For the last 50 years hard goods manufacturers in the Pet Industry have been immune to the need for marketing. Many companies made money hand over fist pushing non-branded (or very limited branded) dog toys, beds, grooming tools, collars & leashes, etc. All it had to do is get the product on the shelf and it was an overnight success. Unfortunately and fortunately, the pet industry is going through a massive transformation that is putting non-branded products at the bottom of the heap and brands like Kong are becoming the darlings of the large pet chains. Why is this happening?
- Increased Competition. Take a look at the toy or treat aisles at Petco or Petsmart. There are so many different products and limited shelf space. If you went to Global – all you see is Toys, Treats & Leashes – Oh My! How will your brand stand out if you have no consumer demand, no brand awareness and no real point of differentiation? If you don’t have any marketing budget, save yourself a fortune and put your money in the bank. A .0001% return is better than losing thousands of dollars developing a product that will go nowhere because you don’t intend on marketing it in any meaningful way.
- Responsibility of Driving Demand is Shifting from Retailer to Manufacturer. This is something common in Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) which we will define here as “products found in grocery stores”. No CPG company would EVER go to market without a marketing plan & budget because grocery stores EXPECT the manufacturer to drive demand. In Pet this wasn’t the case until now. Petsmart is leading the way to a more grocery mentality – expecting that hard goods companies come to the table with consumer demand built in. If you don’t have consumer demand (brand awareness, trial & repeat purchase), Petsmart is not going to pick up your product. It’s a simple as that. Petco is closely following this mentality.
So get out there and start marketing! Start slow. Write a press release yourself and send it to the trade magazines. Include a picture of your product. Start doing some trade advertising to get buyer awareness up. Once you have distribution start advertising to consumers.
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