Petco CMO Tariq Hassan Talks Oxytocin and Lifelong Journeys Driving Transformation Priorities

Headshot of Nadine Dietz

Tariq Hassan, CMO of Petco, is a true “champion” of transformation in every sense of the word. Not only is he championing change within Petco in the name of pet parents everywhere, but he’s also fueling his organization with new thinking and lifting up diverse talent to be part of ongoing solutions. In fact, he was just celebrated at Adweek’s Champions’ event, as part of our inaugural class of those exceptional leaders who rise up and reach back.

His recipe for success inside and out? Empowerment, engagement, incentive, inclusion, and transparency. See more on these below and tune in to hear more from Tariq on how he’s thinking of pet parents, their lifelong journeys and the oxytocin that surrounds his universe to drive meaningful transformation.

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Recipe for Transformation

  • Engagement – “The first thing you do is put your customer at the center and ask [yourselves] what are the need states that they have? Customers are helping us get there and to be able to leverage data for them to have the same kind of human analog access to medical and health information is exactly where we’re going for tomorrow. The same way that you can text your primary care physician and ask a question. Those are the things that will differentiate. Customers want to know that someone’s on the other end looking out for them.”
  • Empowerment – “The role of a CMO extends well beyond what we do from marketing externally to our customers and really understanding what the experience they’ll have in our stores. But that also means understanding what is it that our employees in 1500 stores are understanding, what they see, what they hear, because they’re real time. How do we help them? How do we make sure that they have the information that they require to be able to engage those guests in a very different way? Who else is more important to empower than the folks that are greeting the customers in the stores.”
  • Incentive – “We tend to have an over-fixation on focusing on what’s broken. The proverbial red light, yellow light, green light. Too often when we do those exercises, we’ll focus on the red lights because means that there’s a problem, but that may not be the most meaningful value return for the customer. We’re doing a lot of work right now to help our employees understand what’s important for the customer, how they’re doing on those things, and then rewarding them for their ability to act on the things that add value rather than just focusing on red lights.”
  • Inclusion – “I think the first thing you have to think about is the actual culture of the company, and that culture can’t stop at the front of your store. There has to be a universal understanding of what we’re trying to achieve and it starts with having a vision for the company. It starts with having a very clear understanding of what the strategy is and having people understand what they can say no to and what they can stop focusing on. When to say ‘no, I’m not going to do that’. Understanding those values removes the tension of worrying and improves focus.”
  • Transparency – “You have to remember that many of our employees aren’t just here for a job. They’re here because they have a passionate, true, committed love for the caring of the animals that we sell products for. And so being able to provide the information they need to feel like they are providing value is key. Our leadership team is open about the things we do well, the things where there’s opportunity to drive change, and then letting people know how they’re doing and how we’re doing. And that’s what we’ve been focusing on.” Nadine Dietz is chief community officer at Adweek and host of the CMO Moves podcast.