Lee Peterson

EVP Thought Leadership, Marketing, WD Partners

After over 30 years as a merchant at Limited Brands, a retailer and a retail consultant, Lee brings an innovative approach to strategic assessment and brand development across diverse industries. He is particularly in tune with cultural trends, consumer demographics, and buying behavior. This experience gives Lee a well-rounded and informed approach to brand development and designing customer-focused retail and restaurant experiences. Lee wholeheartedly believes that stores must perform for the retailers, as well as consumers.

At WD Partners, he leads an experienced group of creative retail designers and strategists working on brand and prototype development for such clients as Wal-Mart, The North Face, Starbucks, Gatorade, Red Bull, Best Buy, New Balance, Safeway, Home Depot, Culver’s, Bob Evans, Whole Foods Market, eMart, Co-op Mart, Mimi’s Cafe and LensCrafters. Lee also leads WD’s marketing team which produces their web site, white papers and all marketing communications.

His comments have appeared in The Washington Post, The New York Times, Forbes, Fast Company, and on American Public Media’s Marketplace, as well as in industry magazines such as VM+SD, Brandweek, Chain Leader, QSR, Restaurants & Institutions, Nation’s Restaurant News, and Chain Store Age. Lee is also a frequent speaker on retail issues and trends. He is currently serving on the editorial board of VM+SD, a retail design trade magazine.  He is also an avid cyclist, outdoor enthusiast and lover of Nantucket Island.

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Chicago born, globally educated, 30+ years as a retailer and retail consultant, hammerhead cyclist
  • Posted on: 12/13/2019

    Are customers more loyal to brands or influencers?

    I'm going to give you an "OK Boomer" moment here: I've always been adverse to the whole influencer phenomenon. Yeah, I know it works in some instances but, to me, there's just way too much risk involved, especially the way anyone can dig up anything on anybody now. Is it worth the vetting that would have to take place vs simply doing the right thing as a brand? I guess many have answered yes to that question and there's numbers to bear that out. But to me -- call this opinion Old School -- it sure seems like a passing trend that will fade with the likes of Top 10 K-pop songs and too-skinny jeggings.
  • Posted on: 12/11/2019

    Will same-day delivery make for a merry Old Navy Christmas?

    Same day? What's next, 10 minutes? I don't know, but to me, if I wanted something from Old Navy (which my daughters call "Old Lady"), a day or two would not make a difference, unless I'm late enough to have to do it on the 24th. The real question is; do I want something from Old Navy at all?
  • Posted on: 12/10/2019

    Will female-led pop-ups add pop to Macy’s Christmas?

    Full disclosure; I love pop-ups. Why wouldn't you want to pay two months rent at peak season vs. 12 with 10 iffy months? And if you're a dot-com, it's essential. But -- question for Macy's; isn't this what department stores have done for over a century now? You know -- bring in a hot merchant, if their goods sell, they stay; if not, bye bye? What's new here? The PR? Also, how's that Story thing working out for you on the rev side? Driving sales or just a great looking display? Somehow I'm thinking the latter. Please correct me if wrong.
  • Posted on: 12/09/2019

    How has the retail seasonal hiring playbook changed?

    Hiring pickers and stock associates is MUCH different than finding and hiring attentive sales staff; just look at history. To say nothing of having to compete with Amazon AGAIN, but in a different way. And to have to shift so fast is going to be a challenge. The only point on this is that you'd think (operative term) many of the larger retailers would be all over this fact/action. This Black Friday was definitely a tipping point in a number of ways, and this was a big one.
  • Posted on: 12/06/2019

    To localize stores or not, that is the question for retailers

    Well, define local. I would venture to say that Rough Trade, by the very nature of having employees from New York, has already localized. To me, that's what "local" means: staff. Not pictures of the neighborhood on the walls or some semblance of the local architecture (usually code anyway), it's all about the people. A New York punk in a New York store (any), makes that a local store. Just ask them.
  • Posted on: 12/06/2019

    Will Rent the Runway‘s hotel concierge deal change how people travel?

    Now this is a great idea. I'm imagining packing about half the crap I would normally pack and just renting what I need when I get there. You usually pick the wrong thing somewhere down the line and wind up buying something overpriced anyway (see also: Baja). Dress up? Dress down? Solve it when you get there. I love it. My only question is, from a purely business/investor standpoint is; how big an opportunity is this? Twenty hotels? Thirty? I believe we're talking thousands here, not millions and certainly not billions. Nonetheless this is a great idea and definitely repeatable (by other companies).
  • Posted on: 12/05/2019

    Will Kroger’s dark kitchens cook up something good?

