Archive for trends

Pet retailers FSI activity up in 2009

Free Standing Inserts

Free Standing Inserts

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.

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Aqua Pure Breed bottled water for dogs

Aqua Pure Breed logo

Aqua Pure Breed logo

Aqua Pure Breed started following me on Twitter, introducing me to another entry in the bottled water for dogs category. This product offers  innovative user-friendly packaging; it comes in a wide-mouthed plastic bottle  that serves as a bowl.  In addition to plain spring water, Aqua Pure Breed comes in two enhanced varieties, one for joint support and one claiming to support healthy skin and coat. The only package size now available is 8 ounces, and the plain variety comes with either a pink or blue top.

The company website has a retailer finder which wouldn’t function for me, but their Facebook page has announcements of  new retailers, most of which are in the company’s home state of California. Home delivery of 48 bottle cases of Aqua Pure Breed is available for $59.95.

The company website notes product launch in spring 2008, but other materials note that the product became available at retail in the summer of 2009.  Their Twitter and Facebook streams mention high-profile dog events, like the AKC Invitational shows taking place this weekend in Long Beach. The company has also publishes the Active Dog Guide which identifies dog-friendly places in several US locations and it actively encourages people to includes their dogs in more activities and  businesses to become more dog friendly toward both their employees and guests.

What I like about this product is the packaging, which eliminates the need to take a separate bowl when traveling with your dog.  I might argue that 8 ounces may not be adequate for every dog, so I would hope to see larger bottles offered in the future.  Aqua Pure Breed promotes the bottles as disposable; they are recyclable as well. No mention was made as to whether the products are approved for human consumption.

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Halo sponsors iPhone app for Freekibble.com

Free Kibble Logo

Free Kibble Logo

Petfood Industry reported that Halo pets has signed on as a sponsor for Freekibble.com’s  iPhone app, Kibble Katch.  Freekibble donates 10 pieces of kibble for each click on a trivia game on their site.  The food is donated by corporate  sponsors which manufacture premium natural  petfoods, including Castor & Pollux and Canidae on the Freekibble website;  Halo donates food for games played on the iPhone app.  Freekibble is the brainchild of Mimi Ausland, a 12 year old girl from Bend, Oregon and offers sections that spawn both dog and cat food donations.  The synergy here combines many elements bubbling up in marketing and social movements today: youth involvement in social causes, casual gaming, mobile advertising applications, and the growing popularity of the natural petfood category.

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Bottled Water for Dogs

Sport Dog Spring Water

Sport Dog Spring Water

I’ve seen dog sport drinks, dog beer, and now I’ve discovered a bottled spring water  marketed especially for dogs.  Sport Dog water, which launched in 2007 is available for order online through the Thirstmonger site and also has distribution in the Eastern US through Royal Pet Supplies.  This bottled spring water meets all FDA regulations for human consumption, so owners can share a swig with their pet.  At $7.99 for 24 half liter bottles  pricing is in line with the retail prices of name brand bottled waters, but well above the weekly specials on water at my local Kroger store, especially if you add in (for my location)  $7.95 to ship it to Michigan.   A bit of a silly product, in my opinion, but a healthy choice for dogs – and their owners.

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The Future of Immunity Claims for Dog Food?

Cocoa Krispies with Immunity Claim

Cocoa Krispies with Immunity Claim

This article isn’t directly about dog food, but may give the industry some food for thought. USATODAY recently reported on comments critical of Kellogg’s for labelling  Cocoa Krispies cereal with a claim that the cereal boosts immunity.   If you do a Google search on dog food and immunity, over 150,00 results appear, including links to specific dog foods, supplements, and sites discussing canine nutrition.  Although I can certainly believe that a complete and balanced dog food is a more credible source of immunity boosting ingredients than a chocolate flavored breakfast cereal, this uproar does raise the question of what magnitude of proof might be required to make these claims in the future.

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More Dog Humanization: Dog Beer

Chihuahua enjoying Kwispelbier

Chihuahua enjoying Kwispelbier

Latest sighting in the humanization of dogs trend – my latest Dogs in Canada newsletter has arrived with an article about dog beers.   The article profiles three dog-targeted brews, Kwispelbier from the Netherlands, Australia’s Dog Beer created by an enterprising pet retailer, and the US entry,  Bowser Beer.  Bowser Beer even has its own Facebook page. Producers of these beverages claim they offer the product to raise awareness of the hazards of giving beer to dogs and allowing people who just can’t resist sharing a brew with their dog a safer option.  My opinion? Your dog (and your pocketbook) will be better off if he or she drinks fresh, clean water.

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Dog Whisperer debuts Cesar’s Way magazine

Cesar Millan, aka The Dog Whisperer

Cesar Millan - The Dog Whisperer

MediaPost reports that Cesar Millan, also known as The Dog Whisperer from his National Geographic television series of that name, launched a magazine titled Cesar’s Way with the first issue published on September 15, 2009.  Cesar’s Way will publish two issues in 2009 and go to a bi-monthly schedule in 2010.

This provides further proof of not only Mr Millan’s personal celebrity status, but the strength of the dog services industry in the face of the recession and weakness in the magazine sector generally.  The magazine will focus on the human-canine bond with stories about people and their dogs, including both celebrity and non-celebrity dog owners.  Stories about dog training and adapting to life with dogs will also be included in the magazine.

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Research on Senior Pets and Overweight Pets

Packaged Facts announced the publication of a new report analyzing the need for products targeted at senior pets, overweight pets and special needs pets in the US.  The report notes that according to American Veterinary Medical Association and Association for Pet  Obesity Prevention research, the proportion of American pets in these groups is higher than the market shares for products targeted at them. This indicates an opportunity for product manufacturers and retailers who can convince these pets’ owners to purchase products addressing their specific conditions.

According to the most recent research by the AVMA and APOP, over 40% of pets are either over the age of 6 or overweight, their studies did not indicate what proportion of pets fall into both categories.   In a related story, Petfood Industry magazine reported on a study which found that Beagles who were allowed to overeat a diet that included human snacks re-gained weight at much lower caloric intake levels than those required to gain weight in the first phase of the study.

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Halloween Costumes for Dogs

Bull Terrier in Poodle Costume

Bull Terrier in Poodle Costume

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.

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Bedhead line extension: Pethead

Pethead logo

Pethead logo

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!

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