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: 07/08/2020

    What roles will store displays play in retail’s new normal?

    While displays have changed in terms of items promoted during the pandemic, things will return to "normal" sooner rather than later as displays play a critical role for retailers and brands to promote their products and a critical role in the' bottom line of retailers.
  • Posted on: 07/07/2020

    Macy’s plans for the Christmas rush

    The holiday season will be hard to predict accurately at this point, but we do know this: Crowds drive the Black Friday business model. Crowds don’t make sense today and won't during Black Friday either. But people will still shop, so look for Black Friday to be digital heavier than ever. PS: Will Macy's still around come holiday time?
  • Posted on: 07/06/2020

    Has COVID-19 exacerbated online return challenges?

    The Reverse-Logistics Conundrum of 2020 is real. Buying online is as simple as one click, but returns are much more complicated - for both shoppers and retailers. The e-commerce winners will be those who make BOTH buying and returning easy.
  • Posted on: 07/06/2020

    Walmart debuts virtual summer camp and drive-in movie programs

    You had us at Neil Patrick Harris and camp. Walmart is taking the idea of retailtainment to a new high. They are showing huge empathy to shoppers at a time that matters. Bravo!
  • Posted on: 06/19/2020

    Has the pandemic proven Instacart’s business model?

    Instacart has only proven that they can move nimbly during a crisis, the real trick will be if they can become a profitable, sustainable business. Beating Walmart in the grocery business and achieving a stunning $13.7 billion+ valuation are vanity metrics. It took a pandemic to get consumer demand for e-commerce grocery shopping in the U.S. to where it should have been years ago. Instacart has multiple factors going for them that CAN position them as the "go to" for grocery delivery (for both consumers and retailers) but we all loved Webvan, too...
  • Posted on: 06/16/2020

    Walmart teams up with Shopify to give Amazon a run for its money

    While bringing Shopify under its wing, Walmart won't bring Amazon to its knees, but it's a smart move. Expanding its marketplace is better news for the thousands of companies using Shopify and for consumers, too. Of course, Walmart will get more traffic, revenue, and sales (product and ads) of its own products which are perhaps the Trojan Horse.
  • Posted on: 05/29/2020

    Has this digital fashion platform figured out personalized recommendations?

    Many have claimed to hit personalization right, but it's hard to do. Bravo if The Yes can leverage computer vision, natural language processing, and artificial intelligence (AI) to deliver truly personalized fashion recommendations. But the real question for personalization is, will this drive better conversion and sales? Furthermore, fashion is fickle; if The Yes delivers personalized recommendations based on my preferences I'm more likely to dress like it's the 1990s than like it's the 2020s, and that's not a good thing (trust me).
  • Posted on: 05/15/2020

    Are Amazon’s at-cost face shields an act of goodwill or predatory behavior?

    Private label or "own brands" have existed since the dawn of retail and there has always been tension between retailers and brands as a result. While Amazon can certainly afford to give these away for free, there is nothing wrong with covering their costs of manufacture.
  • Posted on: 05/13/2020

    Americans are shopping more impulsively online

    With so much out of our hands, it's quite reasonable to feel confused, bothered, frustrated, and for many depressed. Behavioral science tells us that when people lack overall control, they often seek to find something smaller they CAN control. Buying supplies for our household makes us feel better because there is at least SOMETHING we can do in a world upended. Impulse buying of this type will likely continue for some time until restrictions are fully lifted (if ever).
  • Posted on: 05/12/2020

    What has made Walmart a shutdown star?

    Beyond the sizable store base, best-in-class supply chain capabilities, and shrewd omnichannel investments, Walmart has benefited most by acting in a nimble, shopper-first manner. Their speed to market with offerings and communication are lessons many other retailers can learn from.
  • Posted on: 05/12/2020

    PepsiCo launches direct-to-consumer sites for its brands

    Beverages and snacks are key categories for at-home consumption regardless of the pandemic. During COVID-19 this will be an option and will likely do moderately well. After the pandemic there will be many more options; most shoppers buy based on convenience and want more one-stop shopping.
  • Posted on: 04/29/2020

    Will shoppers go to the mall because Simon says it’s okay?

    Retailers deciding to open does not equal shoppers shopping. Shopper confidence has been shot from an emotional, physical, and financial perspective. Recovery will take time. Most shoppers will likely be reluctant to shop not knowing what retailers will be open. Here in Georgia, some non-essential businesses opened this weekend to lines and some had zero shoppers over the weekend. Opening right now is a crap shoot.
  • Posted on: 04/17/2020

    Has COVID-19 transformed Gen-Z forever?

    It's too early to say, but being shut in for key periods of development (high school, college, etc.) will certainly shape how they live their lives in the future. Gen-Z are tech-savvy from birth and are the true digital natives with an average "eight-second filter" to gauge whether something is worth their attention. Seeing parents lose jobs, having internships and summer jobs canceled and more is likely to make Gen-Z spend more conservatively in the future.
  • Posted on: 04/16/2020

    DSW tries to make itself ‘essential’ with Hy-Vee partnership

    While COVID-19 has shifted shopper behavior to be more digital, the fact that 80 percent to 90 percent of retail sales were from physical stores means that retailers who were deemed "non-essential" will need to be VERY creative to get back the majority of their businesses that were lost. Retailers like DSW that relied on browsing may just be out of luck in the post-pandemic world. This partnership is creative, but won't stop the bleeding.
  • Posted on: 04/16/2020

    What will be retail’s new normal if social distancing stays in place until 2022?

    At this point, it's hard to imagine we can return to the way things were before COVID-19 came on to the scene. Regardless of when restrictions will be lifted, many of the social distancing measures put in place will likely be required longer term: 6-foot separation for lines, reduced number of shoppers allowed at stores, more room between diners, and contactless payments.

Contact Michael

  • Apply to be a BrainTrust Panelist

  • Please briefly describe your qualifications — specifically, your expertise and experience in the retail industry.
  • By submitting this form, I give you permission to forward my contact information to designated members of the RetailWire staff.

    See RetailWire's privacy policy for more information about what data we collect and how it is used.