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: 05/22/2019

    Should retail boards include seats for store associates?

    Talk about an idea that should've been pervasive 20 years ago. Good ideas, like BOPIS, might've been executed better from the start. I remember when Crate & Barrel only hired HQ execs from their stores, that's a solid idea as well. I think you do have to take some things like the old, "we tried that before" into account, but that could be said of any board member.
  • Posted on: 05/21/2019

    How should retailers raise prices to offset tariffs?

    I've wondered for a while now, does our President know that practically all of Walmart's merchandise is from China? And if Walmart, a place where people of moderate to lower income can afford things, has to raise prices, it's going to be a disaster on a grand scale? Has that been thought through? Has Walmart (and many others under the NRF banner) been consulted? Guess we'll soon find out. In any case, the key to raising prices is to do it in small increments and not all at once. No one knows this better than Amazon and I'm sure Walmart. I just hope the whole mess and ego battle comes to an end quickly. The Chinese can wait us out. Can we say the same? Face the facts; this is a global economy and we need each other more than the public realizes. Time to stop playing games for votes.
  • Posted on: 05/16/2019

    Study says Whole Foods is the priciest grocer of them all

    I don't get the problem. Harrods was just voted the best luxury department store. But is anyone bugging them about high prices? Cumulatively, Whole Foods is CLEARLY the best grocery store (although some units may not be) with the best quality in terms of product, the best environment and the best people. Hence, their prices are higher. So? Ralph Lauren is better than Abercrombie and their prices are higher. Of course they are. Same with Whole Foods. It's better = it's more. If you can't afford "better," then don't go. That's a given. And while you're at it, don't go to Harrods either. What that means though is that there can only be so many Whole Foods. And again, so what? Amazon has already realized that and is touting the fact that they're going to open another grocery chain. Smart. Time to get off the "Whole Foods' prices are higher" duh and move on to something more provocative, like what exactly IS Amazon going to open?
  • Posted on: 05/15/2019

    The Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show exits network TV

    First of all, ditch the Glamazons. Use people instead. Second, hyperventilate the social platforms to no end, including influencers. And third, understand that "aspirational" doesn't have to happen in Bora Bora, it can happen in your own home. Having said that, "no TV" is a good first step. And I do think they can do it as stated above. In fact, they're probably WAY ahead of us. With over 60 percent of market share, they certainly have an attentive audience.
  • Posted on: 05/14/2019

    Did Walmart just one-up Amazon on next day deliveries?

    One day, two days, I'm not sure that's the key button to push anymore, especially with the proliferation of BOPIS, which is essentially less than one day. There are four Amazon warehouses in our neck of the woods and if I order simple stuff like books, music or certain tools/supplies, I get them the next day anyway and sometimes the same day without even asking. In other words, I'm already trained to get just about anything incredibly fast. Pushing one day as a big reason to shop Walmart over Amazon is a solid "meh" to me in terms of brand benefits. Maybe it's Target they're after, who's in the Dark Ages of fast delivery. But that's another story.
  • Posted on: 05/07/2019

    Will a buyer step up for Lord & Taylor?

    This is called "circling the wagons." Between HBC, Macy's, etc, the end is nearing when you see consolidation after consolidation. One brand may survive, but then again, the tactic didn't work so well for General Custer.
  • Posted on: 05/03/2019

    Do urgency tactics used by online retailers amount to marketing deception?

    Since when have we ever believed marketing tactics? From the Madmen days till now, we all know they're full of it for the most part. That's why some of Supreme's (and others) tactics today are so refreshing: "you have to be stupid to buy this." At least they're honest. "Deceptive practices" would be telling someone that the drugs they're asking them to take every day aren't addictive. That's deception that should stop. Telling me that driving this pick up will make a man out of me is more like, "if you believe this, you'll believe anything," ie; the choice is yours.
  • Posted on: 05/02/2019

    Are ‘live, work, shop, play’ environments a big part of retail’s future?

