A brand is defined by Philip Kotler the author of Marketing Management as, “a name, term, sign, symbol, or design or a combination of them, intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of the competitor.” Does this sound like what you are trying to do? If you are in the pet industry and NOT selling dog or cat food then probably not. Outside of food manufacturers whose leading brands are owned by top Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) firms, the pet industry has lagged behind other industries in terms of branding. Small to medium manufacturers of commodity toys, treats, collars and leashes have lined their pockets for years with a blatant disregard for developing a consumer brand. This worked great for the last 50 years. Manufacturers made tons of money and never invested in their brands.
This was a great strategy… until now. Pet retailers have woken up and discovered the power of private label and direct sourcing. They figured if consumers didn’t know any of the brands in their stores anyway, why don’t they just create their own brands? This is a great question. It would also lead to loyalty to their specific stores. Now retailers are taking it one step further and asking, ‘why don’t we just direct source from China and cut out the middle man?’ Now they can exceed 75% margins in even more categories. This is a great strategy for the likes of Petco and Petsmart but it is putting many pet manufacturers out of business.
Who will survive in the current pet environment? Unfortunately, only a handful of enlightened companies like Caitec with its HERO brand will change and thrive. The rest will ignore the call to create brands and fall by the wayside while pining away for the way things used to be. The Pet Industry needs to realize what the Consumer Packaged Goods industry has known forever — if you own the consumer relationship with your brand you can control your retailers (ask Procter & Gamble who is in control). However, if the retailer owns the consumer relationship because you have no brand, they will control you. Better yet, they will bypass you and develop their own brand and put you out of business.
Agency is Driving Force in Changing Perceptions of Marketing in the Pet Industry (Bronx, NY) – Bulldog Marketing & Sales, Inc. today announced the celebration of its fifth year in business. Bulldog is the Pet Marketing and Sales agency formed by industry veteran John Cullen to provide entrepreneurs, start-ups, and mid-sized organizations access to top level marketing talent without the expensive overhead. The agency was made famous by its controversial video rants such as, 10 Signs You are a Pet Business Clown and 5 Things I Hate about the Pet Industry that have served as a battle cry for the industry to start taking marketing more seriously. Traditionally the pet industry focuses on the push side (sell in) of the retail equation and very little on the pull side (consumer purchase). “It’s hard to believe it has been five years already,” said John Cullen, Bulldog’s Principal. “The results we have achieved for our clients speak for themselves. The bottom line is that marketing works – even in the pet industry. In fact, it’s a great way to stand out to retail buyers and consumers since so few companies in the industry do ANY marketing at all.” Bulldog’s past and present clients include Thundershirt, JW Pet Company, Absorption Corporation (now Healthy Pet) and new comer Old Mill Pet Products, LLC., a division of HJ Baker & Bro. Some of Bulldog’s work includes programs never before seen in the industry such as the Jeep Full of Fun, a JW Pet account specific program at Petsmart and the Scaredy Pet Challenge, a PR campaign for Thundershirt. It is also the driving force behind the new brand of dog treats, nature’s bits, creating its identity (name, logo, packaging, website, sales materials, etc.) and developing the sales channel. To celebrate its anniversary, Bulldog is planning a full year of activities including a $2000 donation to the ASPCA ($500/quarter), donating 50 hours of time to pet product start-ups and having an anniversary party for industry friends and clients at the Global Pet Expo in March. About Bulldog Marketing & Sales, Inc. Bulldog Marketing & Sales, Inc. is a full service agency formed in September, 2009. It has over 15 years of marketing and sales experience ranging from marketing strategy to new product development and retail sell-in. It has increased sales and developed new products for the Fortune 500 as well as for start-ups. Marketing & sales expertise includes: Pet Products, Consumer Packaged Goods and Consumer Electronics. Bulldog is headquartered in the Bronx, NY – a few miles north of mid-town Manhattan. For more information, visit www.bulldogms.com.