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Brant Cruz

Recent Posts

AI, AI, AI! What next?

Posted by Brant Cruz

Wed, May 31, 2017

robots.jpgPeople who know me are well aware I occasionally like to spin a tall tale. The routine is standard: I start with a barely believable premise, and if I see someone taking the bait, I keep adding ridiculous layers until my mark finally figures it out.

The other day started in similar fashion. Chris Neal (a colleague of mine) and I were asked by another colleague if our Silicon Valley clients were chanting this article’s mantra, “Mobile First to AI First.”  The real answer isn’t a simple “yes” or “no” (more on that in a bit). But in addition to answering the question, I decided to spin one of my famous yarns. I won’t bore you with the details, but the yarn evolved into me admitting that I was about to strike rich from investing in an MIT start-up that created AI-based robot leggings. Further, I’d sport those leggings while running the 2018 Boston Marathon as a publicity stunt.

I’m 5’9” (on a tall day) and 275 lbs. (after 24 hours of fasting). 

My only hesitation (according to the story) was that my wife was concerned my heart wouldn’t make it beyond the first mile and was greedily reviewing the details of my life insurance policy. 

Note: When my colleague reads this blog post, it will be the first time he or she realizes I was only pulling his/her leg. 

For the last few days, I’ve been basking in the satisfaction that only those with my genetic mutation feel. But that reflection has made me think–is my tale really that tall? The truth is, while neither Chris nor I hear “AI First” as universally and consistently cited as “Mobile First” was five years ago, AI is permeating strategy discussions at all major tech companies as they become more focused on the business opportunity it represents.

And, a lot of them are struggling to answer key questions. Where does AI “live” organizationally? Does it deserve its own category of products/apps, or should it remain a concept that permeates nearly every project across departments? Other challenges include foundational questions like who has subject matter expertise to advise on insights in this category adequately, and how can we market something this new (and to some, scary) effectively to the right audiences in a way that is compelling and easy to understand?

In my own experience, I can say that many consumers are ready for the realization of AI. Based on our recent work with Anki for their amazing robot Cozmo, consumers in millions of US HHs are excited to use AI in everything from fun to productivity. And, related to my colleague’s enthusiasm for my fictitious running suit, consumers in 8.8 million US households strongly agree with the statement “Tech toys/gadgets/robots make me feel closer to the future I’ve envisioned”.Cozmo Lifestyle 002-1.jpg

We’re also wrapping up a self-funded research study examining the barriers to and opportunities for getting coveted groups like Millennial and Gen Z to use Intelligent Personal Assistants (IPA—think Siri). Needless to say, AI is no longer a peripheral concept—it’s very much on the minds of consumers and brands alike. If you aren’t already, subscribe to our blog so you don’t miss a series of AI-inspired blog articles once we release our study’s findings.

In this context, I guess my MIT “get rich” story really wasn’t too far from believability. It’s possible that engineers at Nike or Under Armour are measuring up some other husky market researcher for a set of robotic leggings for some incredible athletic feat. Regardless, I’m excited about the possibilities–though my tastes tend more towards self-driving lawn mowers. 

Brant is CMB’s ecommerce and Digital Media Practice Leader, and will be co-presenting the aforementioned work with Anki at the Insights Association Northwest Educational Summit in San Francisco on June 8. In his near-future spare time he can be found hiding under his desk, avoiding his previously unsuspecting colleague. 

Are you registered for the Northwest Educational Summit on June 8 in San Francisco? If so, click here to receive our latest webinar and connect with one of our lead researchers.

Not going but still interested in learning about how Anki leverages emotions and identity to adapt, innovate, grow, and stay consumer-centric? Click here!

Topics: growth and innovation, Artificial Intelligence

Marketers: Let’s See Some Identification

Posted by Brant Cruz

Fri, Jun 17, 2016

social_currency.pngVery little brings me more joy than a rich data set that smells like a powerful insight is ready to emerge. Likewise, few things create more angst for me than a powerful story hidden in data—when something is there but I just can’t connect the dots. Recently, I was rescued from any long period of angst I might have suffered by a collaboration with two great minds who bring complimentary skill sets to the table.

