Dogdration dog sports beverage

dogdration logoPetfood 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.

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PetsMart and GNC create line of pet supplements

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.

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Proctor and Gamble Purchases Natura Pet Products

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.

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Walmart expands ASPCA partnership

Lend A Paw LogoWalmart is expanding its partnership with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA.) In addition to a line of ASPCA branded products featured in the Walmart pet department in 2008, the companies recently launched a co-branded Facebook page titled Lend A Paw and are sponsoring a Pet Fair in Miami on May 1, 2010.

MediaPost writes about the ASPCA’s promotional efforts including the Facebook page and partnerships with multiple pet product companies to promote April as National Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month.  Walmart’s move to associate itself with this well-known animal charity shows that the company takes the pet market seriously and is trying hard to position itself as a caring, pet-friendly company.  This reminds me a bit of Warren G Harding’s promotion of his Airedale, Laddie Boy, as the First Dog, which helped deflect public attention from some of the more colorful aspects of his family life.

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Pet Greeting Cards

Pet Sympathy Card

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.

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Del Monte Brands Sponsor Pet Blogger Event

Blog Paws LogoMediaPost 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!

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Iams ProActive dog food with prebiotics

Iams ProActive dog food

Iams ProActive dog food

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.

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Fetching Tags Custom Dog Tags

Fetching TagsI’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.

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Puppy Tweets from Mattel

Mattel logoAn alert on the Eurodogtraining blog led me to news of a new product announcement from Mattel: Puppy Tweets, a device that allows your dog to send tweets via a collar tag.  The tag responds to noise and motion and sends one of several tweets in response to your dog’s activity (or lack thereof.)   Details on how the device works were a little sparse, apparently the collar device sends data on sound and motion to a USB sensor mounted on your computer, and you leave your dog’s Twitter account signed in while you’re out.  I find it similar in concept to the  sensor-based TweetingBar account which reports on the beer keg’s status in the New York office of digital agency 360i.

Puppy Tweets allows your dog will join a number of other tweeting canines, most of whom have more than a few canned responses to share.  The only practical use I can see is to check on a dog with barking issues when left alone.  I don’t as a rule follow dog accounts that only tweet items of interest to dogs  and I don’t plan on signing up any of my canines when this product launches in the fall.  For $29.95 it might be an amusing novelty to some, but for I can’t see it catching on with anyone who is serious about either dogs or Twitter.

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HSUS launches Humane Choice dog food

Humane Choice Dog FoodThe Humane Society of the United States has entered the pet food  business with the launch of Humane Choice, a vegetarian dog food made from United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) organic-certified ingredients. Manufactured in Uruguay,  this product is  sold through select PETCO and Whole Foods stores.  A kibble which meets the American Association of Feed Control Officers (AAFCO) standards for adult maintenance is the only product available. Humane Choice’s marketing arm is the G&B Marketing company, which sends 6% of the wholesale price of each bag to the HSUS.

While I can only speculate about the motives behind the launch of this product, it seems more about providing a feeding option for people sympathetic toward the HSUS’s stand against domestic animals than the nutritional needs of dogs.   The group actively opposes farming of animals and the feedstuffs fed to meat animals; they feel animals are equal in status to humans and should not be owned or consumed.  HSUS opposes breeding and working with dogs,  which may be the reason no growth or performance formulas are offered,  I suspect it’s also hard to meet those standards without using animal protein.

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