shirts (which they've always focused on) and Geek Squad. It's a lesson for all retailers in my opinion. Stress training for your associates, especially at store level (a differentiator) and figure out how to get into people's homes and solve problems. I can't think of anyone that does both (why doesn't Apple have an "Appleseed" Squad?).
  • Posted on: 09/28/2021

    Will Americans finish this year’s Christmas shopping before Thanksgiving?

    Given the widespread knowledge of the logistics issues and the proliferation of e-commerce, Christmas will DEFINITELY come early for most shoppers. BUT this is America and we love shopping late and, at the moment, we (kind of) miss stores too so I would expect last minute store shopping to be strong. Not basket size, just shopping for last minute odds and ends. +50 percent e-commerce sales is right around the corner and this could be the kick-off of numbers like that.
  • Posted on: 09/27/2021

    Madewell launches a circular shopping experience with thredUP

    There is no question that re-commerce is a huge opportunity, and partnering with someone like thredUP (an already established leader) is smart. But the real "get" with re-com is, who's going to actually make money, significant revenue, doing it? Especially since there are already players that are at the top of the consumer mind like Facebook, eBay, Depop and the aforementioned thredUP. However having asked that, my take is you pretty much HAVE to do something, even if you're not going to pull down big revenue -- it says more about you if you don't do it than if you just take a swing at it and so, subsequently, you'll continue to see efforts like this with Madewell. Meh.
  • Posted on: 09/16/2021

    Should Banana Republic revisit its safari past?

    Tell you what, if the product looks anything like the ads, I'd say definitely YES. Banana Republic got so far away from the original brand premise that I believe they lost their way. Not only does the new gear look great, it also resonates with the zeitgeist of comfort, home and longing for travel. I'm (back) on board!

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