My two saviors were CMB’s own Erica Carranza (PhD in social psychology) and Vivaldi Partners’ CEO Erich Joachimsthaler (PhD and marketing thought leader). The “aha!” moment came from Erich and Erica’s ability to reframe what the data was trying to tell me—a multifaceted “identity construct” drives all our underlying digital social behaviors. It’s an idea with powerful implications for marketers and other business leaders trying to thrive in this world of digitally empowered consumers. Erich, Erica, and I will be sharing more on these insights and how to use them in our June 22nd webinar, Social Currency: The New Brand-Building Model. 

To help illustrate, I’ve spent the last week retrofitting this new realization to some of the best-of marketing efforts I’ve witnessed in my career, and I found some easy examples in gaming. Two examples in particular stick out. The first is the famous Call of Duty campaign that used the tagline “There’s a soldier in all of us.” The second is this past winter’s Star Wars Battlefront campaign, which leveraged the Star Wars fandom as part of a 30-year story (told in 30 secs). In both of these ads, the consumers—and their identities (real or aspirational)—were the heroes. The games themselves were enablers to further define and broadcast these identities. In a world where the most powerful brand-building content is created and/or shared by consumers, it’s particularly important to understand why consumers undertake the behaviors that Erich described in his original Social Currency work. 

Retrospectively, it’s been easy to see that game marketers have inherently known (or stumbled upon) the concept of identity being a key to great marketing. But, the real eye-opener here is that this same concept proved true for 5 disparate industries (auto, beer, fashion, restaurants, and airlines) in a rich data set of 18,000 respondents and 90 brands, which is the basis for our webinar next Wednesday.

 Register here!

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

Topics: consumer insights, marketing strategy, webinar, brand health and positioning, customer experience and loyalty, customer journey, Social Currency

Writing the Legacy of the Insights Industry

Posted by Brant Cruz

Wed, Jun 08, 2016

lightbulb.pngLast week my family and I vacationed in Virginia—a trip that combined the theme park and pool activities my kids begged for, with a big dose of the US history my wife and I wanted them to have. Our first stop was Monticello, long-time home of Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson’s legacy is accomplished and complicated—he was Secretary of State, Vice President, and our 3rd President, but he was also a historian, philosopher, inventor, and slave holder. An avid reader and collector of books, he sold his massive library to the Library of Congress after its collection was destroyed by the British during the War of 1812. What resonated most for me, however, is how concisely Jefferson chose to have his life summarized on his gravestone. He left these instructions:

"...on the faces of the Obelisk the following inscription, & not a word more: 

Here was buried
Thomas Jefferson
Author of the Declaration of American Independence
of the Statute of Virginia for religious freedom
& Father of the University of Virginia”

A lifetime of major accomplishments (which might even include the invention of the pedometer. . . you’re welcome Fitbit!), and he lists only the three most important to him?

It got me thinking about the legacy that I want the “information industry” to leave the world—because I know that no single one of us can leave a legacy like this alone. Here’s my shot at one (Jefferson style):

Here is buried
The first true generation of Insights Integrators
Data scientists and artists both
who aggregated and codified the massive mysteries of the what’s and the why’s
and paved the path to true customer centricity 

This is bit more verbose than Jefferson (which shouldn’t surprise anyone who knows me). But you probably get the point. Beyond his headstone, Jefferson also inspired me with several quotes, which I am convinced were prophetic advice for our profession today:

  • On allocating budget to future focused and/or innovation research: “I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.”
  • On the dangers of non-response bias: “We in America do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate.”
  • On report writing: “The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.”
  • On making data-driven recommendations: “In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock.”

I hope you’ve enjoyed this little history lesson, and I look forward to seeing your suggestions for our headstone.

