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: 02/14/2019

    America has too many retail stores

    While,like everything at retail it is a nuanced problem, compared to Europe and other developed countries we are over-retailed. The U.S. has a higher per capita percentage of commercial real estate devoted to retailing. The appetite for risk for U.S.-based retailers is also greater (i.e. less conservatively managed and higher-leveraged financing). This leaves many retailers more vulnerable to falling sales and economic issues, all at a time when shoppers are shifting a percentage of their buying to online.
  • Posted on: 02/13/2019

    Will the new plan for Sears work any better than the previous ones?

    To answer the question succinctly: No. Turning around Sears is not something that is likely given the erosion of trust and their shopper base. Looking to sell the assets is perhaps the best plan.
  • Posted on: 02/11/2019

    Are apps and voice assistants the keys to e-grocery adoption?

    Any technology that can make the shopper better (faster, smarter, spend less) will help. At this point, despite widespread penetration of mobile, the use of apps has been limited to, say, the best -- but continues to grow double digits annually. And, while voice household penetration is increasing, the usage within households for grocery shopping is small. I think we are still waiting for that killer app to propel grocery shopping forward, something that layers onto apps and voice to make it more compelling.
  • Posted on: 02/01/2019

    Shopper technology opportunities are the focus of FMI Midwinter

    How do you put the genie back in the bottle? How do you get the horses back into the barn? How can grocery recapture share from others? These are questions that have no simple answer, or may not even have an answer. The advice to behave like an innovative company is only half right (and the less important half, in my opinion). The true advice is to operate like a consumer and shopper-obsessed company.
  • Posted on: 01/25/2019

    Are NanoStores the new ultra-convenience stores?

    This idea is (pardon the pun) popping up more and more. Last week while traveling I noticed large scale vending machines for CVS and Best Buy at multiple airports. The key for these offerings is that they must be within high volume locations and offer relevant merchandise for the surrounding area. If this is just another convenience store...or similar to those (moderately creepy) mini convenience stores at hotels (where no one is really sure what to do)...success will be difficult.
  • Posted on: 01/02/2019

    Is Blue Apron smart to pin turnaround hopes on Weight Watchers alliance?

    The once scalding hot meal kit category has turned lukewarm at best. Deals like the one Blue Apron struck with WW will be key to differentiate and expand compared to the competition.
  • Posted on: 01/02/2019

    Whole Foods to expand nationwide to drive Prime Now growth

    Last year there were multiple rumors that Amazon might buy Target to help their expansion into grocery and help enable further market penetration overall. Now, with the news of aggressive expansion of Whole Foods, a Target purchase seems less likely. It also seems an indication that Amazon realizes grocery delivery is hard without the added benefit of in-store traffic. This will be interesting to watch in 2019.
  • 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.

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