PetCoach Comprehensive In-Store Dog Support System

My husband and I are fans of Shark Tank, and we happened to watch a vintage episode from November 2016 where Pupbox was pitched,  The company was offering a subscription box to puppy owners which followed the puppies with age-appropriate offerings through adulthood, when they switched to an adult dog version of the box.  The segment ends happily as Shark Robert Herjavec makes an offer that the owners accept.

As the owners mentioned the struggles that inspired the business, which involved figuring out what they should be buying for their own pet, it struck me that had they only purchased their dog from a responsible, AKC Breeder of Merit type of breeder, they would not have had so much trouble, as a dedicated dog breeder will follow and support their puppy buyers throughout the puppies’ lifetime and often beyond.

But Pupbox, and in turn, Petco realized that not every dog or puppy buyer is so lucky. People acquire dogs many ways including, from friends and family who no longer want the dog, from rescues and shelters that don’t have the staff to engage in long-term follow-up, as strays that wander into their lives, and from breeders whose motivation to engage with puppy buyers ends at the point of sale. Petco acquired Pupbox in November 2017,  about 5 months after they acquired Petcoach, an online consulting service which also provides the same type of support that comes with a responsibly bred puppy.

In July 2018, Petco announced a retail experiment, turning PetCoach into a retail store in San Marcos, California.  The concept provides a select group of high-quality products and services inside a PetCoach store. Products include high quality, curated food selection, including custom formulations from Petco’s partner Just Food For Dogs and also offers comprehensive online record keeping for dog services available in-store.

In today’s world where specialty retail is under attack from both online vendors and the expanding pet product set in mass retailers, this provides a service level that will be very hard to match.  The question is whether this concept will generate sufficient loyalty and in turn profit, to survive.

 

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Petco Promotes Organic Petfood

Petco logo
Petco Logo

DMNews reported on Petco‘s use of email marketing, including the recent addition of  content promoting organic pet foods.  These emails are supported by in-store seminars about organic foods as well as the Petco-sponsored Facebook page, Generation Natural Pet.  The article goes on to describe more details of the Petco e-communications strategy including species targeting, pet birthday greetings, and product reviews.

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Petco is all over Social Media

Petco Logo
Petco Logo

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.

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Celebrity Dog Marketing

Petfood Industry News published an article about the increasing use of celebrities in dog food and product marketing.  Rachel Ray collaborated with Dad’s to create a  pet food  line called Nutrish, Cesar Milan has a relationship with Petco, Martha Stewart and Purina and Ellen Degeneres’ relationship with Halo foods are all detailed in the discussion.  For manufacturers using celebrity endorsers, there is always a risk/reward analysis to be made. A popular celebrity will raise awareness, but they must be seen as credible endorsers – not quite as much an issue with pets than say a car brand, and the manufacturer always runs the risk of celebrity controversies which can damage their brand as well.  In the case of celebrities launching products under their own label, a manufacturer can benefit through the additional production, but relies on the celebrity to do effective marketing to support  demand.

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