    Maybe I took the book "1984" too seriously, but this scares me a bit. If I live in a city, in a way, I'm doing this anyway, but if it's built in a cornfield somewhere all at once and I move there, seems pretty Orwellian to me. Or worse; working for the company store circa the 1930s. I know, old school thinking but, I'd still like all those components to be entirely separate, especially in today's "surveillance economy."
  • Posted on: 05/01/2019

    Are smartphones making sales associates obsolete?

    First of all, this is what happens when you build "warehouses" for 30 years, which encourage self exploration and secondly, don't focus on hiring, training and PAYING well. But, there'll be time to "fix" this in the new, much smaller world of physical retail to come, where your associates better learn how to one-up the robots and Google or you'll have to close all of your stores vs some of them.
  • Posted on: 04/30/2019

    McDonald’s teams with AARP on national campaign to recruit older workers

    Age discrimination is a rampant issue for retailers right now, especially in apparel. I personally know several people whose positions have been "eliminated" and then subsequently someone younger takes over similar, if not the same tasks under a slightly different title. In a way, I get it; let's get the boomers off the train and get some Digital Native thinking coursing through our retail/restaurant veins, but from another side, that's a LOT of experience going out the door. Surely if it's your goal to "youth up," an advisory or transitional role seems more relevant and quite useful vs the old boot. For McDonald's, who, at last check, had a target customer of 18 years old, this move seems kind of odd, even off-brand. Aka: PR stunt. Plus, the operations side of a QSR is all about speed, and hate to make a sweeping generalization, but that's not really a senior's forte. In a retailer's HQ, it makes sense to me to have wiser folks around who have seen everything, but on the floor of a QSR? Not so much.
  • Posted on: 04/29/2019

    Walmart’s Intelligent Retail Lab store runs on AI

    This test/lab store seems much more operations oriented than customer need driven. Granted, out of stocks can turn a customer off, but not having a much swifter checkout system (a la GO) as an example, is not a tip of the hat to the most important person in their lives. And frankly, the big "show" of all the tech in the back is, self-important vs solving any customer issue. Let's hope that their future efforts at this make the right corrections.
  • Posted on: 04/25/2019

    Will Rite Aid and Walgreens gain health cred by restricting tobacco sales?

    It appears there are some CVS haters in the crowd, Neil! Ha!
  • Posted on: 04/25/2019

    Will Rite Aid and Walgreens gain health cred by restricting tobacco sales?

    In this age of health and wellness driven especially by a younger customer and also from the over-65 gang (Boomers), it's OK to be a fast second to CVS in my book. But in the end, CVS will definitely reap the most out of this as first to market. In any case, bravo -- it's about time.
  • Posted on: 04/24/2019

    Kohl’s goes all-in on Amazon returns

    Boy, talk about sweetening the acquisition pot. Kohl's is the perfect physical growth vehicle for Amazon: "Goldilocks" size (not too big, not too small), built in good demographic areas, mostly free-standing (to add BOPIS), plus I'd bet most of their customers are already Prime users. And obviously the execs are already communicating nicely. Win-win. The true sign this will happen will be when those "4-Star" shops start showing up inside Kohl's. It'll only be an Alexa moment after that happens.
  • Posted on: 04/23/2019

    Are secondhand sales the right branding move for Neiman Marcus?

    I'm sorry, but I think this is just a bad brand fit. Also VERY hard to do: change gears and create a "used" space in a, get ready, Neiman Marcus. Huh? Having had experience in the used music business, I can tell you, it is the exact opposite of your normal product delivery process: study, buy, deliver, merchandise looks, etc. The entire used business is random, from what's brought in the door to when it's brought in the door to where it goes to how it looks together. Which is very UN-Neiman's IMO. Just because something is a trend doesn't mean it fits your brand. Should Gap sell the hottest product from Hot Topic (vampire badges)? Should Saks sell cannabis? Should Apple sell kale? I'd say, get better and broader in your lane, not in what customers perceive to be someone else's.

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