PROFILE

Brian Cluster

Director of Industry Strategy - CPG & Retail, Stibo Systems

Brian Cluster has over 20 years’ experience in consumer-packaged goods and the retail industry. He is the Director, Industry Strategy – CPG & Retail for Stibo Systems. In this role he supports the overall growth of MDM sales in CPG and Retail channel by understanding customer needs and by being the voice of the customer to product teams and throughout the organization.

Brian has a broad perspective across the consumer-packaged goods industry having worked for retailers, a food broker, a market research company and several manufacturers and now a software company. He has a strong track record of collaborating on strategy, building and delivering analytics to drive successful execution of category and marketing plans and business value.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in Marketing from the University of Iowa, and an MBA in International Marketing & Finance from DePaul University.

To learn more about Pilot and our brands please see below.

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  • Posted on: 06/02/2022

    Should Instacart discard shopper ratings from chronically grumpy customers?

    Face it, we don't live in a 5-star world. Things happen such as product shortages, traffic, accidents, and things break. It would be best for Instacart to be as transparent as possible about these scores and aim for continuous improvement vs.gaming the better scores. I agree with George's point about re-calibration and education to consumer about what constitutes a 5-star vs. a 3-star rating. Additionally, perhaps there is an opportunity to prune old scores that are no longer relevant to the current customer service conditions?
  • Posted on: 05/05/2022

    Are Americans getting ready to hit the brakes on spending?

    Yes, we are in the middle of a phase of spending reconsideration for consumers. Households are considering cutting the extras and things that were commonplace in 2020 and 2021. The ultra-convenient delivery services have started raising prices. Consumers may be thinking, do I really need to order food or a coffee with a $3-5 additional fee several times a week? Streaming services were all the rage in 2020/2021. It's time to rationalize. How many do consumers really need? As consumers' mindset moves to price and value, it is important for retailers to understand what their customers are thinking. This is a time when the value retailers and private brands take share. Retailers messaging may need to reassure them that there are options for them at multiple price points.
  • Posted on: 05/04/2022

    L.L.Bean is taking a month-long mental health break from social media

    Leadership on this topic seems really aligned with what they are about. Not only does it help reinforce the benefits of being outdoors, but it also supports its own employees during the month. I think that they may be able to go further to also speak to the benefits of going outdoors and being adventurous for children. L.L.Bean will successfully create conversations about mental health to make everyone more aware and to look for varied solutions.
  • Posted on: 04/26/2022

    Do Gen Z workers deserve to be called entitled?

    Many Gen Zers work incredibly hard, we can not stereotype. As leaders, we need to move beyond generations, ethnicities, race and other general groupings and be curious about the individual, their interests, and then also have a professional discussion about the business needs. Each generation is different because of what they lived through and their own work experiences. The current and future perspective on work is much different than 10 years ago and as leaders in business, we need to understand those perspectives and find a way to make it work.
  • Posted on: 04/21/2022

    Will customers know everything about products with digital ID?

    Consumers' appetite for data continues to grow. Consider the fitness tracker market which is forecasted to be growing at 19% and may reach $139B in a few years. Fitness-focused consumers are keenly aware of their health and fitness efforts and results over time. Many consumers are just as passionate about the environment and social causes and diversity. More have realized that their choices about clothing, food, and transportation can have an impact on the world. Cause-driven consumers will look for more information and to evaluate product choices and measure their impact over time. Reliable information, trustworthy information, and data will increase in value as consumers dig deeper for information within the supply chain and want transparency in more of their purchases. Companies that mange their data supply chain better and with safeguards will not only be able to satisfy consumer needs but also be more accurate in their ESG reporting.
  • Posted on: 04/19/2022

    Did stores prove their worth during the pandemic?

    Absolutely. Stores have proven their worth to be versatile in a pandemic and in a digital-driven world. Think of all the innovations that happened in the store, BOPIS, ROPIS, and delivery. They also served as a key point in the community when people needed it most. Change continues with many DTC brands now opening physical stores which shows the importance of personal touch and interaction with the customers. That said, with the greater adoption of digital commerce, many stores need to evaluate the purpose of the store and continue to build on what the stores may provide. With live shopping, social commerce, and other innovative digital channels being adopted the online penetration rate will continue to climb.
  • Posted on: 04/14/2022

    Will solar have its day in the sun at Target?

    Solar can be a great way to power grocery stores and various other retailers. In San Diego, we have high schools, performing arts centers, and multiple retail banners with both rooftop installations and carport installations. It can be all done in the right location and if it makes sense financially. After a while it becomes ho-hum. I think that it is important for retailers not only to make these moves but find ways to communicate the benefit in the store to their customers. Something credible that could really hit home would be to have a free cellphone charging unit that is a benefit from the solar power efforts of the retailer.
  • Posted on: 04/13/2022

    Will retailers be ready when the third-party cookies crumble?

