Brant Cruz

Recent Posts

Spring Cleaning Tips for Insights Professionals

Posted by Brant Cruz

Wed, May 27, 2015

spring cleaning, Brant CruzFor those of you living in Siberia, I have a news flash: Boston had a nasty winter. Fortunately, spring has sprung, which has put an extra pep in my step for the past few weeks. That glorious feeling, coupled with an engagement I’ve been working on for Electronic Arts (EA), has inspired this blog. Martha Stewart says that “there are few rites of spring more satisfying than the annual clean.” Well, I’m no Martha Stewart (and for those of you who know me, the comparison is downright comical), but I do appreciate the general sentiment. 

Martha’s extensive list of spring cleaning projects can be found here. But, instead of the proverbial laundry list, I’m going to focus on three of Martha’s tips that have implications in the world of insights, analytics, UXR, and consulting.

1. Organize files. Sure, there is also a tactical “file management” analogy here, but I’m talking about something more powerful and fundamental. I’m advocating that you step back and ask yourself whether you are appropriately allocating your resources to the right initiatives. Take a look back over the last year (or more) at all the work you have completed with a critical eye. Which projects have had true business impact? Which ones could have had impact, but weren’t adopted appropriately by your business partners? What types of work are you consistently conducting that either can’t or won’t have true business impact? Conversely, what could you be working on that would really move your business forward? When facilitated correctly, I bet that most of us would learn that we should shift at least some of our focus elsewhere. 

2. Swap out heavy curtains, throws, and rugs for lightweight ones. Not sure if you’ve noticed, but we live in a “Mobile First” world. A world where consumers have more choices and are harder to pin down and our business partners need fresh insights faster than ever just to keep up. This reality provides both challenges and opportunities when it comes to “old” methods of designing studies and collecting data. There’s still room for “heavy” (strategic/foundational) projects and amazing storytelling deliverables. However, we also need to make plenty of room for methods that provide insights quickly, utilize mobile data collection (with modules “stitched” together scientifically when longer questionnaires are required), and use workshops to get key results to business partners faster rather than waiting for a beautifully packaged final product. Innovative companies (many of whom will be attending the Insights and Strategies Conference in San Diego next week) continue to create exciting new tools. We’re excited to launch EMPACT℠: CMB’s Emotional Impact Analysis methodology next month—our solution to measuring the emotional payoffs consumers experience, want, and expect from a brand, product, or ad.

3. Ensure Fire Safety. Admittedly, this analogy is a bit of a leap, but I find that spending extra time to make sure that my family is in no danger from fire analogous to spending time with my team to ensure that we are all on the same page, working towards the same goals, and that I am providing the support I can to ensure their happiness, balance, and high performance. I was lucky enough to participate in EA’s Global Analytics and Insights Conference offsite last month, and these few days provided a great blueprint for doing this well. In a nutshell, Zack Anderson (EA’s VP of Marketing Science) leads a team of more than 60 Consumer Insights, Analytics, and UXR professionals. The 3-day agenda he developed included a mix of motivational speaking, priority setting, cross-team pollination, and good ole fashioned bonding activities. The theme of the conference was “Ideas. Relationships. Execution.”—and I think it delivered brilliantly on all three counts. 

I suggest you all spend time pondering these three tips and finding the right way to execute them in your professional life. While none of them are as fun as playing a round of golf, I bet they’re all more fun than some of Martha’s other tips, such as resealing grout lines and dusting refrigerator coils.  

Brant Cruz is our resident segmentation guru and the Vice President of CMB’s eCommerce and Digital Media Practice.

Want to learn more about EMPACT℠: CMB’s Emotional Impact Analysis? Watch our recent webinar as CMB's Brant Cruz and Dr. Erica Carranza share how we capture emotional payoffs to inform a range of business challenges, including marketing, customer experience, customer loyalty, and product development. 



Topics: Business Decisions, Consumer Insights, Emotional Measurement, BrandFx

What Does it Take to be an Insights Maverick?

Posted by Brant Cruz

Wed, Apr 09, 2014

Brant surfing 2 (2)Not too long ago, after hosting a gathering of some of the most talented, innovative researchers on the west coast (or really anywhere) I heard a story about another gathering of talented elites—The Mavericks Invitational—the greatest surfing event in the world. Despite the fact that people often request I wear a wetsuit, and I once appeared in local stage production of the Keanu Reeves’ classic Point Break, this was the first time I’d heard of this event. The Cliffs Note version: the event is only held when the waves will be at their most challenging and the 24 invitees are given just 24 hours to make it to Half Moon Bay, CA to have a chance to compete.Basically, a group of the most talented people in their field, heavily invested in a single purpose, makes a beeline to a single place to make the most of a precious moment. The parallels with customer insights are obvious…no? As I see it, we in the customer insights world also have incredible waves of opportunity—for innovation, for serving new segment or entering markets, basically for helping our business partners make critical decisions with confidence. And just like our Mavericks, the best among us need to be nimble and driven enough to bring our partners in analytics, marketing and operations together to capitalize on these precious opportunities as quickly as possible.

