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: 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a world that has given us Amazon Go, today’s clunky self-checkout technology (requiring intervention constantly) seems outdated.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.
  • Posted on: 01/21/2020

    Does convenience trump price for today’s consumer?

    It's hard to beat the convenience of Amazon. Shoppers don't always believe they have the best prices, but they likely have whatever you are looking for and can get it to you fast. Helping shoppers find what they want fast will be the key to future shopping. Retailers must invest in technology to make shopping faster...and better.
  • Posted on: 01/20/2020

    What does it take to create a risk-taking, innovating retail culture?

    A "stage gate" process is not the key to create a more risk-taking, innovative retail culture; it can actually do the opposite and stifle innovation. An open culture is required to drive risk taking and innovation - open to ideas and open to the prospect of failure as long as it leads to learning. Fail forward, fast, and cheaply rather than wait!
  • Posted on: 01/02/2020

    California’s new privacy laws may trigger a wave

    There is no "may" about it. Californa's new law has already had a major impact on marketers...and consumers, but they don't know it yet. CCPA will have a major impact on retailers; those with an already strong, value-enhancing relationship will benefit while those who have offered little to consumers will lose. Reliance on third-party data will likely wane over the next few years as CCPA and similar laws thin the herd of sellers.
  • Posted on: 12/27/2019

    The RetailWire Christmas Commercial Challenge: The Final Competition

    Target for the Win! The spot makes a real connection with the audience, tapping into the season in a way that is not too over-the-top. The message conveyed aligns with the core brand beliefs and Target's benefit proposition for the holidays resonates with viewers in an energetic manner. Happy Holidays!
  • Posted on: 12/27/2019

    Walmart hires remodeling squad

    The Walmart model places appropriate attention on store remodels which are critical to an aging retail real estate infrastructure. A better, more focused system is required that does not completely disrupt retail operations during remodels. No surprise that Walmart has found a better solution.
  • Posted on: 12/26/2019

    Will we see AI’s impact on 2019 holiday results?

    All retailers are chasing the Holy Grail of AI solving their major issues. Today's AI is far from realizing its potential to improve retail decisions, especially as shopping is not always a rational pursuit.
  • Posted on: 12/26/2019

    Is Super Saturday rivaling Black Friday in importance?

    This year had the most compressed holiday shopping period possible, so every day was more critical than in previous years. Retailers have realized that the holiday shopping season has become less a sprint and more a marathon, focusing on a variety of offers for shoppers based on timing. Executing all the holiday shopping days in a smart, data-led, omnichannel-forward manner is becoming more critical.
  • Posted on: 12/23/2019

    Giant thinks AR-games are ripe for grocery aisles

    I'm in the holiday spirit! Giant's holiday AR program conjures visions of sugar plum fairies and little children running unattended through the store. Wait, children running through stores looking at mobile phones does not sound like a recipe for retail success...
  • Posted on: 12/23/2019

    Is Wawa in hot water over its data breach?

    News of data breaches has, unfortunately, become commonplace. And with few exceptions, again, unfortunately the news of such attacks goes away within the next few news cycles. So, likely this will be a blip on the screen and the majority of Wawa's loyal shoppers will still shop with them. With the coming of CCPA and other future privacy regulations, however, privacy issues may become more and more a part of the conversation.

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