IGA Acquires Management Consulting Service What Brands Want, LLC

Mar 2, 2023

The Independent Grocers Alliance (IGA) is proud to announce that IGA has entered into an agreement to acquire the management consulting service What Brands Want, LLC. As part of that acquisition, Owner Michael La Kier will lead IGA’s Red Oval partner relationships (a role formerly held by Heidi Huff) as Vice President, Brand Development. 

“After building What Brands Want, LLC for the past ten years, I’m excited for the next phase of growth as part of the IGA Family, bringing new, expanded resources to our existing partners,” La Kier said. “I am thrilled to join IGA on their mission to aid independent grocers as they work tirelessly to nourish families in their local communities, and I look forward to partner with manufacturers and other partners to highlight the business value of working with independent retailers in the grocery channel.” 

The IGA Red Oval program offers strategic support for manufacturers, helping them market to independent retailers and their shoppers. “Nearly every major brand in the grocery industry is a member of the IGA Red Oval program,” IGA CEO John Ross said. “The program provides analytics, marketing strategy, co-marketing opportunities, and more.”

What Brands Want, LLC is a management consultancy, working with clients in and out of the grocery/CPG space. La Kier uses proven marketing and data analyst tools to help brands identify opportunities and build strategies to win.

What Brands Want, LLC has helped a diverse set of brands, including Gannett/USA Today Network, General Mills, Walmart, Meat & Livestock Australia, Barilla, Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, Food Channel, The Salvation Army, Sandwich America, TOP Chops Beef Jerky, Johnson & Johnson, Cardtronics, SellCheck, and Spyderlynk. These efforts include strategy, branding, go-to-market plans, and development of compelling omnichannel marketing plans to engage audiences via content, media, and partnerships.

“Michael’s work building What Brand Want puts him in the perfect position to take our Red Oval partnership to the next level,” Ross said. “With Michael on board, IGA can continue to do what we do best — serve independent grocers — while growing our value for CPGs and manufacturing partners, which in turn allows us to provide even more value and resources to our retailers.”

La Kier has had a variety of roles in shopper marketing, loyalty, digital marketing, and brand management during an impressive 15+ year career at The Coca-Cola Company. Key accomplishments included:

  • Created a shopper marketing strategy & capability team to support all U.S. retail customers, where he established a breakthrough digital shopper marketing innovation practice
  • Served as general manager for My Coke Rewards®, where he built a consumer-engaging and award-winning loyalty program to over 20 million members
  • Led the POWERADE® business in North America to become a billion-dollar brand

La Kier also served as an on-loan executive to the grocery chain Wakefern, helping to manage their marketing programs.

For the past three years, La Kier has served as an adjunct professor at Georgia State University’s Robinson College of Business, teaching a course on data driven marketing to MBA and MS Marketing Students in a program rated #17 in the nation and #8 among public universities.

La Kier holds a Bachelor of Science in Advertising from the University of Texas and an MBA from Georgia State University.

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