Why customer insights in particular? For the same reason they don’t invite belly boarders to the Mavericks. The Customer Insights function (or if you prefer “Analytics Artists”) are in the best position to strangle the data, build coalitions, synthesize results from prior work and multiple data sources and seize the most impactful moments. I mean, who else can confidently talk about robust predictive models with Analytics folks over breakfast, then pivot to a discussion of the results of brand positioning work with in-house ad agency folks over lunch, and finally finish the evening with a nightcap of profitability projections from a conjoint study that will be shared with a CFO?  Insights folks, that’s who!

So I say to you, Customer Insights Professionals, when you hear the call to of a business critical insight that you work has produced, sound the cavalry charge yourselves and bring key members of your organization.  And if you’re feeling at all squeamish, then take inspiration from these famous Mavericks below:mavericks

Brant is CMB's Segmentation guru and VP of CMB's eCommerce and Retail Practice; he awaits his invitation to next year's Mavericks Invitational.

In Miami for Total Customer Experience Leaders? So are we. Stop by our booth and say hello to Julie Kurd @julie1research, and make sure you catch our presentation on the Future of the Mobile Wallet at 2:30 on Thursday.

Topics: Consumer Insights, Growth & Innovation

Brant's Black Friday Predictions

Posted by Brant Cruz

Mon, Nov 19, 2012

mobile shopping I start to fantasize about Thanksgiving Day as soon as I’ve finished the last of the Halloween candy.  From getting up at the crack of dawn, to saying grace, right up until the end of the fourth quarter of the last football game, Thanksgiving is filled with all kinds of wonderful rituals and traditions I look forward to every year.  But things DO change –just as our forefathers never could have dreamt of the magnificent poultry innovation we call Turducken—few would have guessed how Black Friday’s evolved in just the last decade.  Certainly the fact that many retailers will be starting their “Black Fridays” ON Thanksgiving has gotten no shortage of press. But it’s mobile’s impact on the shopping season that will likely decide the financial winners and losers.

This year, instead of grandma telling the kids (okay, me) to get my elbows off the table, she is going to start telling us all to get that “little computer” off the table. Instead of watching my wife and her sisters retire to the kitchen table with an armload of Black Friday circulars, I now expect them to form an Arthurian-style tablet round table, each sharing best-of links, Likes, and Tweets. Don’t get me wrong; in general, progress is good.  It is just going to change my ritual—instead of getting up ridiculously early to execute the extremely detailed list my wife has put together at retail, I’ll be staying up late with her to nail as many online deals as possible.

Welcome to the world of post-pie commerce, where you’ll barely have to shuffle from the dining room table to the sofa to start getting holiday deals—no more sneaking away to get your laptop (how 2008). The good news is, a lot of retailers are getting wise to some of the nuances of mobile technology’s impact on consumer habits. A recent survey from eBay found two thirds of holiday shoppers wanted the sales to begin after dinner, and that dinner usually ends a bit before 5:30. So eBay’s mobile app will be releasing out mobile only deals right after dinner on the east and west coasts. Smart.

So we know what 2012 will bring, but I’m willing to put my neck on the line (subtle turkey humor) to make a few more predictions for Thanksgiving 2013:

  1. Checking in at Black Friday (Small Business Saturday, et al) with location-based deals/ coupons sent real time to mobile devices

  2. Black Friday Gamified with manufacturers offering big sweepstakes prizes for those who buy their products at multiple retailers (e.g., win a chance at $10 million if you buy a Pepsi product from WalMart, Target and Lowes all between the hours of 4:00 AM and 8:00 AM)

  3. Big data used agilely by retailers to adjust inventory and react to competition by surfing all of the Black Friday chatter sights to see what people are most excited about.

  4. Someone trying to brand Sunday.  Maybe “ROBO (Research Online, Buy Offline) Sunday” so the shopping could be done efficiently while out attending church and visiting relatives.   

  5. While parents retire to football watching and tablet tripping, the new kids ritual will be starting their holiday wish list via Amazon’s Santa App (or one like it) that will eventually be cleverly linked to parents’ accounts real time. 

And one more for good luck: some clever retailer(s) will seize the opportunity to brand the day before as "eWallet Wednesday" thereby taking advantage of early dismissals from schools and some jobs. The necessary investment in POS technology will pave the way for eWallets to surpass plastic as the tender of choice for Millennials by 2014.

In closing, despite the addition of more microprocessors and silicon chips, for me Thanksgiving will happily continue to be a day filled with thankful reflection, tryptophan-induced sleepiness, and a bottle of antacid  How will your Thanksgiving be changing, or not?

