Pet Product News reported on a co-marketing promotion between two of food giant Nestle’s divisions, Jenny Craig weight loss and Purina pet foods work together to promote weight loss for both pet owners and their pets. Project Pet Slim down is marketed through veterinarians as a New Years resolution for the pet and is not mentioned on either the Jenny Craig or Purina web sites. The Project Pet Slim down site has information on assessing your pet’s condition, tips for getting your pet more active, pet weight loss reality show videos and reference to weight loss pet foods available by prescription from Purina. The Jenny Craig part of the program is optional for pet owners and offers a 30-day trial to the program (food sold separately.)
The New Year’s resolution tie in is a twist I haven’t seen in marketing diet pet foods before, and another validation of the pet humanization trend. While I doubt many pets are looking to make changes for the New Year, obesity in American pets is a growing problem, just as it is in their owners. I applaud Purina for making the effort to promote better health in both pets and their owners.
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.
Petfood Industry reported on another entrant in the dog beverage category. Dogdration is the brainchild of Colorado State University student Brian Fate who felt his dog needed to replace electrolytes after vigorous exercise. The Rocky Mountain Collegian recently featured a story on Brian and his company. The product is available online and in a limited number of retail locations. At nearly $4 for a 20 oz bottle and $36 for a case of 12 this is clearly a premium product (I’d bet my dogs would drink Gatorade for a lot less!) Marketing efforts are well steeped in social media; Dogdration has Facebook , YouTube and Twitter accounts and Brian Fate’s Linkedin and MySpace profiles mention he is founder of the company. Dogdration has even hired professional blog writers to help with marketing efforts.
I’m not certain that dogs need beverages more complicated than water, but this product appears better researched than most. Brian’s passion for exercise and concern for his dog is reflected in Dogdration, while some of the other entrants seem purely opportunistic. I will continue to watch this emerging product category with interest.
PetsMart and GNC recently announced a partnership to create a line of pet supplements available exclusively through PetsMart retailers and website. The supplement line launches in fall, 2010 according to an article on financial news site CDTV.
This is interesting development marks the convergence of several trends. Vitamin and supplement usage is increasing for humans, pet care is becoming more humanized, and people are becoming more interested in premium nutrition for their pets. This is a great opportunity for both partners; joining two strong brands in an area where there are few well-known competitors.
My concern is that pets may end up being over-supplemented as many of them already eat a nutrionally balanced commercial diet. If the worst that happens is that some dogs produce expensive urine when they excrete excess vitamins, that’s not a terrible thing. But dogs as well as people are harmed by overuse of some supplements. Owners should make sure their veterinarians are aware of the supplements as well as the food that their animals consume.
Proctor and Gamble recently announced that they had purchased holistic pet food manufacturer Natura Pet Products which describes its products as “The Healthiest Pet Food in the World.” This action gives P&G entry into the fastest growing segment of the pet food industry with a portfolio of well-respected, selectively distributed brands in that space. These brands join P&G’s mass market Iams and premium Eukanuba brands and allows the company to leverage Natura’s credibility in holistic and natural pet foods. Eukanuba has dabbled in this sector with its Naturally Wild products, but the brand does not have strong credibility in this market space.
Natura now sells six brands of pet food and treats. Their EVO brand was one of the first to offer grain-free pet food; other brands focus on simple, organic, and premium quality ingredients. One thing I appreciate about Natura is a fearless approach to their competition as they offer an online comparison tool where consumers can match their products with competitive pet foods; including other premium and holistic foods.
Some in the “good food” movement for pets seem nervous about one of the world’s biggest consumer packaged good firms acquiring Natura. I see it as a savvy business move by P&G and I suspect they fully realize the power of these vigilant consumers both to build and destroy brand equity. It will be interesting to see how branding, distribution and promotion develop after this ownership change, which is still undergoing regulatory review.
The Card Emporium, a blog associated with a card sending business focused a post on the potential of pet greeting cards. Noting the strength of the pet market and pet humanization trends, the author points to pet greeting cards as an area worthy of investment, both for retail sales to pet owners and as a relationship tool for businesses. Cards from pets, to pets, and acknowledging pet-related milestones in the lives of pet owners are all areas ripe for expansion.
MediaPost reported on DelMonte’s sponsorship of a pet blogger conference, BlogPaws, April 9-10, 2010 in Columbus Ohio. The conference is open to all people who blog about pets, whether personally or for a corporation. Del Monte’s Meow Mix cat food and Kibbles ‘n Bits dog food are the presenting sponsors, and are joined by a host of other pet food, pet product, pet retailer, veterinary, and pet media sponsors.
BlogPaws conference sessions help attendees create successful blogs, covering branding, search engine optimization, promotions, and some of the most common pet blog topics, like product reviews and rescue. You can follow the conference on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook.
It’s killing me that I entered dog shows on the same dates before I learned about this event – I would love to go!
Brandweek featured an article discussing Iam’s integrated campaign for its ProActive pet foods containing prebiotics. The food has specific ingredients that stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut, and should be distinguished from probiotic compounds like yogurt which contain beneficial bacteria, which would not live through the processing required to manufacture dry dog food.
Iams enlisted two spokes animals, one canine, one feline to promote their prebiotic foods. The dog, a Bulldog named Munch, has a Facebook page which has attracted over 1200 fans. All of the ProActive health products carry a distinctive swirled symbol on the packaging, which is carried over into point of purchase and print displays. ProActive’s marketing uses he theme line “I am beautiful inside” which was used across online, point of purchase, and television advertising.
These products show the increasing interest in nutraceuticals in human nutrition, which has spilled over into the nutritional interests for our pets. I found the Iams website very carefully worded in its description of the benefits of these products, avoiding any outright health claims.