CMO Moves

The Heart of Retail

Evolving retail brands takes innovation driven by the right team, the right leadership and a whole lot of heart.  Not just heart for your customers, but heart for your team so you can enable them to bring their best selves to the table and help them succeed.  Whether you are the largest retailer in the world or a young retailer, as the driver of growth, it all comes back to how you lead your teams while continuously evolving to keep your customers engaged and loyal.  Here are some tips from my guests on CMO Moves:


Represent your market

“Our model has shifted because we're looking for more diversity: more diversity of skill sets, more diversity of backgrounds, more ethnic diversity, more diversity of thought; so, we go to a number of different places now to get talent. We do still recruit from business school, but we also go to undergrad, we go to suppliers, we go to agencies, and we go to other retailers. We’ve really found that it takes a true mix to build the right chemistry in the team and a big part of that is because we’re advertising to a very diverse customer base. There's a Walmart within 10 minutes of 90 percent of the US population, so our message has to be very diverse and therefore our team has to be very diverse.” - Listen to Tony Rogers, Chief Member Officer, Sam’s Club, former CMO of Walmart

Be empathetic as a leader

“I think being able to have more diversity in the C-Suite enables for better problem solving, better solutions. I think it can lead to better business results. I think we need more women, more people of color, and more change. I think we need more diversity of backgrounds, more diversity of thought, and I actually think and believe that the most effective leadership styles are evolving. I think the leaders that are going to be successful in the future are going to be the ones that are empathetic, that listen, that are willing to make themselves vulnerable. It's not going to be a command and control environment. I don’t believe those types of leaders are really going to be able to inspire and motivate the millennials and the Gen Z. No.” - Listen to  Rick Gomez, CMO of Target

Create the right environment

“As CMO, I consider my success 90 percent driven by what my people do and about 10 percent driven by what I do. I certainly have control over what I personally do. But more importantly, it's how can I create an environment where people come to work every day and are positioned to do their very best work?  If I'm able to do that and I’m able to attract the right people and they're passionate and motivated, and empowered, success sort of takes care of itself. That was not the case when I was an individual contributor, but that's almost exclusively the case today." - Listen to  Greg Revelle, CMO of Kohl’s

Help where you are most needed

“When I start my day, I think, ‘Where am I needed to make the greatest impact?’ This is not necessarily the place where I want to spend my time, but is actually where my time is most needed. I really have had to learn this [tactic]. I'm someone who can have tendencies toward micromanagement, but I've learned as an executive that it is about empowering people and letting them do their jobs. I have to gut check myself, really be honest with myself: ‘Am I stepping in and doing people's jobs or am I putting my time and my effort where my time and my effort is most needed?’ I think a lot of times we know what we love to do and we have to be honest and say, ‘If we're just spending our time where we're happy to spend our time, that's not necessarily the best use for the business.'" - Listen to Mary Beech, CMO of Kate Spade NY


Walk in your customers’ shoes

“I’ve spent a lot of time in people's homes talking to them. I mean hours and hours. Talking to them about what's important to them. What are they excited about? What are they nervous about? What are some of the issues that their families are dealing with? They've shown me the food in their pantry, the clothes in their closets, walked me through what's in their medicine cabinet, and their beauty bag to help drive empathy, to drive understanding. I think ultimately, that empathy will make us not only better marketers, but a better brand. And I think that's the level of understanding you need to have to be successful, particularly because the guests and the consumers are changing so fast. It isn't a one and done, ‘Oh, I did an immersion. I understand now.’ It's constantly changing.” - Listen to  Rick Gomez, CMO of Target

Be customer-centric, not channel-centric

“I started my career at Sephora leading the eCommerce business and then that evolved into a broader digital role thinking about digital both online on our websites but also in our stores. It's now evolved to this role which is thinking about digital and stores and the client experience across both channels. My role has evolved as our client has evolved, and as we've had to evolve our organization. I think it's easy when you're in a channel-divided organization to push forward priorities of one channel or the other. My mission right now in this role is really just to think with the consumer at the center and take the channel almost out of the equation, which is a totally different way to approach things” - Listen to  Mary Beth Laughton, EVP of Omni Retail, Sephora

Understand global vs local needs

 “The first core question when we started this movement toward globalizing our management was, ‘What should be owned and operated by the countries (decentralized) and what should be owned and operated globally (centralized)?’ The only way you answer that question is to spend some time in the region. The product needs in South Korea are patently different than the product needs of the Netherlands because the average height difference between the Netherlands and South Korea for a male is probably somewhere in the neighborhood of six to 10 inches. So, you can't sell the same backpack and therefore, the product can’t be global. There are all these different nuances. I think you really have to get in the weeds physically and understand
how those regions operate and once you start to identify pain points around the world, then you can figure out what should be centralized.” - Listen to  Charlie Cole, Chief eCommerce Officer for Samsonite and Chief Digital Officer for Tumi

Transform digitally

“I grew up with IKEA and have his emotional bond with the brand. I think it’s one of the coolest brands in the world and I love their mission of helping many, many people have a better life. So, when there was this exciting opportunity to help them with everything digital from a product engineering to business marketing standpoint, I thought it would be a great challenge to work with the brand to [realize the potential] of what they can be while continuing to do a lot of good for many people. The Chief Digital Officer position is a new position in a lot of different industries and it’s defined differently depending on the company and the industry the company operates in. For IKEA, it really is helping the digital transformation to succeed and actually think about not only the product but also the offering to the user as well as the business thinking. I'm the processes of unifying those elements that are important to succeed in the digital age.” - Listen to  Barbara Martin Coppola, Chief Digital Officer, IKEA


Simplify to elevate loyalty

“Kohl's has been known for many years as being very strong in loyalty. That position has got its pros and cons. The pro is that we have this great foundation to work from. The con is that it's really hard to move up from here. So, we've had to be really innovate as we’ve built a new loyalty program. We spent a lot of energy developing a pilot that we launched about a month ago. We wanted to figure how to really simplify what was a somewhat complex value proposition for Kohl's. How do we re-think the entire platform, simplify it, and take the best elements of each individual program to create something that’s really never been done at Kohl's, or in the industry?” - Listen to  Greg Revelle, CMO of Kohl’s

Speak the same [data] language

“One of the things I'm really proud of with our company across the world is we're now all starting to speak the same language in the form of analytics. It doesn't matter whether you're managing a team in Southeast Asia or a team in Latin America; return rate, conversion rate, average order value, are all the same, right? This might sound like the most obvious thing on earth, but if you can get together a list of metrics that are ubiquitous; that are remarkably important around the world, then you can start to identify trends and strategies that are going to build your business.” - Listen to  Charlie Cole, Chief eCommerce Officer for Samsonite and Chief Digital Officer for Tumi 

Focus on making it seamless

“I really think that the next chapter for retailers and a lot brands has to be about creating great experiences and leveraging innovation to do that. It's really about the experiences first and foremost. If you think about the world we're in right now, there are online retailers and other players who do the transaction side of things really well. But I think the retailers who are going to really stand out are those who can win on the experience side and give people a reason to interact with the retailer, whether it's in a store or online.  So, how do you make those experiences then both fit the needs of the consumer first and foremost, but then feel really personalized and really seamless across any touch point that the consumer has with your brand.” - Listen to Mary Beth Laughton, EVP of Omni Retail, Sephora