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

Join Brant and Vivaldi Partners Group’s Erich Joachimsthaler for a webinar on 6/22 at 12:30PM EST as they share the results of a 90 brand study. Learn how Social Currency measurement helps brands activate the 7 levers that encourage consumers to advocate, engage, and gain real value.

Register here!

Topics: consumer insights

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, EMPACT, emotional measurement

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 and 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 research

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, our people, market strategy and segmentation

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 BIGinsightz@gmail.com

Topics: travel and hospitality research, market strategy and segmentation

The Striking Similarities Between Tim Tebow and Strategic Segmentation

Posted by Brant Cruz

Fri, Oct 28, 2011

Tim TI’m always looking for some angle that allows me to marry my love of sports with some at least tangentially-related topic from marketing research.  This one I think is actually pretty good.   Tebow is a media lodestone right now, and segmentation… well, that’s about my favorite topic (outside of sports and food).

Without further ado…

There is no shortage of skeptics when it comes to either segmentation, or Tebow.  Segmentation studies (not mine) are notorious for providing “interesting” but ultimately useless information.   Similarly, Tebow has been dissected and criticized by a myriad of experts, including draft gurus Mel Kiper Junior and Todd McShay.

Neither segmentation nor Tebow are about perfection, but about increasing your odds of winning.   Given each individual is unique, the only “perfect” segmentation scheme would have one segment per member of the population.  So given perfection is impossible, segmentation becomes an exercise in finding a scheme that dramatically increases your chances of “winning” with individuals through differentiated treatment of the groups (e.g.,  better products and/or marketing messaging and/or targeting).  Similarly, Tebow is far from anyone’s epitome of NFL QB perfection.  He’s too short, too stocky, and has lousy mechanics.  But he’s a proven winner at the NCAA level, and Denver is 6-21 in Kyle Orton’s last 27 starts.



Both Segmentation and Tebow are about leadership and both can change cultures.  Strategic segmentation (when done well) can change organizational cultures by defining which segment(s) a business will “live for.”  Better understanding your most important segments of customers and prospects helps define what their North Star is, and can result in dramatic changes to everything from product offerings to how your company is organized.  It provides a foundational roadmap for where a business needs to go and why.  Similarly, Tebow’s greatest strength is his leadership.  His quiet and humble confidence is infectious, as witnessed by how universally (with the notable exception of Brandon Lloyd) both sides of the ball rallied around him before and during last Sunday’s game.  In the matter of a week, the Broncos went from a team mired in failure to one with a lot of hope.  (Yes, I know, we can thank the Dolphins for that too… but cut me some slack here).

Segmentation and Tebow will both take time and dedication to succeed.  Segmentation is foundational, and therefore should not be rushed.  It takes time to create the instrument that will allow you to uncover and profile the most actionable segments, and time and effort analyze and evaluate the data too.  Similarly, Tebow is a work in progress.  For 50+ minutes on Sunday, Tebow looked like he had no business playing QB in the NFL.  He was woefully inaccurate, and he was uncomfortable reading the defense.  It’s possible that his mechanics will never improve, but Tebow will never stop trying to get better.

Segmentation and Tebow are both partially defined by faith and abstinence.   Unlike some market research studies where the results can be very clear and prescriptive (e.g., the most profitable product configuration and price from a conjoint-based study, or choosing the right product positioning from a monadic concept test), segmentation is usually the beginning of a journey rather than the end.  Action either requires more research on the most important segments, or some leap of faith to decide to (for instance) create new messaging based on their motivational profile.  It also requires abstinence in that segmentation is almost always about who you don’t (proactively) focus on as who you do focus on.  No company can be all things to all people (or businesses), and the decision to walk away from some audiences is hard.  Like Tim (who credits his faith for the strength to resist temptations that have kept others in his position from reaching their potential)—it’s important to focus on your goal, and avoid distractions that might sidetrack you along the way.