    Dark or "ghost" kitchens are the future not only for grocery, but for fast food restaurants as well. The benefits have mostly to do with the ability to deliver not only to stores but also directly to the consumer from a central facility that costs less, is built for pickup only (rather than shopping) and is staffed by associates that are experts at food. Also, with a large chunk of change going to third parties for delivery now, the "dark" kitchens should alleviate much of that cost -- or at least that's the plan. From a pure grocery standpoint speed and expertise are also the upside, but how well the goods travel is the potential limiting factor/downside. P.S.: H-E-B is well down the road on this idea and it sure looks to me like it is working.
  • Posted on: 11/26/2019

    The RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge: Old Navy vs. T.J. Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods

    It's a tie. They both work in terms of product promotion, humor, quality of production and fun. Since every retailer blindly gives everything away this week, both ads capture awareness as well, which is paramount. What more could you ask for?
  • Posted on: 11/22/2019

    The RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge: Amazon vs. Etsy

    Boy, tough one. I've gotta give it to Amazon though for pulling the heartstrings a little better. Anyone who has worked retail should have a little place in their heart for that mom coming home late during the holidays. Been there!
  • Posted on: 11/21/2019

    Is Target killing department stores and specialty clothing chains?

    Target is a factor for sure, but specialty and department stores rely on selling "fashion" apparel, which is a very slippery category right now. It's slippery because the target demographic (mostly Gen Zers) have moved off the "uniforms" (A&F, AE, GAP, Express) of the '90s that drove specialty retail to over-expand and become mainstays in malls across the country. Hence less footfalls, hence less stores, hence less revenue. The Gen Zers we talk to shop used apparel extensively, plus new brands like DePop, Poshmark, Lively, The RealReal, on and on. The aforementioned '90s brands, like Gap or even Macy's, are seen as "mom's brand" -- which is actually true! But to sum it up, there's macro and micro things going on causing the huge downsizing of specialty retail, and it's not just Target making it happen.
  • Posted on: 11/19/2019

    Chick-fil-A Foundation changes charitable giving and controversy follows

    I heard they're having a hard time recruiting creatives from places like NYC and LA, even with exceptional pay and benefits. Which seems fitting, but not good for the "restaurant of the future" notion. In the end though, to me, it's their call as to what they want to stand for. They should just be aware that a large percentage of people can quickly become informed of their stance, especially if it's 1500s thinking, and act accordingly. And why bring that on? So to me, they need to cool it on the ridiculous statements and ventures (even with charities) and just do what they do best: sell a zillion chicken sammies for everyone.
  • Posted on: 11/19/2019

    Can a Soho pop-up relaunch Tupperware’s party?

    A pop up, this time of year, and the press that comes with it, will certainly help. Two things: 1.) a sense of humor (think Old Spice) works really well in changing brand perception and 2.) great, modern advertising (think Target) also goes a long way toward changing what young people think of a brand they never really thought about. And of course, some solid, innovative product development needs to come first (which it looks like they've done some of). I like the effort -- I could use some of that stuff!
  • Posted on: 11/18/2019

    Dunkin’ introduces online holiday pop-up

    The reality is that this is all just a PR move for branding. But to the question -- heck yes, everyone should try/do this, why not? It's great opportunity to show off what we used to call the "top of the triangle" in terms of product assortment and perhaps attract a new audience. Plus, some of the better PR moves are just plain fun so "why not?" would be a more compelling question.
  • Posted on: 11/15/2019

    Walmart has a too much grocery problem

    Mr. McMillon is correct to focus on general merchandise, but that's a lot easier said than done. For starters, what category? Apparel's in a multi-decade funk as digital natives have totally changed that game. CPG is CPG and there you're up against Amazon and others who sell for super low margins. Broadly, "general merchandise" is another way of saying, "we're not sure what, but the rest of the store." To me the answer lies in a thorough, long term private label strategy, which has never been a Walmart strength. And the road to developing private label is an equally long term play that mostly involves top to bottom talent. In other words, recruiting top flight R&D, brand strategy, packaging, merchandising, social media, etc., people to Bentonville. That means there's lots to do and a long way to go. But if anyone has the wherewithal to do it, it's old blue.
  • Posted on: 11/15/2019

    Should customers just be paid for their data?

    Talk about spreading the wealth, this would work better than over-taxing the rich (mostly because the rich will figure that kind of thing out anyway). There are several advocates for this cause out there now, BUT is it realistic? Let's see, Dear Mr. Zuckerberg, could you please give half your profits to your subscribers? Nice dream, but it ain't gonna happen.

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