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: 11/27/2019

    Will 2020 be the year retailers digitally transform their supply chain ops?

    Price is important, but consumers will ALWAYS select retailers based on the quality of their delivery, returns, and after-the-order service. Blockchain and predictive analytics fueled by AI will likely be the biggest transformational technologies for supply chains. The ability to always understand where items are and where they need to be can separate the leaders from the laggards.
  • Posted on: 11/27/2019

    Big things are happening as Small Business Saturday turns 10

    Too often brands tire of a campaign before it resonates; this is not the case with "Shop Small" and Small Business Saturday. Importantly, the consistency for the Shop Small campaign is reinforced annually but always refreshed. The campaign resonates, but it would be virtually impossible to only shop small.
  • Posted on: 11/26/2019

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

    While the TJX spot earns great marks for making a seasonal connection, the brand plays a very small role which minimizes the impact of the ad. The Old Navy spot is clean and consistent from a brand standpoint. It wins in terms of commanding initial attention and conveying the promotional and seasonal message which will resonate with core shoppers. The "Gifts for Everyone" message will help connect with new shoppers.
  • Posted on: 11/25/2019

    Private label foods need work

    Retailers are only just now waking up to the value of making private label stand out. A key shift for retailers is to think of these as "owned brands" versus private label; a subtle shift to be sure, but everything communicates. Brands offer value and can drive a unique value proposition for consumers whereas private label connotes keeping up with the competition. Elevating owned brands can be done by taking a stand and driving innovation. By offering something different with owned brands vs. private label, retailers win on more than just price.
  • Posted on: 11/01/2019

    Survey says consumers want online orders shipped fast and free

    Brands who seek to make people's lives easier, help them do things faster, and/or save them money will be rewarded. However, once expectations are set, they continue to rise, mostly driven by an expectation of convenience. Amazon has set the bar with fast, free delivery and this is now the standard...until it can be done faster.
  • Posted on: 10/31/2019

    McDonald’s drive-thru AI knows what you want before you order

    There is a fine line between personalization and creepy and only consumers can define for themselves where that line exists. Privacy is becoming a bigger and bigger concern. Efforts like this, which may seem innocuous or something that can drive ease to a retailer, may not be perceived the same by consumers.
  • Posted on: 10/31/2019

    Are retailers out-of-step with consumers when it comes to price?

    Price will always be a key concern for shoppers regardless of how well the economy is doing. Retailers that forget that will repeatedly learn the lesson the hard way. That's not to say that some shoppers and some retailers are price immune, but even for high-end goods, price does play a significant role.
  • Posted on: 10/29/2019

    AI needs to be more than just a bright, shiny object

    As with most technologies, AI is not a solution for all that ails retail. To be most successful, the use of AI must be aligned to fit problems versus a solution in terms of a problem. Key areas to explore include efficiency of operations and better shopper experience.
  • Posted on: 10/28/2019

    What will drive food trends for 2020?

    Regenerative agriculture is the biggest trend we'll see and the one that can benefit our world the most -- literally. How we raise livestock and plants must be done in a sustainable manner for us to be sustained as a society.
  • Posted on: 10/28/2019

    What makes voice assistants creepy?

    Simply put, voice assistants will ALWAYS be creepy. The question of whether this substantial privacy hurdle can be overcome is complicated but also simple. If enough value is created the majority of people will get over it. Credit cards have been breached and social media gives out our data, but we still are addicted to both. Value = stickiness. To fully get over this the model may need to change; perhaps the voice assistant companies should pay consumers to have the devices in-home versus the other way around.
  • Posted on: 10/23/2019

    Do angry shoppers make happier customers?

    I'm angry people wasted time with this study. What brand wants people to be angry? Understanding shopper biases are important, but no one is going to open a store catering to the angry shopper.
  • Posted on: 10/04/2019

    Should companies have to pay you to use your personal data?

    This is a bit contrarian, but we do receive compensation for data. When we download apps or use websites we don't pay for what we use, so advertising and sharing of personal data is the fee for content and services -- whether we like it or not. Of course, most people don't understand the data crumbs we leave or the extent of how that data is used. And much of the data we share (willingly or not) then takes on a life of its own. Better transparency and control are certainly needed so Yang's proposal does have legs.
  • Posted on: 09/12/2019

    In power move, Walmart expands Delivery Unlimited

    Build it and they will come; make it easy and they will keep coming. Walmart's stores offer an advantage for fresh delivery (a key reason Amazon bought Whole Foods) and with their larger customer base, rolling out this service will be a boon to their business and take away from others. Convenience is the name of the game going forward -- the question will be at what price for customers (and if the cost works for Walmart, given the "unlimited" aspect).
  • Posted on: 09/12/2019

    What keeps online shoppers from creating user accounts?

    People prefer to receive communications from brands via email over any other medium -- likely because they then have control of the dialogue. But with so much email to wade through these days people are overwhelmed and can't keep up with their current inbox, so why add more? Combine this with privacy risks plus companies losing personal data and it's a recipe for not signing up. Creating a user account with a retailer is a sign of trust and an expectation of value; smart retailers express the value of the relationship (and expectations) upfront.
  • Posted on: 09/06/2019

    Starbucks developing new store dedicated to pickup and delivery orders

    For Starbucks, which built its business on the idea of becoming a "third place" (outside your home and office), this shift is a (sad) significant one. But one that is becoming ever more a reality as we lead faster-than-ever lives. We want what we want when we want it; foodservice operators able to deliver that will win in today's economy.

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