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: 08/10/2018 to offer easier returns for marketplace purchases

    Reducing any barriers to sales is a good thing for shoppers. May not be such a good thing for marketplace vendors given higher than in-store rate of returns for online vs. in-store.
  • Posted on: 08/10/2018

    Party City to run pilot with Amazon, ‘the world’s largest and most trafficked mall’

    If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Glad they are approaching as a test as partnership with Amazon can be a huge boost to sales overall, or it could be a supply chain nightmare. However, testing this out with one of the main traffic-driving times for their stores can lead to a false read of how successful (or not) the test will be.
  • Posted on: 08/08/2018

    Report says voice commerce is all talk

    Clearly reports of "The Age of Voice Commerce" have been overstated. But if CPG companies (and others) wait for Amazon and other assistant manufacturers to completely figure things out, they will be left out of the story. Much of the shopper marketing industry was founded on "getting on the list." This will never have been more critical if and when the future becomes auto-replenishment (via voice or other). Testing, learning and adapting is the order of the day now and forever more.
  • Posted on: 08/07/2018

    Walmart looks to automate grocery pick-up

    Efficiency in e-commerce is essential. The ability to drive down supply chain costs is part of Walmart's DNA (I just don't know that Sam Walton envisioned Alphabot as the way to get there). It will be fascinating to see the results and if this takes off.
  • Posted on: 08/07/2018

    Fred’s amps up the treasure hunt

    The concept of a treasure hunt is not a new one. One difference here is that they are being more overt about the idea and promoting it as a reason to come into the store and buy now. If the economics hold, this could be a meaningful differentiator for them, as long as the merchandise is of quality and shoppers don't get sick of them ALWAYS promoting.
  • Posted on: 08/01/2018

    Kroger Ship to take on Amazon’s Prime Pantry

    Saying it will "redefine the customer experience" is a bit much. Kroger Ship helps get Kroger on a level playing field with other retailers (Amazon, Target, etc). What could help significantly is the huge data asset from 84.51 to help manage the inventory and engender greater omnichannel shopper loyalty.
  • Posted on: 07/13/2018

    Ellison shaking things up at Lowe’s

    If anyone can understand the competitive advantages of Home Depot and how to apply them to help Lowe's grow, it's Marvin Ellison. His quick reactions are proof that he learned lessons from J.C. Penney and he will not wait to act. He needs to move aggressively and push Lowe's to innovate and make noise in the category and it seems he is on the way to doing so.
  • Posted on: 07/13/2018

    Did Build-A-Bear destroy its brand with a successful promotion?

    Good news: People like Build-A-Bear. Bad News: People REALLY like Build-A-Bear. This could be the most successful failure in Build-A-Bear's history. The worst result is that it left disappointed kids and the feelings of "I am a bad parent" will likely be turned on the retailer for some time, creating ill will and hurting brand equity. They should have anticipated and tested this idea before going all-in. Shame on them.
  • Posted on: 07/10/2018

    Hershey figures out what drives impulse purchases in stores

    Creating "irresistible shopping experiences" starts with understanding the human truths or shopper motivation behind buying. Kudos (oops, is that one of their brands?) to Hershey for doing the hard work to segment and understand shopper behavior. I wonder if they factored in the fact that most locations where they drive impulse today (near checkout) are rapidly disappearing and more sales are moving online?
  • Posted on: 07/10/2018

    Will lockers transform Home Depot’s BOPIS operations?

    BOPIS is becoming a bigger play for retailers as it provides a natural transition from in-store to online for shoppers. For the retailer it helps remove the cost of last-mile delivery and for the shopper you can typically get items faster. The strategy is more complicated with the home improvement category as some items are very bulky and some items are very small. If wide adoption happens, I'm not sure that Home Depot will have enough lockers ...
  • Posted on: 07/09/2018

    Is real-time order tracking becoming table stakes for e-tailers?

    Transparency in the shopping process is important. Understanding how and when a package arrives is rapidly becoming table stakes and an offering that is important. Offering "informed delivery" will be something retailers want to do now. While this is not important 100 percent of the time, when shoppers want to know it is 100 percent important!
  • Posted on: 07/09/2018

    Amazon lowballs CVS and Walgreens on OTC med prices

    Amazon's strategy is to undercut the competition on OTC medications and start conditioning shoppers to think of them more for healthcare needs (in fact, they want to be seen OVERALL as a provider for day-to-day needs). This will be interesting, however, as the drug category has some of the most sophisticated loyalty and CRM programs. I'm not sure Amazon has faced off against a retail category as intimate with their customer. If Amazon starts to pick off CVS's, Rite Aid's or Walgreens' core shoppers these retailers can identify it quickly and respond rapidly.
  • Posted on: 06/21/2018

    Apple’s Ahrendts sees a ‘bigger purpose than just selling’ for retail

    People’s expectations (as purchasers, consumers and investors) have been raised. Businesses must operate with multiple goals in mind, not just with a focus on the almighty dollar. Embedding "purpose" in everything you do is critical to the long-term sustainability of business. This is not just a trend, but a macro-force that will shape the relationship between businesses, shoppers and consumers for decades to come.
  • 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.

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