The Independent Grocers Alliance (IGA) has entered into an agreement to acquire the management consulting service What Brands Want LLC. As part of the acquisition, consultancy owner Michael La Kier will lead IGA’s Red Oval partner relationships as VP, brand development.
“After building What Brands Want LLC for the past 10 years, I’m excited for the next phase of growth as part of the IGA family, bringing new, expanded resources to our existing partners,” said La Kier. “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.”
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The IGA Red Oval program provides 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,” noted John Ross, CEO of Chicago-based IGA. “The program provides analytics, marketing strategy, co-marketing opportunities and more.”
Atlanta-based What Brands Want LLC has helped a diverse set of brands, among them General Mills, Walmart and Johnson & Johnson. Those efforts included strategy, branding, go-to-market plans, and the development of omnichannel marketing plans to engage audiences through 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,” added Ross. “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 previously held a variety of roles in shopper marketing, loyalty, digital marketing and brand management during a 15-plus year career at The Coca-Cola Co., and was also an on-loan executive to Wakefern Food Corp., helping to manage its marketing programs. For the past three years, he’s been 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 top-rated program. He holds a bachelor of science in advertising from the University of Texas and an MBA from Georgia State University.
Consisting of more than 6,200 Hometown Proud Supermarkets, IGA has operations in 46 states and more than 30 countries, commonwealths and territories.
Each week, approximately 230 million customers and members visit Walmart’s more than 10,500 stores and numerous e-commerce websites under 46 banners in 24 countries. Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart U.S. is No. 1 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America, while Keasby, N.J.-based retailer cooperative Wakefern, comprising more than 40 members that independently own and operate 360-plus supermarkets under the ShopRite, Price Rite Marketplace, The Fresh Grocer, Dearborn Market, Gourmet Garage and Fairway Market banners in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island, is No. 25 on PG’s list.