Michael La Kier

Principal, What Brands Want, LLC
Michael La Kier has a proven track record in building consumer-loved and shopper-relevant brands by unearthing insights to break new ground, enter new markets and create richer, more profitable relationships.

Michael founded What Brands Want, LLC in 2013 as an advisory service to help companies better position and effectively present their offering to brands and consumers. With deep of experience working with some of the world’s best brands – including Coca-Cola, The Food Channel, USA Today and Save the Children – Michael brings a wealth of marketing experience to help a diverse client based ranging from digital and traditional brands to marketing tech startups.

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  • Posted on: 06/15/2018

    Sam’s to open small concept focused on tech, fresh and grab-and-go foods

    It seems odd that a club store would make a significant move into smaller stores, so it's likely that this is more of a learning lab. Sam's Club's move to open "Club Junior" (if we can call it that) indicates a shift in focus to be more concerned with the shopping experience, and a continued move away from the business member.
  • Posted on: 06/13/2018

    Will IHOP’s burger buzz translate into sales?

    Burgers are the most popular sandwich in the U.S. and more than 300,000,000 sandwiches are eaten daily. IHOP (just can't bring myself to fall into their marketing trap) is moving into a broader category than breakfast. There's no question the campaign will increase IHOP's share of the lunch market, given that they have not had truly viable options there or marketed outside of breakfast. The real question is, how much will it benefit them and how much share will they gain? And the downside? They lose focus and turn off their existing customers.
  • Posted on: 06/13/2018

    The question for today’s retailers: What business are you in?

    This is one of my favorite questions, and one most retailers do get wrong. A great example of a retailer who thinks beyond the products they sell is Publix. They are the largest employee-owned grocery chain in the U.S. They are dedicated to customer service and community involvement and food is the solution they offer. From in-store Publix Aprons demos and recipes of the week to sponsoring local soccer and giving to Feeding America they are more focused on helping the community than they are on winning in the grocery game.
  • Posted on: 06/12/2018

    Should retailers incentivize store staff to accept digital transformation?

    Change management is tough. With digital transformation change management is even tougher. Building in new technology is only helpful if internal staff and shoppers use it. And if adoption stops with staff, it will not expand beyond them.
  • Posted on: 06/12/2018

    Facebook to ban advertisers if they don’t clean up their acts

    More transparency and rebuilding trust are critical needs for Facebook. Anything they can do to pursue those needs will be helpful. Shady advertisers with poor customer service must be eliminated. This will help address, but won't entirely solve, the trust gap.
  • Posted on: 06/11/2018

    Are retailers short-changing national grocery brands?

    While this study included some very useful information, it was done from a retailer and brand perspective. Shoppers don't think about private label vs national brands. They are all brands. Many retailers have very valuable brands they created and curate (Trader Joe's, Kroger, Total Wine, Whole Foods). Now to the strangest finding from the study -- lower revenue from private label. The lower revenue from own-brands does not matter to most retailers as they are margin-accretive overall.
  • Posted on: 06/08/2018

    Retailers told to forget social media

    What's the definition of "worth it" and what's the goal? The best thing about digital is that it is measurable ... and the worst thing about digital is that it is measurable. That being said, attribution is not always easy to deconstruct. Fun, distinctive content helped not only drive sales, but helped Mr. Salvatori build a brand via social media for his "irreverent gifts." This would have been hard to do without social media. But as with every medium, metrics should measured to ensure objectives are being met.
  • Posted on: 06/07/2018

    How many e-mails are too much?

    It's only too much email if they unsubscribe or never buy! OK, that's a bit facetious. When an email is unwanted or irrelevant — regardless of actual amount — it seems like too much. The old spray and pray method of weekly or sale related emails corresponds to retailers' needs, not shoppers. Retailers need to get on board with today's email technology and CRM platforms to best understand demand and response to ensure optimal timing and cadence to their emails.
  • Posted on: 06/04/2018

    Does it pay for retailers to price-match their own websites?

    Granted online and in-store have different dynamics as channels, but shoppers don't want or need to know the ins and outs...after all to them it is a single retail entity. Having shopper-coherent pricing (when asked to match) is very important to drive trust and long-term shopper loyalty.
  • Posted on: 05/22/2018

    Amazon bans chronic returners

    During its history and huge growth, the assurance of returns is an important contract between Amazon and buyers. This is especially true with categories where "fit" or "taste" is important. The assurance that we can return things drives additional purchases we might not otherwise make. These situations don't impact most shoppers and are a little overblown via media reports. However, this can make shoppers think twice and create a negative halo.
  • Posted on: 05/18/2018

    Will store-within-a-store concepts make Hy-Vee’s more attractive destinations?

    The key to the store-within-a--store concept is that the partnership be relevant for shoppers. A good example is that Walmart has had vision, nails, Western Union, and others which help condense trips for harried shoppers. In the case of Hy-Vee, making sure the surrounding store demographics support beauty vs. burgers will be key. This is not something that can work in all stores, but it can be a boon to the right stores.
  • Posted on: 05/18/2018

    Will American consumers go for ‘When Harry Married Meghan’ promos?

    Brands have attempted to tap into relevant cultural happenings for decades. This ranges from Presidential elections to sporting events and seasonal opportunities. As with all of these, some will be successful and some will be "pretenders to the throne." The key for brands is to be authentic, or at least entertaining, and relevant in some way. If the connection is too much of a stretch, consumers will ignore or, worse, leave with a bad taste in their mouths that the brand tried to take advantage of the event.
  • Posted on: 05/17/2018

    Will Target Restock undercut Amazon’s Prime Pantry?

    Restock offers Target a way to get into the subscription business ... albeit a little late to the party as Amazon and others have been doing this for awhile. This helps get them to parity.
  • Posted on: 05/17/2018

    Ocado to automate Kroger warehouses in exclusive U.S. deal

    Warehouse automation can drive efficiencies. It remains to be seen if it can help a high-SKU retailer like Kroger. Should it be successful, it will provide a competitive advantage and spread to others as well.
  • Posted on: 05/17/2018

    Walmart drops Scan & Go tech – again

    Not sure this solution solves a problem shoppers have. As currently structured Scan & Go shifts the work of checkout to the shopper and adds time to trips. Digital solutions should make the shopper better, smarter or faster.

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