Brian Cluster

Director of Consumer Insights/Business Intelligence, Pilot Automotive

Brian Cluster has over 20 years’ experience in consumer-packaged goods and the retail industry. He is the Director of Consumer Insights and Business Intelligence for Pilot Inc.   He and his team are responsible for market research, category management, ecommerce analytics and other business insight activities to fuel the growth of Pilot and our customers. He has proven success in leading key process improvement and analytical projects, which have significantly improved companies’ financial performance.

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. He has a strong track record of collaborating on strategy, building and delivering analytics to drive successful execution of category and marketing plans.

He is currently serving on the Auto Care’s Category Management Committee which works collaboratively in the Automotive Aftermarket to share, best practices, education and implementation plans to improve business operations and customer satisfaction.

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

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


  • Posted on: 09/13/2019

    Did Whole Foods just give conscious capitalism a swift kick to the curb?

    Terrible move and terrible timing, especially in light of the current political discussion on health care within the Democratic party. There are many other ways to "meet the needs of the business" without taking away the benefits of your front line customer-facing employees. This decision is in stark contrast to the stakeholder tenet of conscious capitalism and it isn't in the spirit of "to value and care for EVERYONE that touches your business."
  • Posted on: 09/12/2019

    What keeps online shoppers from creating user accounts?

    Consumers don't see the value of adding one more retail account in their lives. They likely have their bases covered with Walmart/Amazon/Target, CVS/Walgreens and their main grocery retailers. So many of the major retailers have been breached in the past years. Consumers don't want to worry about that happening to them. Retailers will need to show how they provide a better value or experience than the retailers that have already been adopted into the customers' lives. Here is an article highlighting breaches affecting consumers in the past two years.
  • Posted on: 09/11/2019

    WRT #digitaltransformation success

    Brands and retailers are complex organizations with multiple systems and data existing in many silos in the organization. Many times an organization may think that they are modernizing their organization by buying and utilizing a new data visualization software or another cutting edge solution but the foundational data structures are not sound. Many data types may not be accessible for many analyst teams. Therefore they are not fully benefiting from all their talent since they can only use a portion of usable data. With all of the changes in the past few years and new data sources now available, I would suggest that C-level leaders of retailers and brands conduct a thorough review of their data and understand if it is interconnected via a master data management system. Sometimes, data sets are brought in by departments and are not known by others that could benefit the business. Another deep review would be to understand the various analytics being conducted throughout the organization. Bring the cross-functional analytic leaders together to talk about their analytic projects and identify gaps and opportunities. Make that a permanent group and meeting that is used to ensure communication and collaboration are ongoing and strengthen over time.
  • Posted on: 09/10/2019

    Will a loyalty program give Americans more reasons to shop at Target?

    Target has been on a roll lately by remerchandising its stores, introducing a new private brand in the grocery department and improving its e-commerce experience and home delivery program. All of these improvements have been made with the consumer's needs front and center. This seems to be a great time for them to launch the program nationally because it will allow their shoppers some time to accrue some benefits before the key holiday purchases. I agree with Carol, the key for this program is to make it simple as possible to use and integrate within their other programs. Busy moms, dads, Millennials and other shoppers will likely have limited patience to work through a maze of programs.
  • Posted on: 09/06/2019

    Starbucks developing new store dedicated to pickup and delivery orders

    Starbucks in many ways has been leading digital transformation and innovation at retail since the launch of their mobile payment program more than eight years ago. For Starbucks, mobile ordering will likely become more important in the high-traffic and high-density areas but may never really become the predominant service method for all stores. Despite our busy lives, Starbucks has been for years been the third place for many customers. I think that they will continue to focus and improve on that place where you have all of the comforts of home and/or your office. Foodservice operators should continue to learn and monitor what Starbucks is doing as they are among the best at experimenting and innovating and pushing boundaries in retail.
  • Posted on: 09/05/2019

    Will stores help Vitamin Shoppe stand out in crowded supplement subscription market?

    Vitamin Shoppe has an advantage of 750 physical stores and this will help them differentiate in the crowded subscription service space. Based on industry sources, the company skews over 65 but also higher for households with income of over $125,000. Many of these older customers may see the benefit of in-person personal coaching vs. only online communication. The in-person nutritionist coaching may also bring new types of customers that have not been comfortable with an online-only model.
  • Posted on: 09/04/2019

    Simple answers to fix retail’s loyalty marketing mess

    One of the biggest issues with retail loyalty programs is that they have lost their way. They have forgotten their original purpose of building relationships with their most valued customers. These relationships do not always need to be 100 percent price-driven. For most customers, price is an important part of loyalty but the experience can also be important. I've been recently impressed by the 7-Eleven app and program. On 7-Eleven Day, they create a buzz of interest and new loyalty members with the free Slurpee. Such a promotion can be quite hectic in-store but it creates excitement and fun experiences for anyone that visits that day. Relationships between retailers and customers are shallow if they are only price-driven. Grocery retailers can take a page from the playbook of 7-Eleven by offering unique food experiences for their most loyal customers or by being able to test a new baked item or invite the most loyal customers to a holiday-themed event. Bottom line, retailers have to inject more fun and experience into the relationship to generate more loyalty.
  • Posted on: 09/03/2019

    Will Lowe’s score with its ‘homegating’ game plan?

    I think that it is the right move for Lowe's. With 79 million fans and teams in 22 states and in the most populous cities, it has wide appeal. Homegating could be as simple as a grill cover or team chairs and tables or it could expand into something much bigger. Getting the fans in the store for NFL items may lead to other discussions such as ones about remodeling a bathroom or other home improvement projects, so I think that this is a worthwhile opportunity and it makes sense for Lowe's.
  • Posted on: 08/30/2019

    Social media antics cause grief at Walmart, Target, Home Depot, others

    Unfortunately, this is another sad symptom of today's society. Children may receive their first phone when they are seven and first social media account when they are 10 years old. By the time that they are 15, they have hundreds of followers and their online followers are more important to them than other folks in the physical world. The 15-year-old is obviously self-centered and has no empathy about the impact of his actions. Suggestions for retailers may include:
    1. Auditing all lighting, phones, intercoms and other mission-critical tools in the store to make sure that they are secure and not open to any tampering.
    2. Conduct training with employees on how to manage difficult employees and when to call in security or the police based on different scenarios.
  • Posted on: 08/11/2019

    Whole Foods gets serious about partying

    All of us are veterans in the retail industry and have hunches on the success of this move by Wholes. I'm going to take a different approach and think about it from a trip segment, party trips inclusive of birthdays, anniversaries, and other seasonal celebrations. It's not only about the party supply category. What is the size of these trips? I'm thinking that most of these trips are over $300, likely larger than many of whole foods regular trips. Who are they battling on these trips? Costco, Walmart, Target, Kroger. Increasing the party supplies section just another way of securing the "party" trip for Whole Foods and if they can add more premium party trips and prevent any additional trip leakage, then they may be successful. The party category appears to be lucrative as you may have seen that CTC purchased the Party City business in Canada.

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