First Up: Sit, Stay, Buy!
The popular phrase “Pets are people, too!” has never been more true. Pet owners and their furry family members are evolving from a niche market into a mainstream buying power. According to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association’s (APPMA) 2007-2008 National Pet Owners Survey, 63 percent of U.S. households own pets, and, in the past four years, spending on pets has climbed 6 percent each year to a current rate of about $40.8 billion. “With the sophistication of technology and the proliferation of products, people had to become more creative in how they’re going to get their products into the marketplace.” says Vicki Lynne Morgan, president of Califon, N.J.–based Animal Brands.
Pet ‘Parents’ Will Pay More
U.S. pet owners range from low- to high-income levels. But because owning and providing for an animal is such an emotional activity, even lower-income prospects will purchase high-end products, asserts Angela Cooley, president of Springfield, Pa.–based Solutions Pet Marketing. She recalls initially making list selects of higher-income pet owners for a client’s holistic pet store, but eventually found that lower- and middle-income owners were also largely purchasing expensive, organic pet products.
For direct mail success, it is important to appeal to pet owners’ emotions, including unconditional love and nurturing. “You can appeal the same way to a pet person and their sense of nurturing as if you’re marketing to a parent,” says Morgan. Pet owners know that if they take care of Fluffy, she will return the favor by lowering your blood pressure, reducing your stress and fighting your depression. “Pets enhance the health of the owner, so anything that has to do with health care is really enriching the owner’s life—and enriching the pet’s life as well,” she adds.
In terms of copy and creative, marketers agree that the dog is the most popular and common pet—and is, therefore, a good choice when marketers are limited to only one image or narrative. If you are sending out more than one campaign, cast a wider net by varying your use of breeds, age and type of pet in both imagery and copy.