In a nutshell, both strategic segmentation and Tim Tebow are potential sea-changing initiatives that can have major impacts on the organizations that undertake them.  Risk free?  Absolutely not.  But with the right time, effort and coaching they can both pay off big time. 

Posted by Brant Cruz. Brant is CMB’s self-proclaimed Segmentation Prophet.  And, he’ll be rooting hard for Tebow to succeed (except when he plays either of Brant’s fantasy football teams or his beloved Chicago Bears).




Topics: market strategy and segmentation, digital media and entertainment research

Drinking From the Fire Hose: Get it While it's Hot

Posted by Brant Cruz

Tue, Aug 30, 2011

DFTF resized 600Nearly a year ago, my friend and long-time client Chris Frank (formerly of Microsoft, now Vice President, Global Marketplace Insights at American Express) told me he’d been approached to write a book.  Several good-natured digs and a decent steak later, I learned that Chris was serious. By the end of the meal I had been sworn to secrecy. Over the course of the last 10 months I’ve gotten a sneak peek at the title (Drinking from the Fire Hose) and its contents (based on a proof copy Chris sent me last month).  Now the book, a clarion call for smart effective data use—not just more data, is officially available for sale. The time is right for me to tell the world about it.

I promise later this week I will write something with a lot more personality. But I want to take a serious tack today for two reasons:
  • I wanted to see if I could do it.

  • I consider Drinking From the Fire Hose a “must read” for anyone who either uses data to make decisions, or who provides data, insight, and recommendations for decision makers to use in their decision making. 

“Fire Hose” asks researchers and decision makers to step back and siphon the jet stream of data most of us have at our fingertips, and to be parsimonious about which insights we bring to the decision makers we support to help them act confidently.  One of my favorite sections was the description of the Customer Impact Assessment (CIA).  I’ve seen versions of this standard used at most great companies with outstanding market research/consumer insights teams.  Jeff Resnick (formerly of eBay, now at Zynga) always asks the question “Okay, so who wins here and how do we make sure they know it?  Who loses here, and how do we help them win somewhere else.” It’s a great reminder of questions we should always be asking ourselves as researchers whenever we frame up recommendations. 

I’ve read some of Fire Hoses' predecessors in this “making sense of a data-driven world” genre. "Fire Hose" goes beyond the field, providing an important contrast to books like Ian Ayers' “Super Crunchers” and Stephen Baker’s “The Numerati,” books whose fascination with the amount of data obscure the importance of analysis in real world application.  While these books do fabulous jobs of describing the possible, Frank and Magnone do an equally great job prescribing what is practical.  If Ayers’ and Baker’s approach is the excitable young resident eager to make the most exotic diagnoses; Fire Hoses’ is your trusted primary care doctor who gets your diagnosis right because he understands the science of what ails you, and because he’s treated the ailment before.

Note:  I am very tempted to insert a whole slew of equally bad analogies here, but will wait until my next post.

But, who is this book for?  My guess is that most of the concepts in "Fire Hose" will feel familiar to all of us.  But that few or none of us practice all of the concepts as thoroughly and habitually as we should.  For me personally, I learned a number of new tricks.  But at least equally important, I was reminded of some key “rules” that are very familiar, but that I don’t follow as religiously as I should.  The book has left me energized and re-committed to nailing some of the fundamentals that can separate very good research from great research.  I hope you all feel the same when you read it.

Now, for those of you who prefer a more whimsical Brant, I provide the following “sneak peak” of my next Drinking from the Fire Hose blog post…

“I didn’t realize he had such kind eyes.”  That was my wife’s initial reaction when I plopped this month’s issue of the Market Research Association’s “Alert” magazine in front of my wife.  And you know what, I think she’s right.  I never expected to see a nearly life-sized photo of Chris Frank’s mug quite so close up.  But truth be told, I must admit he’s pretty photogenic.

Posted by Brant Cruz. Brant is a VP and resident segmentation guru at CMB.

Topics: big data, business decisions, consumer insights