Brant Cruz is our resident segmentation guru and the Vice President of CMB’s eCommerce and Retail Practice.

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at CMB!

CMB turkey



Topics: Mobile, Retail

CMB Voices: The 5 C's of Great Segmentation Socializers

Posted by Brant Cruz

Wed, Aug 08, 2012

Don't let your segmentation study languish on the shelf. CMB's Brant Cruz, shares the five C's of great segmentation socializers. Learn how to get your segmentation embraced and used by your organization:

Brant Cruz is our resident segmentation guru and the Vice President of CMB’s eCommerce and Retail Practice. Read more of Brant’s thoughts on segmentation here.

Topics: Chadwick Martin Bailey, Market Strategy & Segmentation, CMB People & Culture

Why Boozers Become Juicers on Planes: Adventures in Segmentation

Posted by Brant Cruz

Wed, Jun 20, 2012

All seasoned business travelers have their share of funny or painful airline stories, and I’m no exception.  But a particularly memorable incident on a recent flight to SFO got me thinking, and it’s the genesis for this blog.

Long story short, I was sitting by the window and celebrating the open middle seat next to me when a 6’8” 350 lb. man shuffled down the aisle and plopped into it.  Our conversation went exactly like this:

Giant:  “I know, I know, I’m a giant. Sorry.”
Brant:  “I have to admit, I was chanting ‘not him, not him’ from the moment you walked on.  Sorry.”

From there the conversation (between my snores) was amiable.  And then, somewhere over the Great Plains, my new friend spilled cranberry juice all over his seat-back table, and himself.  Have you ever seen a man that size try to clean himself in an area that small?  Not pretty.

My mind ran with this incident, and I immediately started thinking about the seemingly ridiculous (to me anyway) amount of cranberry and tomato juice that is consumed on airplanes.  The data below is completely fictitious, but I bet it is directionally accurate.


Needs-state segmentation CMB

Now, what does this have to do with market research?  Not much… but I’ll reach.

To me, the chart above segues nicely into a discussion of the differences between Market Segmentation, and Needs-State (AKA “Occasion-Based”) Segmentation. 

Market Segmentation groups people or businesses into mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive (MECE) groups.  It is limited by the realities that people and businesses are complex, don’t always think or behave the same way all the time, and because of this any segmentation scheme is forced to be an over-simplification of reality.  However, despite these limitations, great market segmentation can provide businesses with a common lexicon to use to describe the audiences it serves, prioritization of who to invest in, and the foundation for understanding what to say and where to say it in marketing at a brand level.  Market Segmentation is great for setting strategy.  If I’m a cranberry juice company, I’m going to go after segments that drink a lot of juice (kids, active women in their 40s, health/energy motivated people, etc.)   But it is far less useful in some important areas … namely in identifying the best places to reach our core segments, what improvements to make, and how to grow our business beyond the core.  This is where Needs-State Segmentation comes into play.

Needs-State Segmentation groups together occasions (e.g., shopping trip types, travel trip types, usage occasions and information gathering moments) based on common needs, rather than grouping people or businesses.  While the Needs-States are mutually exclusive, each person/business can experience multiple needs states as they interact with the category.  Needs-State Segmentation has two major orientations:  purchase decision occasions, and usage occasions.  A segmentation focused on purchase decision occasions will break down all of the critical moments in the purchase funnel where the process of buying is impacted (from seeing a commercial on T.V. to chatting with a friend / WOM).  This type of segmentation will dramatically improve a company’s ROI on their integrated marketing plans by highlighting the most important occasions to hit and what to communicate in them.  In contrast, a segmentation focused on usage occasions will lay out all of the moments when actual product usage occurs and what distinct needs must be fulfilled in each.  This is the bread and butter of innovation for both short-term improvements within an existing line of products and for longer-term high growth innovation where a new niche in the market is identified (like when Red Bull figured out that it could target the mid-night clubbing need state rather than the afternoon-pick-me-up occasion).

Market Segmentation and Needs-State Segmentation complement each other.  I can only assume that cross-country flights are a unique need state, where multiple segments swerve from their typical behaviors and begin pining for bright red liquids.  The question here is do the bright red liquid companies know this?  And if they do, do they understand the need state deeply enough to take full advantage of it?

Posted by Brant Cruz and Lori Wahl, Brant is resident segmentation guru and the Vice President of CMB’s eCommerce and Retail Practice. Read more of Brant’s thoughts on segmentation here.

Lori is a former CPG marketer turned researcher, who now runs her own strategic qualitative research consultancy, BIGinsightz.  Lori is an expert in strategic market research, having built three best-in-class insight processes for her former company that drive product, branding and selling strategies.  You can reach her at

Topics: Travel & Hospitality Research, Market Strategy & Segmentation