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: 01/06/2021

    How did QR codes go from DOA to killer app?

    QR codes did not change, we did. Or more specifically, the world around the QR code changed drastically. A few factors led to "killer app" status:
    • The ability for mobile phone cameras to seamlessly read QR codes;
    • Faster devices and networks to go from code to web;
    • Better consumer understanding of the technology
    • Desire for a more touchless world due to COVID-19
    • Broader usage across industries.
  • Posted on: 12/22/2020

    Do retailer TikTok campaigns tick the right boxes?

    For a retailer like Dunkin' a fresh way to look at the menu can resonate on TikTok. For many retailers, however, a foray into TikTok will likely be fraught with issues.
  • Posted on: 12/22/2020

    Is free at-home pick-up of online returns practicable?

    A win for consumers, but this is another logistical and financial hit to retailers. If Walmart can pull this off, Amazon will likely follow, and the rest of the retail world will shudder (and maybe shutter).
  • Posted on: 12/21/2020

    How is Nike excelling at driving loyalty with digital?

    Membership engagement is critical to Nike and all other brands. The lesson: behind simple "engagement" is a fully thought out digital ecosystem to acquire, understand, and motivate members built out over a number of years. While Nike's CEO said "it's not one thing," he's wrong; a maniacal focus on the customer is that one thing all retailers (and brands) can focus on for growth.
  • Posted on: 12/21/2020

    Facebook and Apple battle over the internet’s future

    Web browsers and mobile operating systems have begun restricting the use of third-party cookies and mobile identifiers, which have been used for years by retailers to deliver relevant ads and enable critical measurement. While Google and Apple claim this is about honoring consumer privacy, it's not the only motivation. These moves personally benefit them, because their direct customer relationships will keep them relatively unaffected while many other identity solutions are weakened. The clearest, closest path for retailer digital success and growth is to dive deeper into first-party data strategies.
  • Posted on: 12/09/2020

    Are retargeted ads better at driving sales or annoying shoppers?

    Do retargeted ads drive sales or annoy shoppers? Yes. These answers are not mutually exclusive. There is a difference between the recommended "optimal frequency cap" and the real-world experience. Clearly retargeting works to boost sales, but it also works to bother shoppers at the same time. In fact, it can turn shoppers off entirely. Just because technology can do something does not mean it should.
  • Posted on: 12/03/2020

    Are endless aisles more trouble than they’re worth for retailers?

    Culling the herd is a natural part of life and managing the endless aisle requires just that: management. Too much of anything causes problems. A third-party marketplace approach is one thing -- sourcing, managing, selling, and fulfilling an unending assortment of items is bad business. Just because you can, does not mean you should with SKU proliferation. Many CPG companies are now realizing this and pulling back on "vampire SKUs" that steal resources from the business.
  • Posted on: 11/24/2020

    What will an ex Crate & Barrel CEO bring to her new job leading CVS Pharmacy?

    Ms. Montgomery will bring a broader perspective and focus to CVS. Her experience should help CVS create a more unique position in the market as well as accelerate e-commerce and digital capabilities. And maybe there will be a catalog, too?
  • Posted on: 11/24/2020

    Target CEO points to one-stop shopping as key to chain’s success

    Just when you think Target is on a roll -- their CEO claims their success is due to "one-stop shopping"? C'mon. If that's the case, Amazon and Walmart will win as they offer better selection and (mostly) better pricing. If other retailers heed Target's advice and expand their assortment it will be a losing strategy. Target's recent success is due to multiple factors: pre-pandemic emphasis on digital options, ability to pivot in an agile manner, and most likely a loyal shopper base because of Target's unique assortment and good pricing.
  • Posted on: 11/23/2020

    Will sports marketing become a victim of the pandemic?

    The pre-pandemic model of escalating contracts and fees for sports was unsustainable. Post-pandemic, sports (like all industries) face a reckoning based on their business model's new reality. With changes to seasons and schedules wreaking havoc on sports, many viewers figured out they have better things to do than keep up with the everchanging seasons that may not "count" in their eyes.
  • Posted on: 11/16/2020

    Will pop-up e-commerce fulfillment centers help Walmart manage demand?

    During a pandemic, we expect to see all-time highs in terms of e-commerce orders over the holidays. Pop-up e-commerce fulfillment will create additional capacity for online orders and streamline operations as long as the staff has been properly trained.
  • Posted on: 11/16/2020

    Are garages optimal delivery drop-off points?

    Securing packages isn't top of mind for all consumers but, for those who do have concerns, Amazon Key is a valuable service. Since those that are security-minded will be the main audience for Amazon Key, the extra steps to ensure the identity of the delivery drivers will be most welcome.
  • Posted on: 10/30/2020

    Will Walmart’s new lab stores cook up something big?

    Most times when retailers make claims they are changing in a "way that has yet to be seen across the retail industry" or that they will turn checkout from "a transactional experience into a relational one” it does not turn out great. Let's focus on checkout, most - if not all - shoppers just want to get in and out fast. They don't want a "relationship" which has previously taken the form of providing a phone number and email addresses. The relationship they want is faster service and better prices versus over-promises.
  • Posted on: 10/28/2020

    DTC brand Mack Weldon proves a good fit for consumers living through the pandemic

    DTC brands offering comfortable alternatives, and useful options, for stay-at-home times will resonate. Brands that tap into the social consciousness of our society have long been successful -- think about the following:
    • "Rosie the Riveter" during World War II (patriotism in war time);
    • "I'd Like to Buy the World a Coke" in the early 1970s (coming together);
    • Apple's "1984" Mac Intro (personal freedom).
    Crafting messaging by analyzing - and combining - fundamental human, cultural, and brand truths will break through -- and sell (DTC or not).
  • Posted on: 10/28/2020

    Will Shopify merchants go viral with their TikTok videos?

    Offering a selling platform with flexibility allows sellers options, the TikTok partnership does not guarantee virality. The integration speaks to Shopify's vision to enable sellers to sell everywhere, compared to Amazon's walled-garden platform. The more Shopify offers flexibility and integrations the stickier the platform.

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