Old Dogs CAN Learn New Tricks: How the Pet Care Industry is Evolving Consumer Engagement

While many brands have been focused on crossing over to online from traditional brick and mortar, Amazon surprised many industry experts by recently doing the complete opposite. The recent re-branding of the now Amazon-owned Whole Foods has reinvigorated the conversation about brands crossing between the online and brick and mortar retail space.

While the new crossover is proving to be beneficial to consumers with immediate price cuts and membership benefits to Prime users, it also allows Amazon to improve aspects of its business to better engage with consumers through the blending of online and physical experiences. This is just one example that illustrates how unexpected industry shifts can have huge rewards for brands and consumers looking for a more advanced, personal retail experience. There’s no doubt that Amazon is a leading brand in digital transformation with their emphasis on improving the customer experience; but how are other industries paving the way to their own digital transformation?

Consumer Engagement Leaders in Pet Care

One industry that is showing an interesting shift is the pet care industry, with a variety of new online offerings and consumer-centric products. While the pet supply industry may not be the largest industry of the bunch, consider that global sales for the industry totaled $66.75 billion in 2016. Many pet care brands have sought out ways to make their products appeal to an online world, keeping the industry up with the growing consumer demand for convenience and premium products in recent years. 

Our communications insights team curated a list of their three favorite, forward-thinking pet care companies that are leading the pack in evolving the consumer experience for their industry.

The Savvy Shopper - Blue Buffalo

Over the past several years, Blue Buffalo has become one of the top selling natural pet food brands in the United States. As the organic and farm-to-table movements began to gain popularity among humans, the brand applied similar ideologies to its own line of healthy pet food. As a way to attract research-driven shoppers, the brand began its initial campaign for its online comparison tool

Advertising drove viewers to their website where they could compare the ingredients in many of the top names in dog food, see cost differences, and receive coupons. The campaign has proven to be such as success that it has persisted through a 2014 lawsuit proclaiming the brand of falsely advertising ingredients in its Life Protection Formula. Savvy shoppers still resonated with the campaign due to Blue Buffalo’s attempts at transparency and ever-growing product options, helping viewers make decisions about ingredients without having to read bags of kibble at the grocery store.

The Hygienic Patron - Tidy Cats Direct

One of the fastest growing internet trends in recent years is the increasing number of subscription box services. One can accomplish a wide variety of tasks, from wearing reasonably priced cosmetics to selecting and ordering clothing without ever having to leave their home to purchase any of it. Naturally, this begs the question, why should cat owners have to leave the house to purchase cat litter?

Purina asked the same question and created Tidy Cats Direct, a disposable litter box delivered to your door. Similar attempts at creating disposable litterboxes have been made in the past, but Tidy Cats Direct utilizes the odor protection of its own cat litter while being able to be purchased easily through a variety of online retailers. The campaign delivers an experience tailored to convenience, timeliness (delivered when you most need it!) and ultimately, good feline hygiene.

The Custom Consumer - Tails.com

The last example of a service that is currently thriving online comes in the form of customized products. The internet has allowed those with niche tastes to easily add their own personal flair to purchases at direct-to-consumer prices. As the specialized nutrition trend has continued to grow, and with pet owners questioning the ingredients used in animal food, it created the perfect landscape for a customized pet food provider.

Enter Tails.com. After launching in 2014, it offered consumers from the United Kingdom the ability to create a unique and specially formulated blend of dog food that was delivered to their door. Its 2017 campaign shows viewers how simple it is to select preferences like age, size, and energy level, to match each dog’s specifications. This process also allows for a flexible price point as well, giving consumers the ability to tailor the product for a balance of nutrition and cost.

Creating opportunities with your consumers

As industries, and the companies with them, look for ways to reinvent the customer experience, these brands offer a reminder that any industry can find ways to leverage digital experiences to appeal to consumers. It is true that humans reflect their own desires as consumers onto their pets, allowing online subscription box services and other such trends to flourish in the pet care industry. 

At the end of the day, Amazon’s Whole Foods merger is not unlike the examples in the pet care industry - both are creating new opportunities to interact with consumers and providing unique, tailored goods and services they didn’t know they wanted, but are eager to try out.


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By Luke Sword
About the Author:

Luke Sword is an Advertising Analyst at Ebiquity, plc

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