    Using third-party data for marketing was lazy marketing and not consumer-concentric because the consumer never consented. Now marketers have an opportunity to reset and build a consent-based connection with consumers so they can communicate in a personalized way. By gathering and managing customer data in a responsible way and being able to transparently share how the data is used, companies not only reduce any privacy regulation challenges but build loyalty. Brands and retailers need to build their own communities and first-party data resources and find partners who can collaborate to help build this out responsibly. My colleague Matt Cawsey, just wrote about this topic recently at the Consumer Goods Forum.
  • Posted on: 04/12/2022

    Target launches new program for used apparel

    With a growth rate for resale that is 11x faster than regular retail and a continued consumer trend toward sustainability and saving money, Target will have success. After several months of evaluation of the ThredUp program of 400,000 items, they will be informed of the next strategic move. Resale at quality retailers can work. Having recently purchased previously used shoes that were of excellent quality from REI, I have witnessed that this can work even for the most skeptical consumers. Shoes, shirts and pants, shorts, and other clothing can have a second life and the retailers with a sustainability focus have an opening right now to launch their own approach to resale.
  • Posted on: 04/07/2022

    Are jingles ready to make a comeback?

    Jingles can make a comeback. With podcasts gaining popularity in the last few years, there are opportunities to use jingles there as well in traditional and streaming radio. As a San Diego resident and hardcore Cubs fan, I can't help but retain the short O'Reilly jingle that is part of every broadcast. Jingles can be effective in the right setting to reach the right audience for sure.
  • Posted on: 04/06/2022

    What are the hurdles to becoming data-driven?

    The starting point for becoming a data-driven organization is to understand where you are today. First, do an audit of how data is used and ask your people the amount of time and effort it takes to make decisions and do analytics. Many times your most talented analytic professionals are spending more than one-third of their time in data collection and prep. You are not enabling data-driven decision-making if your people have to go through hoops to bring data together for each analytics project. Data integration, transparent processes, and data governance are the keys to help enable your teams to be data-driven. Data management tools can provide the foundation for a trustworthy set of business data that can be used operationally, fuel your commerce engine, and also analytics. Enabling individual and team success is key to becoming more data-driven.
  • Posted on: 04/04/2022

    Is curbside pickup-only grocery a viable business model?

    This is a viable option for a niche set of consumers. One of the store locations is in Lincolnwood, Illinois a close suburb of Chicago. I think that this type of service works well in denser urban/suburban neighborhoods where two people work and may need to increasingly be in the office and in a time crunch. We haven't read about it much on the RetailWire but according to C&R research, more than 43% of Americans have had a package stolen in 2020 and having a go-to curbside grocer may solve that problem as well as make it efficient for these types of customers. The key is in the execution and winning the right for repeat purchases.
  • Posted on: 03/31/2022

    Best Buy and others find great customer experiences start with data insights

    A data-driven approach to customer-focused problems is an absolute must. Data about customers, locations, online and in-store behavior as well as the data from new digital channels such as communities and sample programs. The key is for the retailers to be purposeful with this data to ensure that the teams are solving the most important problems and also respecting the privacy/personalization expectations of customers. Additionally, what plans are in place to collect and harmonize this data to make it trustworthy so all team members are using a single source of truth and drive data-driven decision-making? It was an astute observation that there were not a lot of discussions about qualitative data, but understanding how your product is used by consumers can give you a leg up in closing experiential gaps as well as fuel new product development. Best Buy, unlike many other retailers, is frequently in people's homes with the geek squad and also sells oftentimes very complex products so ethnographic studies appear to be well suited to them -- but -- the type of qualitative study really depends on category/retailer.
  • Posted on: 03/22/2022

    Has ‘consumer’ become a bad word?

    No. "Consumer" is an accurate word. We all consume food, clothing, and other material and that is not going to change. Changing the word will not help in sustainability matters and frankly, companies should be more worried about reaching sustainability goals than changing words here and there. The opportunity, of course, is to use data to improve retailers' and brands' efforts in sustainability. Gaining a deeper and measurable understanding of each supplier and location and how that may contribute or detract from sustainability goals. On the consumer side, there are opportunities to use sustainability data to show how different shopping activities contribute to pollution, wasted product. Educating consumers on the impact of one-day delivery vs. two-day delivery, the impact of returns, and highlighting the various sustainability programs available to them may be a better use of energy. If retailers can find a way to collaborate with consumers to achieve a better world together, it can be a win-win. No word change is necessary!
  • Posted on: 03/10/2022

    Eddie Bauer has a lot of stories to tell

    Content creation is important for outdoor brands because many of their outdoor enthusiastic customers have aspirational fitness and experiential goals. Surprisingly, brands such as Red Bull have already demonstrated that exciting and highly experiential content can be a good platform to share the key aspects of the brand and cement loyalty for customers that align with that lifestyle. I think that it is important not only to create exhilarating content about extreme adventures, but also to have educational content for consumers just starting their journey in the outdoor lifestyle. It makes the brand accessible for new customers. Having their own customers tell their stories helps less experienced customers create a vision of what they can do. The products enable these incredible adventures but the customers are the star.

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