Southeast Michigan’s local MetroMode media outlet reported on Bingo Pet Salon an upscale pet business opening in Royal Oak, one of the hippest inner ring Detroit suburbs. Bingo Pet Salon offers a contemporary look and feel and in addition to dog and cat grooming services, offers pet sitting and locally made specialty pet products, including personalized collars. Located near the heart of the walkable downtown Royal Oak shopping district, the salon offers pet owners the opportunity to drop off their pets for grooming, take their time shopping and dining and then pick up their pet on the way home. The business offers a free photo share for pet-sitting clients who become fans of the salon on Facebook.
This savvy business is taking advantage of a great location to position the typical time required to groom a pet as a benefit to their busy owners. Their pet sitting services include free email or text updates to out-of-town owners, with an upgrade available to include photo messaging about the pet. The merchandise offered aligns with the trend to “buy local” and offers unique items which are in keeping with the boutique nature of human clothing and accessories sold in the Royal Oak shopping area. The hours of operation are targeted to working pet owners, open every day except Monday until at least 6 PM and until 7PM on Friday and Saturday.
It looks like good news for pet retailers this holiday season. An annual AP-Petside poll conducted by GfK found that pet owners are planning on spending more on their pets’ Christmas gifts in 2011 than in 2010. About half (51%) of pet owners plan to buy their pets a Christmas gift, a percentage which has held steady for the past 3 years. The average expenditure planned is $46, up from $41 last year, with as you might expect, more affluent households planning to spend more.
Toys are the most popular Christmas present for dogs, followed by food or treats. Bedding, clothes and grooming supplies round out the top five gift categories for dogs, although one might wonder if those last two are gifts dogs would choose for themselves!
Home Furnishings Business reports on the launch of Arf Van home furnishings for dogs from Art Van Furniture. This is the first human furniture player I’ve seen enter this area; the products range from modestly priced dog beds which are similar to those sold in pet stores to hard goods which resemble traditional furniture. Prices seem in line with Art Van’s moderately priced home furnishings for people.
With dogs considered an integral member of many families, there is definitely a market for dog furnishings designed to blend in with the overall home decor. Art Van’s entry into this market is reminds me of Bed Head’s introduction of the Pet Head line of hair and skin care products for pets. The furniture is currently on display in select Art Van stores, but must be ordered either in-store or online. Arf Van items can be shipped to any Art Van retail store at no charge.
This past Sunday I attended the Paws in the Park event at Canton Heritage Park in Canton Michigan. This was the second of a two-day event celebrating pets sponsored by Paws in the Park USA and the Humane Society of Huron Valley along with other local businesses. There were exhibitions and spectator participation events scheduled throughout the day and vendors selling both items of general interest like windows and chiropractic services and pet supplies and services. I made a tour through the booths and met a number of entrepreneurial Michiganders, including friends Julie King of Gertie Gear pet beds and Arlene Dalida, who owns an Aussie Pet Mobile grooming franchise. The new products I found particularly interesting were the Beer Bones made from home-brewed beer waste products and the ChooBee dog toy, designed by a former automotive engineer, whose knowledge of materials, design and manufacturing combined to make what looks like a pretty darn good dog toy. My girls are testing it now!
I’ll admit being a sucker for marketing featuring photos of Bull Terriers! I found Fetching Tags through their social media outreach on Twitter. The company sells premium custom dog tags, made of brushed aluminum. While lacking a bit in the amount of information they contain compared to other, more practical tags like those from Boomerang Pet Tags , Fetching tags offers tags of a whimsical, decorative nature that can be personalized with a pet’s name and owner’s phone number. A premium product that allows dog owners to show their pet’s personality while also providing a practical reason to justify the purchase.
Marx Promotion Intelligence reported that overall Free Standing Insert (FSI) activity rose by 8% in 2009 to more than 272 billion coupons dropped. Pet retailers and pet products were important contributors to this increase.
PetSmart rose from 4th in 2008 to 2nd in 2009 in terms of overall FSI pages; Target continues as the #1 retailer on this measure.
Pet food and treats were in a three-way tie for sixth for the number of new products introduced via FSI in 2009 with 11, pet products rounded out the top ten with 8 new product introductions.
Pet food and treats edged out household cleaning products to claim the #2 spot in number of coupons dropped in 2009; this was a 4% increase over 2008 levels.
The decline in the number of newspapers provides a challenge to the most traditional means of FSI distribution. Retailers and manufacturers are evolving to use targeted direct marketing to keep delivering coupons to their customers.
The Snif Tag collar based RFID tracking system for pets was dropped as company founders re-purpose the technology into a product that tracks hand washing by health care workers. The product, which originated in the MIT Media Lab’s Physical Language Workshop, launched in late 2005 and was profiled in high profile media including Wired and the New York Times.
Described as “social networking for dogs,” SNIF was a product in search of a market. The collar-leash combo provided information about a pet’s activity level while the owner was not present and its interaction with other dogs wearing the same tracking device. I would suspect that anyone willing to shell out almost $200 for the electronically enabled collar and lead set might not let their pet far out of their sight, rendering this second piece of data redundant. If the pet would get out of sight of the owner, there was no way for the owner to find a lost animal using the SNIF tag; a function that is available through some GPS enabled collars.
The SNIF website is still up with links to its news coverage, but the product ordering and retailer locator functions are no longer providing data on the discontinued product. The inventors mention they may re-introduce the product later with a more robust marketing budget, but I will be surprised if it fulfills the initial hopes for its success.
Pet Style News reports on pet clothing and encourages pet retailers to prepare for Halloween by stocking pet costumes. Some pet owners like to dress their pets all year around while others will purchase pet clothing only for Halloween. Shop owners interviewed for the article note that dressing pets is increasing in popularity and that the clothes available have improved dramatically in both quality and fit over the years. This trend is one that sometimes hits a nerve among people supporting animal rights; but many pets seem to enjoy the attention that wearing a costume attracts.
I recently came across an article discussing Pethead grooming products in Pet Product News International magazine. Pethead is licensed to Skaffles LLC by Bedhead, which is an edgy brand of human hair products which features packaging with unusual shapes, colors and fonts. This is the first time I’ve seen any human hair care or personal care brand extended into the pet space. Like the Bedhead brand, Pethead products are positioned at a premium price point, with shampoos at $18 on Amazon.com According to the article, this is also Skaffles’ first foray into pet products, the company previously specialized in trendy accessories targeted at teenage girls. The Pethead brand also includes accessories for dogs. Skaffles plans to further extend its pet products into grooming items for cats and American Kennel Club (AKC) licensed merchandise. This product line again confirms the humanization of pets trend and marks a breakthrough in crossover branding, which I’ve previously only seen in pet toys and clothing. I’m eager to see what pops up next!
An article from the San Diego Union Tribune talks about the social media strategies of two area businesses, one of which is Petco. Petco learned that employees were talking about the company on both Facebook and Twitter and decided to leverage those tools for the brand. On Facebook, Petco has both a fan page and a group; the group encourages people to become a fan. Petco also has an official Twitter account a YouTube channel and a blog on their main site; links to their social media accounts appear on the blog page. Not only does Petco use popular social media sites extensively, they also promote a pet-centric online community with zootoo.com through the Petco.com site.