Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...
For tens of millions of Americans, Target is their “happy place.” Whether they’re rushing in to grab something for a child’s science project—that’s due tomorrow—or losing themselves as they wander the aisles with a cup of Starbucks in hand, Target makes it easy for its “guests” to find a much-needed dose of joy.
That joy has come through the “Tar-zhay” magic the retailer brings to categories like home, apparel and accessories, toys and electronics, and beauty and essentials. And increasingly, it’s coming from food and beverage (F&B)—a business Target has elevated with big investments in its supply chain, mobile app, same-day services, and in recruiting team members with grocery industry expertise.
Those investments not only have helped pave the way for Target to become the third-leading grocer in the US, but also have allowed F&B to play a unique role as a trip driver in support of Target’s overall business. As executive vice president and chief food and beverage officer, Rick Gomez stands at the forefront of those efforts.
“Food and beverage plays a unique role in that it routinely serves our most loyal guests, the ones who love Target and shop Target all the time,” Gomez says. “They are our biggest purchasers of F&B. We know that we can play a big role in keeping their loyalty, driving traffic to our stores, and exposing them to the other things we offer across our portfolio.”
Rick Gomez on Target’s “Owned Brands”
“While some companies consider their products private labels, we like to think of them as ‘Owned Brands’ because brands have relationships with consumers. They come with both emotional and functional attributes.”
Gomez and his colleagues have been focused on that mission through only-at-Target brands like Good & Gather and Favorite Day. Favorite Day was developed during the pandemic and is delivering double-digit growth. The brand offers guests sweet and savory finds all at an incredible value, helping them indulge in moments of joy, affordably. “What we strive to do is bring that Target magic that you see all over the store to our grocery aisles. We are on a mission to transform from a retailer that sells food to one that celebrates food,” Gomez highlights.
“We’re always looking to find ways to offer affordable joy, ways to celebrate without going over budget,” he adds. “At Target, we’re thinking of how we offer that to our guests, so they can still celebrate special moments without breaking the bank.”
Target’s industry-leading services make shopping faster, easier, and more convenient than ever. Target has built a suite of services to meet every guest need, from Order Pickup (where more than one thousand Target stores offer fresh and frozen grocery pickup) to Drive Up (where guests can now add a Starbucks drink to their order). Plus, there is no minimum order required, so if a guest just wants a $4 salad kit, there’s no need to add $31 worth of other products just to avoid a service fee.
Gomez didn’t always plan on pursuing a career in F&B. For a long time, he planned on taking his talents to the legal profession and to attend law school. But while he was studying, he took a job at Quaker Oats in brand management to help pay for his tuition. He fell in love.
Target’s Guest-Centric Approach
“For Target to deliver brands to our guests, we need to first understand them, including what they’re looking for and what’s important to them. We heard clearly from our guests that they want affordable, high-quality products that they can feel good about feeding their families. That need resulted in the launch of Good & Gather, our flagship F&B brand, back in 2019.”
“I loved the idea of solving problems for people,” Gomez says. “I loved the idea of marketing being a combination of creativity and analytics, and it gave me a chance to work with diverse and creative people. So, I said no to law school and never looked back.”
He went on to work in marketing for several years and served in leadership roles at PepsiCo and MillerCoors before coming to Target in 2013 as senior vice president and chief marketing, digital, and strategy officer. By 2021, he had become chief food and beverage officer with a keen understanding of how to build out successful brands and teams.
“One of the most important things is to have a common goal that we’re all working toward, and for us it’s to become a retailer that celebrates food,” he explains. “We also need to have our priorities aligned and to have a team full of people with diverse experiences.”
Gomez prides himself on being an authentic leader who believes in the power of transparency and honesty with his team. He also believes his role is to “clarify the problems that we’re solving.”
“I believe that a leader doesn’t necessarily come up with the solution but empowers their team to do so,” Gomez says. “We need to clearly articulate what we’re trying to solve. We live in a complicated world. We need to understand all the complexities but then distill them down to what matters most. It’s important to have clarity on a problem and to communicate consistently throughout that process.”