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: 03/27/2020

    Should marketers ditch celebrities for micro-influencers?

    As with most strategic questions, there's no one-size-fits-all answer to the influencer question. Working with higher profile - and even celebrity -- influencers is expensive and often the juice is not worth the squeeze. Trust, authenticity, and loyalty are typically greater with micro-influencers. Questions to help brands decide what influencers to work with include:
    • Does the influencer's brand match yours?
    • What are the influencer’s engagement metrics?
    • Does the micro-influencer have the (engaged) followers to successfully move the needle to sell your products?
    Lastly, before investing, agree on how you’re going to keep score: brand exposure and reach, increase in engagements and interactions, an increase in sales — or a combination of these.
  • Posted on: 03/19/2020

    Food retailers go on a hiring spree as coronavirus numbers grow

    Strange times indeed. Foodservice companies are barely staying afloat while food retailers struggle to keep up with demand. Yesterday while getting a prescription at Kroger it was difficult to navigate the aisles given all the click-and-collect trolleys in-store. Adding more employees can help reduce the burden on existing employees, but there must be adequate time for training on procedures (safety as well as operational).
  • Posted on: 03/17/2020

    Retailers act to protect seniors from coronavirus shopping chaos and contamination

    The bottom line? We need to protect those at most risk in our society; today's COVID-19 infected world calls for new ways of doing business. Early shopping for seniors has been a call for a while now and it makes sense as this is when the stores are at their cleanest and best stocked for those who need it (perhaps most). We're all in this together, setting aside a few hours a few days per week does not seem to be asking too much of our society.
  • Posted on: 03/16/2020

    Which retailers are less vulnerable to the coronavirus and whatever comes next?

    There's no question we are headed for a recession. The impact of school and business closings and overall uncertainty from coronavirus for most of America will no doubt create a recession. Grocery - and those selling food - are best positioned to withstand the storm as they are essential.
  • Posted on: 03/16/2020

    Should retail close?

    Hard times require hard decisions. This is an unprecedented period in the history of the world. What seemed crazy two weeks ago is not out of the realm of possibility. The financial impact of retail store closings is immense, but this seems inevitable. Not acting now can literally cost lives, maybe not of retail associates, but of customers. However, the issue is not the same for Nike and Lululemon as it is for the majority of retail establishments that are small- to medium-sized businesses who can't afford to shut down and still pay employees.
  • Posted on: 02/26/2020

    Will fulfilling third-party vendor orders give Walmart an edge over Amazon?

    While this is a smart move for Walmart, it's not enough to close the 33 percentage point share gap between them and Amazon. But it will help grow the business for Walmart and attract more shoppers.
  • Posted on: 02/26/2020

    Will a CEO’s crowdsourcing plea save Modell’s Sporting Goods?

    Simply put: No, this will not help. It smells of desperation. I guess it's hard to tell your CEO no, but they should have.
  • Posted on: 02/26/2020

    Independent grocers need to make dramatic upgrades in marketing tech

    Getting to know your customers to better serve them should always be the goal. Today that means understanding their behavior and preferences through data. A high-performing CRM program is table stakes at this point (note: this does not need to be a rewards program). Data is the fuel for expansion and growth; a lack of data leads to stagnation and decline.
  • Posted on: 02/21/2020

    Unilever will end marketing to young kids to fight childhood obesity

    Unilever is certainly taking a step in the right direction, but this - by itself - will not solve childhood obesity. Childhood obesity is a complex issue; solving it will require collaboration between manufacturers, retailers, governments, and (importantly) parents. Interesting that there is no information as to whether Unilever will reformulate all products to be healthier...
  • Posted on: 02/19/2020

    Will store associates become the ultimate personalization tool at retail?

    Back to the Future? Store associates knowing their shoppers?!? What is happening here? Smart retailers have always known that a good staff is a secret weapon. Chick-fil-a and Nordstrom have known this for years and have outpaced the competition in sales. Using technology to help accelerate associate learning, familiarity, and helping shoppers is becoming more and more table stakes at retail.
  • Posted on: 02/19/2020

    Shoppers have a love/hate relationship with self-checkouts

    On the whole self-checkout is a positive, offering more convenience than hassle, but the technology needs significant improvement to ensure current shopper frustrations are eliminated. In a world that has given us Amazon Go, today’s clunky self-checkout technology (requiring intervention constantly) seems outdated.
  • Posted on: 02/18/2020

    Does Peapod’s retreat from the Midwest spell trouble for e-grocery?

    US online grocery is small but on a rapid rise. The market has grown from $12B in 2016 to $34B in 2019. There is plenty of room to increase as the size of the overall grocery market is over $635B. Big grocery players are investing in e-commerce infrastructure, forcing the smaller players to offer digital services to stay competitive. But almost everyone is losing money. And adoption is low, with 10% of US consumers saying they regularly shop online for groceries. It is against this background that Peapod closed its Midwest operations this past week. Once a leader in the space, the closing shows how difficult (and expensive) it is to build out a grocery delivery program. Maybe everyone wants to buy their groceries online, but nobody wants to pay the true cost?
  • Posted on: 02/11/2020

    Brandless halts operations. What went wrong?

    In 2020 companies need to be nimble. Brandless locking themselves into a brand proposition that locked them into a pricing model was not a smart move. The dollar store model works because when you go in you make lots of impulse purchases. This doesn't happen as much online. Introducing store brands from a store you trust breeds trust. Introducing a new brand to create store brands that look boring and simple does not engender loyalty.
  • Posted on: 01/28/2020

    Will online food and beverage sales be even bigger than imagined?

    When consumer expectations for greater convenience are raised we never go back; as online grocery adoption increases, sales will continue to increase at a rapid clip. Making it easy to trial online grocery will accelerate the shift and be welcomed by time-starved shoppers.
  • Posted on: 01/27/2020

    Forget football, the Super Bowl is all about the food!

    The focus on food for the Super Bowl (oops, I meant to say Big Game) and occasion-based shopper marketing programs - such as those featuring parties - serve to remind shoppers to buy across the store. Integrated programs (digital and in-store) reinforce the need to buy and help shoppers remember what they might otherwise forget. Offering tips throughout the shopping journey (plates, cups, napkins, decor, ice, etc.) can increase the urgency of purchase.

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