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: 08/09/2022

    Will a new store design turn Abercrombie & Fitch into a getaway shopping destination?

    It's hard to judge without being there, especially since these photos depict a very "normal" looking store. Seems the product (lifestyle oriented) is the difference more than anything, which either was or could've been tested anywhere so I would reserve judgement until visiting. But I will say this: Milan and Del Amo? Huh? I'm not sure what either of those locations would get you, especially Milan. I find that strategy very suspect in terms of what you would learn in order to scale the idea. If the Italian unit goes crazy volume-wise, then what? More units in Italy/Europe? Thought you just closed a bunch of those. Anyway, this is kind of a wait-and-see effort all around. Let's check on this idea in February.
  • Posted on: 08/05/2022

    Is TikTok becoming a bridal shopping portal?

    Forget bridal, it's everything, everywhere, and now with music -- look out. I saw a job posting for a couture brand yesterday listed as "Head of TikTok." I gotta say, I left that one alone and probably shouldn't have. I think Twitter put me over the edge, but TikTok's like -- wow, got it going on!
  • Posted on: 08/04/2022

    Is Walmart’s HQ reorg a good thing or cause for concern?

    Seems more like they're shifting to meet current business needs than undertaking dreaded cutbacks, so this is business as usual. The press over-reacting is my take.
  • Posted on: 08/03/2022

    The Nordstrom tire return story is true

    Stories go a long way, especially when a brand first enters a market. When Whole Foods came into this market, a woman shopping for pickles was helped by a manager who cracked five jars for her to test and when she found the one she liked, he said "this one's on us." That story circulated in the neighborhood then throughout the city for over a year, like an urban legend. But it worked. Whole Foods is massively popular here. Stories will definitely aid in the success of a brand and will even develop a life of their own. But don't forget, it works the same way with bad stories and those can happen at any time and just as easily.
  • Posted on: 07/29/2022

    Kohl’s throws back with Levi’s

    A bit of a coup for Kohl's to score interesting versions of a hot brand because, well, they're NOT. Having said that, this doesn't seem like a big traffic driver. It's more of what the Kohl's brand needs to re-invigorate, but certainly isn't a silver bullet on its own. But it's the right track for sure. And as for Levi's ... really? I guess old relationships die slowly. One more chance?
  • Posted on: 07/28/2022

    Are mobile devices creating connected store associates yet?

    What's always amazed me is how far ahead restaurants are in this area. Just about anywhere you go to eat now is awash in QR codes, hand helds, fast check out, etc. Retailers: why is that? What's the hold up? Remember when Old Navy put earphones on floor employees, like, 15 years ago? Why didn't the next steps occur, as in hand helds, inventory, ship-to-home and QR codes galore? Amazon is the only retailer IMO that's truly vested in technology, and the results speak for themselves. In any case, to answer the question: you bet the experience (for retailers) is falling short, and if you don't think so, go to a restaurant for proof.
  • Posted on: 07/27/2022

    Can Walmart roll back inflation?

    Walmart can help a little bit as they do seem to have a moral streak (save money, live better), but how 'bout if we go after the oil companies and tax their massive profits (off intentionally inflated prices)? A 21% proposal was bantered around but went nowhere -- try that and watch the pressure ease off us car-crazy US consumers. It always amazes me how we look at politicians when gas prices go up when in fact, they have nothing at all to do with that. Let's get the real bad guys for a change.
  • Posted on: 07/26/2022

    Best Buy offers a new way to shop with its first-ever digital-first small box store

    We surveyed over 2,500 people (US) about 4 years ago on the idea of a showroom store and for CE in particular with spectacular results, so, this is going to work. Point is, if we knew that, BBY had to have known as well, which then begs the question; what took so long? Such an obvious test should've been executed, de-bugged and rolled out by now, reducing space (cost), improving fulfillment and making it easier for customers and modern shopping in general. Does not bode well for them to be so far behind, IMO; too focused on short term thinking is the message.
  • Posted on: 07/26/2022

    Will Target’s ‘stores-as-hubs’ strategy get turbocharged by sortation centers?

    Man, you gotta love the Nipper. This is a great move (stores as fulfillment centers) as is the smaller, more local store idea they've been executing for years now. Way ahead on all counts. I'd like to see more showroom stores from them to open up the rest of the space they have for fulfillment, but other than that, truly THE brand to watch in terms of physical store forward moves.
  • Posted on: 07/25/2022

    Lowe’s gives full-time store staff the option of a four-day work week

    The option? That's funny! I think, expense wise, we're at the beginning of figuring this all out -- almost like marketing: does it help you recruit and retain? Will it create a better "vibe" on the sales floor? And what is that worth comp'd to the cost of a "free" day? Hats off to Lowe's for testing the waters, but the book is still out on this one.
  • Posted on: 07/18/2022

    Is closing stores the best solution to Starbucks’ safety concerns?

    Having worked in several "troubled" stores before, I can testify that many situations in environments like that (which thankfully they didn't detail) are not only dangerous but can cause a lifetime of stressful memories, i.e.; PTSD. The decision to close the stores is the right one when the negative outweighs the positive, which is a sad thing for customers that love the product, but undoubtedly the best thing for the staff and even the reputation of the brand. When it gets to the point of having armed guards/security present just to do business, I'd say it's just not worth it.
  • Posted on: 07/14/2022

    When did Walgreens’ associates become the contraceptive police?

    A moral objection to contraception? Is this circa 1522? Wow. Anyway, the stores that should have this policy are the gun stores, but I guess that's a giant can of worms. In principle, Walgreens' policy is a good one, as long as the customer is served. However there are so many things now that fall under the category of "moral," they're really asking for a plethora of new problems you can only hope could be managed.
  • Posted on: 07/07/2022

    Are Walmart+ members ready to invite the retailer into their homes?

    We just completed a study that showed that consumers were (surprisingly) very open to retailers coming into their homes and helping with support for goods they purchase. So I definitely understand why Walmart is doing this: it's working. But I have to question the product solution offered. Grocery? Or putting away groceries? It has worked for years for Best Buy and Geek Squad with CE and if you've ever used Geek Squad, you know -- it really works. But again, grocery? Getting groceries to a home is one thing, but having someone peruse the refrigerator and pantry is a whole 'nuther ballgame. Unless of course you're elderly or infirm. Anyway it's an idea that, given what we know, will work. But I think the scale of it depends heavily on what it is you're going in there for. Great effort though, I like it a lot -- for sure.
  • Posted on: 07/06/2022

    H&M discovers it’s not easy being green

    Saying you're "green" is a little like saying you're a "cool" brand. Don't say it, just do it. We'll be the judges of those two attributes, thank you.
  • Posted on: 07/05/2022

    Is Amazon taking its foot off the Prime Day marketing pedal?

    I read that they're going to do a second Prime Day closer to holiday so, as suggested, perhaps Prime Day is becoming just a promotional tool. Having said that, with Amazon, I feel like you're always waiting for the next bombshell of an idea, which I would expect to be coming soon -- whatever that may be. Look out below would be my best advice. Also, we learned a long time ago that retail promotions all have a sand dial on them. They fade as sure as the consumer's ADD will move on to the next shiny object. So I think you have to give Amazon credit for the staying power of Prime Day thus far and, as stated above, to look out for the next bombshell. They have certainly never rested on their laurels so heads up, all.

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