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. For more information, visit:
  • Posted on: 06/14/2019

    Amazon taps AI to drive fashion recommendations

    If Amazon can get this right, and that's a big IF given the fickleness of the fashion world, it will be huge. Using artificial intelligence can help people better shop for clothes and "find that look" on the spot. Assuming the tech -- and Amazon inventory -- can back this up, it will certainly find followers.
  • Posted on: 06/13/2019

    Indochino bets big on showrooms

    Exceptionally personalized service can be delivered as long as a brand's sales support it. Very different for a brand that averages $500 per sale versus $50.
  • Posted on: 06/13/2019

    Will same-day delivery flexibility give Target an edge over Amazon and Walmart?

    Lost in the "Battle of Titans" between Amazon and Walmart, Target is making the right moves to bolster digital sales. Target's purchase of Shipt in December 2017 gives them a logistics and delivery arm that provides great flexibility. Taking a page from Burger King, (with this move) Target allows shoppers to "Have it Your Way" with multiple delivery options. Offering flexibility for one-time, same-day delivery versus an annual commitment will generate new trial of the service and likely lead to even more subscriptions.
  • Posted on: 06/11/2019

    Nestle, Kellogg’s and others dump their DSD routes

    The DSD model has significant benefits for manufacturers of brands with high in-store volume, velocity, and require more constant attention to thrive. It also allows manufacturers to seek out other opportunities in store they would not see if going through the warehouse. For retailers, DSD may only be necessary for a small percentage of brands and likely gets in the way.
  • Posted on: 06/10/2019

    Who still thinks one-size-fits-all mannequins make sense?

    We come in all shapes and sizes and it's time retailers realize, accept and embrace that. Bravo!
  • Posted on: 06/10/2019

    Walmart debuts store-to-fridge fresh food delivery service

    The Walmart program is either the key to unlocking the next great wave of e-commerce sales or it's an unwelcome (home) invasion of privacy. Or, it's both. For harried families who never have time for errands, this can be a game changer. For some, this is a waste and they would never have another pick out their produce and meat. Regardless this program doubles down on the Walmart strategy that the store -- and now associates -- are the secret weapon in the battle versus Amazon.
  • Posted on: 06/05/2019

    Walmart’s checkout pilot puts shoppers in the fast lane

    Even with a new approach, scan-and-go has fundamental issues. Scan-and-go shifts the burden of work to the shoppers and does not make things easier. While shoppers may be able to "skip the line" over the course of a shopping trip, the time to stop, scan, and bag items more than makes up for any time gained not standing in line. This is significantly different than grab-and-go or scan-and-go at a store that stocks a limited assortment.
  • Posted on: 05/14/2019

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

    The battle for delivery has more twists and turns than Game of Thrones. Drama. Sudden shifts. Royalty. Money. After all, dominance over the kingdom is at stake. OK, maybe that's a bit too dramatic, but perhaps no less important. What does all this mean? The actions to win significantly impact those further down the supply chain. 1.) Packages will arrive faster than ever before (assuming you live in the right Kingdom, oops, zip code). 2.) Brands selling via e-commerce must become more nimble than ever with regards to their own supply chain. 3.) Shopper expectations for "I want it now" will only increase which will have broader implications across retail (online and in-store).
  • Posted on: 05/13/2019

    What’s wrong with the (fill in the blank) category?

    Category management is slow and out of date; to be successful today it must become faster and more nimble. Retailers must always be tinkering with categories to determine what will sell best -- wait, they do that online already -- hmmm. Unfortunately, most brick-and-mortar retailers approach category and assortment with a reactive short term view. New, innovative products that offer existing categories opportunity are not sought out and are therefore a tough sell. Once a category takes off and attracts new entrants it quickly becomes crowded and, all too often, hard to shop leading to decline. 21st century category management must enable faster decisions and take into account shopper needs.
  • Posted on: 05/06/2019

    Who is winning the shopping search race — Amazon or Google?

    "Inspiration" is a pretty bold word to use for either Amazon or Google product searches, but they certainly deliver information and discovery. Using a search engine (be it Amazon or Google) for shopping is akin to spearfishing when you are among the fish. When shoppers are in the market and are looking for solutions (not inspiration) Amazon and Google deliver.
  • Posted on: 04/29/2019

    Where’s the (alt) beef?

    I recently attended FMI's Annual Meat Conference where, not surprisingly, this topic came up. Even with all of the new players bringing a whole host of wonderful options to the market, the meat industry had its best year ever last year, so clearly this is not an either/or situation. Understanding the "problem to solve" is important here. Is it health reasons, environmental concerns, ethical, or other? Or some combination? Regardless, this is a rapidly evolving space with unknown issues and complexity. For example: if health is the motivator, is a high-processed food product to replicate meat really the solution?
  • Posted on: 04/19/2019

    Is AI’s impact on demand forecasting more hype than reality?

    What's the old saying? "Garbage in, garbage out." AI’s accuracy requires the right kind of data and the right kind of questions. Given the current margin of error on retail forecasting it's fairly safe to say this is not being handled well by retail today in all cases. For AI to emerge as the driving force in retail demand forecasting it will be important to ensure data from all parties (retailers, manufacturers and other vendors) can be coalesced into one massive data set -- this in and of itself may be too much to handle.
  • Posted on: 04/19/2019

    Will a healthier Wawa be a more successful Wawa?

    A retailer making changes in response to changing consumer tastes? Right on! The megatrends Wawa is leaning into will serve them well today and in the future. Healthier, more visually appealing offerings, with an added dose of convenience, can be a winning combo. The key is to ensure that this helps expand the market while not alienating their core audience.
  • Posted on: 04/15/2019

    Is Bed Bath & Beyond smart to draw the line on coupons?

    Bed Bath & Beyond is right to move away from generic coupons, but they should transition to more personalized offers to better drive trips and build baskets. They have trained us all to buy on coupon. But they have shortchanged themselves by not doing a better job of requiring consumer info in return. They must move from an everyday coupon strategy to more strategic discounting -- without shopper data this will be hard to do.
  • Posted on: 04/15/2019

    Can Walmart beat Amazon, Facebook and Google at the online ad game?

    Saying Walmart's digital ad business is "tiny" should be taken in context. Total 2018 Walmart revenue was $136.3B billion. Amazon ad sales are estimated to be $3 billion, compared to Facebook at $23 billion and Google at $32.6 billion. Clearly, Walmart sees opportunity and wants to add some "Bs" to their bottom line. Simply put, retailer platforms are where the shoppers are -- they own the digital shelf and brands need to take advantage of that (assuming retailers offer accountable results).

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