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: 12/11/2018

    Will ‘Practice’ make for perfectly loyal customers at Lululemon?

    The Lululemon program is off to a good start by offering a strong value proposition, rooted in the ethos of the brand to inspire and empower. All too often brands try to emulate others rather than creating a loyalty program that works for their customers and their positioning. The proof will be in the pudding to see what type of benefits actually are delivered and the value people place on them.
  • Posted on: 11/29/2018

    Are retailers better off going cashless?

    This reminds me of the VISA commercial where everyone is checking out with a credit card and then the process grinds to a halt when someone uses a check. Elimination of cash by retailers will mostly eliminate employee theft and also speed up transactions. But to the un-banked or under-banked this will be a significant problem that must be addressed.
  • Posted on: 11/29/2018

    Store employees of the future will be affiliates, not associates

    Enabling in-store associates to engage outside the store makes sense as that's how shoppers engage. If they have a trusted relationship with an associate it makes sense. The affiliate model works for some retailers such as Nordstrom which has already heavily invested in the personal shoppers. But would this work for Walmart?
  • Posted on: 11/27/2018

    Can online unboxing videos turn Walmart into ‘America’s Best Toy Shop?’

    There are many categories that can benefit from technology that offers more fun, engaging and interactive experiences, not just toys. This is especially true for categories that require explanation and touching and feeling. In-store this may be limited however, as Walmart is not set up for shoppers to linger and engage in this type of manner.
  • Posted on: 11/27/2018

    Enjoy Life connects with consumers ‘one-to-one’

    Digital is much more targeted which makes sense for younger brands. But digital can also drive scale which may be appropriate for mainstream brands. Enjoy Life has learned nothing that we didn't already know, but perhaps something we forget: Trust grows best from individual engagement and authenticity. And it's always best to talk with people, not to them.
  • Posted on: 11/26/2018

    Millennial brand loyalty comes into question

    The concept of brand loyalty is one sided and comes from a myopic internal view -- people simply don't associate "loyalty" to brands. There are certainly brands shoppers like and prefer, but the idea of a brand saying "thank you for your loyalty" always struck me as odd (and, as background, I led the My Coke Rewards loyalty program to over 22,000,000 members). Millennials are more fluid in their purchases and have more information at their finger tips. They have quick access to sales, trends and information; they take all of this into account when making purchases. The real key for brands is ensuring they have a relationship with Millennials (and all generations) to ensure consideration and purchase.
  • Posted on: 11/26/2018

    Are Black Friday results a sign of Christmas 2018 things to come?

    The holiday season is off to a great start. But despite the rosy picture painted by the strong numbers above, issues lurk below. There were multiple reports of stores that were less than crowded (or even empty in my personal experience) on Black Friday. Further, shoppers encountered disabled or crashing websites (including Walmart, Lowe's, J.Crew, Lululemon, Gamestop, and Hollister to name a few) as the holiday shopping season kicked off. Black Friday 2018 may be the shift towards online and mobile shopping-first -- after all, you can cover a lot more sales on your phone than by foot.
  • Posted on: 11/12/2018

    Is it time for U.S. retailers to embrace Singles Day?

    Singles Day has become a cultural event - and not just a shopping day - because it tapped into a human truth and offered retail as a solution. Singles Day offers people an excuse to spend on themselves before the more altruistic holiday season. In the US multiple retailers are jumping on the they should...before Alibaba becomes a big player here.
  • Posted on: 11/02/2018

    Are Target and Walmart customers dreaming of a mobile checkout Christmas?

    There is a big difference between buying an outfit at Nordstrom and using mobile checkout versus doing your grocery shopping and hand scanning a cart full of groceries. I think this will be great for some departments and some 'light' shoppers, but I don't see this making a dramatic impact overall. And I'm not so sure the right time to roll this out (likely with minimal training) is the most busy shopping time of year.
  • Posted on: 11/01/2018

    Shoppable ads need to tone down the sales pitch

    Whether it's "learn more" or "shop now" the important thing to note is that social media is moving more towards higher engagement and interaction on its way to social commerce. Making the connection to get "viewers" of social media to become "engagers" is a critically important step for brands.
  • Posted on: 10/31/2018

    Has CVS found an answer to blunt Amazon’s move into the pharmacy business?

    Making life better for the shopper makes all the sense in the world. Drug channel players have a trove of data and a "subscription" base of shoppers that set up a tiny moat to protect from the Amazon onslaught. They key is to make the relationship stickier by making deeper inroads into shopper's lives. CarePass is a good move to capitalize on existing shopper relationships.
  • Posted on: 10/30/2018

    Is Sam’s reimagining the future of warehouse clubs?

    We should all be a little skeptical whenever a retailer announces that they are "changing the future of retail." Using technology to serve the shopper and make the experience better is certainly an admirable goal, but this announcement seems like others we've seen and heard before. The club experience is one that has not changed for quite some time and is ripe for disruption, so best of luck!
  • Posted on: 10/29/2018

    What if artificial intelligence is biased?

    AI is still relative new and still being developed as a solution. Inherent biases are hard to unearth with people which means AI-solutions are bound to have bias (even if vetted). The key is to find and understand how the biases impact the end result.
  • Posted on: 10/29/2018

    Can Brandless deliver on its lofty goals in a pop-up?

    Pop-up shops are perfect for introducing brands to new audiences and will serve Brandless well. The proposition of "better-for-you-discount" is one that needs to be seen and touched for many shoppers.
  • Posted on: 10/23/2018

    Brands are simply guests on Amazon’s platform and that’s okay

    Amazon is a for-profit business and has every right to prioritize their own interests. This is no different than a brick-and-mortar retailer promoting their own private label brands (something that happens today whether the retailer is Nordstrom or Kroger). To combat Amazon's private-label expansion brands must be brands -- represent something and offer great quality -- if they don't Amazon's offerings will gobble them up.

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