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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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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Pet Spending Resilience

Retailwire reported on research regarding pet category retail spending before and during the current recession.  Pre-recession research showed that pet spending was less likely to suffer during a econonmic downturn than spending on groceries, household and luxury goods.  However, data on actual spending in the fourth quarter of 2008 showed that pet owners shifted their shopping trips so that they were buying more of their pet supplies at mass marketers and dollar stores rather than grocery and pet specialty retailers.  The story concludes with a warning that retailers may be able to count on pet owners to keep purchasing pet supplies, but they cannot take their loyalty and spending levels for granted.

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Canidae dog food marketing reaches out

I spent last weekend at the Midland Michigan Kennel Club dog shows. These are fairly small shows with a limited number of vendors, but it’s the second all breed show I’ve attended in the past month where Canidae had a booth. This is a brand I’ve been familiar with as a holistic, high quality dog food and cat food (Felidae), but not one widely used among dog show people. I saw it as almost a cult brand popular with people who were dog “foodies” who subscribe to Whole Dog Journal.   Canidae is making a deliberate effort to target show people this year, reaching out with fairly large displays, sampling, and coupons. The representative I talked to mentioned that the company recognized how influential breeders could be and decided to reach out to them.  Canidae offers a  breeder/multi pet discount program which allows people with multiple dogs who are also active in dog activities to get one bag of dog food free for every five purchased. I asked if they were going to get into sponsoring shows, as  Eukanuba and Purina have done and was told they are considering it.

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