Target CMO Rick Gomez on Breaking Through Boundaries With Empathy And Confidence
Rick Gomez, CMO of Target, is the ideal role model for empathetic leadership, inclusivity, confidence and breaking through all the boundaries which provides an “unmistakably Target” experience for his guests. Not only is Rick changing the game in Retail, but his personal story of success demonstrates his resilience and determination to break through glass ceilings and represent multiple communities in his leadership role, as a gay Latino. As his proud, and very involved, Latino father said, “WE got the job. You better not screw it up”.
This incredible episode will keep your head spinning, like SoulCycle, as Rick and I talk about literally every imaginable topic in just 32 minutes. Rick takes us on a journey from when he was accepted at law school to how he earned the role of CMO at Target and continues to deliver growth for Target in a turbulent retail environment. Funny thing, he never went to law school as he needed to get a job to pay for it all and that serendipitously turned out to be a pivotal moment in his career. As he sat in focus groups with 6-8 year olds, as Brand Manager for Quaker Oats Cap’n Crunch, trying to figure out what the next color of Crunch Berry would be, he realized “there is no way that being a lawyer could ever be this much fun”.
As CMO of Target, Rick continuously challenges himself and his team to uphold and deliver on the purpose of Target “helping families discover the joy in everyday life”. With 80% of Americans shopping at Target, Rick believes that as a marketer and a leader “you have to be empathetic. You have to be able to listen to your guest or your consumer, understand their needs, and then be able to develop solutions for them.” And by “listen”, that means more than just with your ears, it means living, breathing, walking in their shoes to be able to provide the best experience possible.
Rick, personally, has spent countless hours immersed with his guests in their homes and on shopping trips as they share with him how they shop, how they dress, how they cook, their challenges and their needs. His team is constantly translating insights from focus groups or data into real solutions, like surprise gifts for new moms or instant delivery to your car door, leveraging the power of creativity fueled by data science, data automation, AI and cross-functional collaboration.
What does Rick love about being a CMO? “We are able to have impact certainly on the business, driving market share gains, driving top line growth, but we are also able to have impact on cultural issues.” Providing an inclusive shopping environment is critical for Target, but Rick is also exceptionally in tune with things like body image challenges and quickly transformed Target into #1 in women’s swimwear by showcasing sizes from 4 to 24 and creating the #NOFOMO campaign to help women get out and rock their bathing suits no matter what size they are.
Where does Rick get all his confidence? A mentor once told him “Believe in yourself”. And per Rick, “It takes a while to be able to say I deserve a seat at the table and it takes even more to be able to say, as long as I'm at the table I might as well be at the head of the table”.
I can’t do justice to all the things that Rick shares in this podcast, so you’re just going to have to listen in for yourself and hear Rick talk about all the efforts he’s making at Target, his inspiration, his community, and the future of retail.