PROFILE

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
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  • Posted on: 06/05/2020

    Will the post-COVID-19 world be less global?

    To a degree, many industries simply can't "de-globalize" without a major re-tooling of every piece of their product's life. Like apparel. The ability to produce quality garments en masse at low prices (operative term) in-country for most large retailers would require years of set up and labor negotiations, to put it mildly. In short, sure, globalization is going to slow down a bit but, in fact, so is everything for that matter.
  • Posted on: 06/03/2020

    Is the future of retailing going dark?

    I firmly believe much of physical retail will evolve into two things: fulfillment centers and playgrounds -- one is for convenience the other for experience, with the premier being the larger number. The days of opening stores to lift your stock price are over.
  • Posted on: 06/01/2020

    Retail ensnared in nationwide protests

    Solidarity behind this movement is the only way forward. It's obviously long overdue. Fighting fire with fire does NOT work, and after multiple abhorrent incidents like that of last week, I don't see how you can take any other stance.
  • Posted on: 05/29/2020

    Is purposeful giving an answer to retail’s inventory glut?

    It's the right thing to do, it's the human thing to do, so there shouldn't be a question about it IMO. Take a page from REI or Patagonia, who have been doing things like this for a long time and building tremendous brand equity. I hope even Nike takes a page from their own credo and just do it too.
  • Posted on: 05/28/2020

    Retailers focus on making safe spaces for customers and associates

    Much has been published on this, including a great downloadable (free) extensive PDF from Kroger that I would highly recommend, so I won't bore you by recounting it. My first tactic as a retailer would certainly be to check Kroger's process out and implement training, but also to emulate Costco's policy: No mask, no service. I guess many people don't understand that masks are about protecting others and are a courtesy to others, NOT about protecting yourself. Maybe they do and don't care but, once explained, if a customer doesn't care about others, it's bye bye for them in my book. I'm exhausted by this age of division and indifference to other humans, go somewhere else and get people sick. Signs would be included. :)
  • Posted on: 05/27/2020

    Is Walmart about to become the king of online resale retailing?

    Everyone disses Amazon for folding brands into their marketplace and then knocking them off. Walmart does the same only a little more honestly through acquisition/partnership: Jet, Bonobos, Modcloth, Eloqui, etc. So hopefully we "get" the pattern; partner with, acquire talent, then dump the brand and use the talent and what you learned for the mothership. Welcome to 21st century retail: Big fish eat little fish.
  • Posted on: 05/21/2020

    Was the $3.3 billion Walmart spent on Jet.com worth it?

    Acquisitions aren't only to add revenue to the coffers -- the knowledge gained and the talent that took Walmart to a new level (as witnessed last quarter) were all well worth the relative pocket change involved in the transaction. They had to take a leap to get close to Amazon's level, and they did. So, to me: victory. Good call. P.S.: another one to add to the pile of good calls this last decade.
  • Posted on: 05/19/2020

    Has the pandemic transformed Walmart into an unstoppable force?

    All things to all people all the time, wow. Decades of success, failure, success has led this behemoth to a new level of mass retail. Hats off to them for staying relevant and standing up to the 900-pound gorilla. Impressive decade and more to come.
  • Posted on: 05/19/2020

    Is Amazon about to buy J.C. Penney?

    You know, we just haven't seen Amazon really blow up in physical retail yet, even when they could (Whole Foods, 4-star, Amazon Books, Amazon Go, Amazon Fresh) -- they seem more apt to test and learn from physical rather than having as many units as J.C. Penney has. Now if they want them for their new pick-up and deliver only model, that would be more in line with their culture. In any case, if they took action it wouldn't be business as usual with J.C. Penney, which is OK by consumers apparently!
  • Posted on: 05/12/2020

    What has made Walmart a shutdown star?

    We all spent the early-'00s dissing Walmart, but boy did they prove us wrong. They started creating better health care choices in their stores from proactive (organic food, private label) to reactive (minute clinics, pharma, eye care, etc.) more than 10 years ago. They had over 1,000 stores with excellent BOPIS before COVID-19 and have created employee training schools that are unparalleled in the retail world. IMO, they have always been the only retail brand that saw Amazon coming and said, "not in my house" and have competed with them on every level. Given only the above (as just a piece of their success -- see also: logistics genius), if they come out of this situation stronger than ever, they totally deserve it. Sure it's great to have the wherewithal, but it's more than that. They've had the foresight and the guts to execute as well. Hats off Wally, sorry to ever doubt you, even if it was 20 years ago!
  • Posted on: 05/11/2020

    What should retailers do about social distancing renegades?

    Social distancing "renegades"? You mean rude, dangerous idiots? Unfortunately the best an associate, unaccustomed to such behavior, can do is politely ask them to comply. I heard Whole Foods will pass out masks, which would alleviate some of the issue, but in that case it could be said right at the door: "no mask, no entry." Kind of like the old, "no shirt or shoes, no service." Individual store policy is within the rights of the retailer to enforce. Just ask Hobby Lobby. I do agree with Dick in any case. This is not about liberty AT ALL. You can go ahead and get yourself sick if you're so inclined (or drive 140 on the freeway), but please have the courtesy to keep others' health and safety out of your dumb choices.
  • Posted on: 05/08/2020

    Gap plans move into non-apparel categories

    From studies we've done around the question of how retailers can attract more traffic, the #1 draw to over 4,000 consumers was food; some form of nosh, with coffee playing a role as well. Moving into home goods though, didn't even make the top 12. So given that data, I'd have to caution that it's going to be rough sledding for them. Just ask Pier 1.
  • Posted on: 05/07/2020

    Is curbside pickup just getting started?

    We did a study five years ago on BOPIS and we were shocked at the strength of the results. You can just multiply that by 10 now. It's no longer a "nice to have." Pickup at store (where the retailer puts the goods in the trunk, by the way) is now a "must have."
  • Posted on: 05/07/2020

    Is it time to move beyond ‘now more than ever’ COVID-19 commercials?

    I don't know about you all, but I'm COVID-19 burned out. All the way around. EVERY story in the news, ALL advertising, EVERY business conversation. I had an associate take a day off just to clear their head, good idea! I get it, but let's move on to the new world.
  • Posted on: 05/06/2020

    Customers ask Wendy’s, ‘Where’s the beef?’

    Can you hear the vegans laughing/clapping? Me too, they live with me. Anyway, over the last two months, everyone's out of something all the time, including the behemoths like Amazon and Walmart. So I believe everyone will get a pass given the circumstances and if you're a Wendy's fan, for example, you'll be back, checking. Also agree with Gregory that the "fresh card" is the glass-half-full side of this for Wendy's, although I'm sure their shareholders will see it a little differently.

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