Market Focus?Dog Lovers (311 words)
They are the fearless guardians, the tireless playmates, the sentient guides, the most loyal companions, and for some lucky people, the ultimate go-fors. Whether it's a pure-blooded poodle or a mangy mutt whose only claim to fame is a ratty old bandanna, if it's nose is wet and it's tail is wagging, it's probably loved by someone.
A study by the American Pet Association in 1998 found that of all the dog owners in the United States, more than half are more attached to their pets than to at least one other human being.
They are all things to more than 43 million people, and what do they ask for in return? Nothing—they can't talk (but don't try telling that to some of their owners).
If they could talk though, they'd probably ask for nothing more than a full belly, a warm place to turn around and lie down in and an occasional scratch behind the ears. Oh, and don't forget the mesquite-flavored rawhide bone, the genuine suede leash and collar with personalized name plates, a quilted car seat with a booster for maximum window enjoyment, a plush-lined, cedar dog house with an electronic-collar-activated doggie-door, and an infinite supply of Frisbees, balls and other assorted chewables destined to be covered in saliva only minutes out of the box.
Whether or not dog owners actually hear their coveted canines making these requests, the message still comes in loud and clear. More than 75 percent of cats and dogs will find gifts (costing on average $95) waiting under the tree for them come Christmas, shows a USA Today poll done by Gallup for PETsMART. But, how do you target this vast group without barking up the wrong tree?
"When you're in the market, it looks very limited," says Linda McAleer, executive vice president at Millard Group, which brokers for Fancy Publications (publishers of Dog Fancy), "because it's absolutely necessary to have dog ownership." McAleer explains that even though ownership appears on a lot of the files, one can't always be sure. Newsletters are great, says McAleer, because they often demonstrate a more specific interest in things like pet health or animal advocacy.