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: 12/08/2022

    Forever 21 celebrates its one-year ‘meta-versary’

    So according to Mathew Ball, who wrote a very recent book titled "The Metaverse" -- in his own words -- "it doesn't exist yet." So, all there is to say about Forever 21's promo: it's pretty cute. Roblox is essentially a gaming platform.
  • Posted on: 12/07/2022

    Will persistent theft compel Walmart to raise prices or close stores?

    Ahh, the magic words: closing stores --- now coming from a behemoth. Sure, theft is bad, it especially has been these last few years. So here's the plan: if you have a theft problem, just tell the legit customers they're going to have to go online and have it delivered (i.e.: store as a warehouse), and blame the "bad few" that steal. The reality though is, they're going to have to close stores anyway. And sure, theft is a part of the cost problem -- but not as much as operations is. Think of it: labor, inventory, maintenance and just plain keeping the lights on when in fact, you don't have to. I'd say read between the lines on this one.
  • Posted on: 12/06/2022

    Is online grocery shopping a guy thing?

    I hadn't heard/read these studies before, but it doesn't surprise me. I'm the ONLY male I know that actually enjoys shopping. I even like grocery shopping, no kidding. Plus, men have been noted as classic "target" (not the company) shoppers since research began. Paco Underhill even went so far as to call them "exotic pets" in one of his books when they're shopping with women, which says it all. Perhaps if retailers focused on what men DO like about stores, in say, Home Depot, Dick's or Duluth Trading, they might (operative term) be more successful in attracting them to physical retail. In the meantime, it looks like Amazon's got 49 percent of all shoppers in the bag!
  • Posted on: 12/05/2022

    Best Buy’s virtual store pilot earns high customer satisfaction scores

    We did a test with consumers five years ago around this exact concept and people loved the idea. Why is retail so slow compared to the customer? Especially in this day and age of "fail fast"? It's a perplexing and complicated thought rife with thousands of excuses but, to me, this is at least three years late in the making. Perhaps the good results will give a giant hairball company like this more courage. Right on, consumer, lead the way.
  • Posted on: 12/01/2022

    Walgreens rolls out 24/7 delivery and parents with sick kids do the happy dance

    Whenever retailers complain about delivery I always remind them that the pizza guys have been doing it (sometimes a small cheese at $9) for 70 years. There is a tremendous customer benefit and Walgreens will reap the rewards while they figure out how to make it more profitable. CVS though, has always been a fast second and will wait for Walgreens to get the bleeding bugs out, and as us Cubs fans used to say, "it's gonna happen!"
  • Posted on: 11/30/2022

    Was the high-traffic Thanksgiving weekend a promise of things to come?

    All year long the press has been touting inflation and recession and doom and gloom and all year long most retailers numbers have looked great, some fantastic even. I'm starting to wonder if, like the election, we've got a press tuned to the negative while ignoring the positive. But we shall see. I think if we come out of the first quarter in good shape, 2023 is going to be a lot better than we thought.
  • Posted on: 11/22/2022

    How should Mary Dillon reimagine Foot Locker?

    Imagine Foot Locker a LOT hipper. I.e.: dump the referee shirts and start thinking Sneakerhead Capital of Earth: better music, different store design (the whole "athlete" thing is covered quite nicely by Dick's), become more urban in every way, including using technology and social media in advertising as well as ship to home. The concept is tired. The product is not. Lead with the zeitgeist of the product and its main consumer and become an actual experience rather than slat walls of brands that you're an obvious middle-man for. What a great opportunity to re-invent something that's been exactly the same for as long as I can remember. Go for it, Mary. What's the worst that can happen? You get sacked and get a better job.
  • Posted on: 11/21/2022

    Are department store shoppers getting a late start on Christmas or taking a pass?

    I say taking a pass. It's common knowledge that over 65 percent of shoppers online go to Amazon first, and since online shopping is now synonymous with early shopping, guess what? Besides, the department store model itself is broken: curated (by someone in NYC) labels that I can mostly get direct. It seems very 20th century to me. It's going to be a slow, real estate-twisted demise for department stores and each holiday season only accentuates that fact above the roaring PR produced by the vertical. But as someone once said in the '90s, don't believe the hype.
  • Posted on: 11/16/2022

    Aldi Australia vs. Kroger: The RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge

    Both are great but, I don't know about you, after the last three years I'm in the mood for some humor. Aldi really takes the cake between these two. I literally LOLed on the prawns bit, great stuff!
  • Posted on: 11/15/2022

    Retailers have scaled way back on seasonal help for Christmas

    Mistake. The main advantage physical stores have over e-commerce is the associates and their helpfulness, knowledge and just plain humanness. To have customers walking around a packed store asking, "does ANYONE work here?" is a huge mistake that will continue to accentuate the ease and convenience of online shopping. I'd recommend the opposite. This time of year, the sales cost increase will be minimized by the increase in sales and the intangibles, as in a pleasant experience.
  • Posted on: 11/15/2022

    Will two digital-first concepts prove more successful than one for Panera Bread?

    A great test. Smart. A little later than optimal, but better now than not.
  • Posted on: 11/14/2022

    Gap is now selling on Amazon. Desperation or genius move?

    Necessity. When we spoke with the CEO of Victoria's Secret, he informed us they joined AMZN because other people were selling their goods on the site so, to eliminate that activity, they agreed to come on board. I don't see this as being a much different scenario.
  • Posted on: 11/09/2022

    Is transactional data the key to understanding retail customer behavior?

    A former CEO of mine used to say, "you don't know anything until that register rings," which is true. But aside from that, I really believe in observational research. Whether it comes from store managers, buyers, execs of all stripes or the CEOs themselves, nothing beats actual on-site experience. And that goes for online too. How many times have you had an experience with a retailer and said to yourself, "wonder if the CEO knows how hard it is to do X?" In short, if they don't "live" with their own brand, they should.
  • Posted on: 11/09/2022

    What will happen to Kohl’s after Michelle Gass goes to Levi Strauss?

    Well, it's not like she was making anything any better in the first place but, aside from that, I'd say they're going to circle the wagons and start talking to private equity/VC. Go private, close stores, change vendors, announce new smaller stores, bring in a slash-and-burn CEO, rev up a PR campaign about the "NEW" Kohl's and become a much smaller company -- then take it from there.
  • Posted on: 11/03/2022

    DSW is adding shoe repair services throughout its stores

    A better idea would be to do a little repair/cleaning then sell them again: i.e.; create a circular commerce division. A recent study of ours showed that consumers are really looking for that from every retail vertical. Fun shopping, inexpensive and good for the environment -- what's not to like?

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