2018 was a busy year for the pet industry. With the significant mergers of companies combined with the rapid growth of the premium grocery industry, people are spending more money on their pets than ever before. But what about the pet loyalty industry? What level of personalization, segmentation, and engagement do pet store owners have with their customers? The answer may not be as obvious as you think.
The pet industry has been growing by leaps and bounds, and it’s now estimated that 68% of all households have some sort of pet in their home (American Pet Products Association). Our furry little friends aren’t just companions anymore though—they’re our family. It’s said that Millennials and Generation Z are getting married older, having children later, and getting pets at an increasing rate. They also have much more disposable income that allows them to spend on high-end products and services. Emerging trends are important to note when it comes to pet loyalty because at the end of the day, our consumers are parents and most of us want the best for our fur-babies. Things like subscription services, premium products, and specialized technology project the pet industry to be worth over $96 billion by 2020. Increased spending and new technology has allowed us to track, monitor, and treat with convenience and ease, which makes it a prime market for loyalty.
The popular trend of health and wellness has now carried over into how we treat and care for our pets. With this we’ve started to see lifestyle fads infiltrate the pet food industry. More people than ever are looking for premium pet products that incorporate more natural and holistic components. In fact, studies show that owners are more likely to feed their pets meals that are similar to their own, with 52% claiming that diet is better than what they eat themselves. We’ve seen a rise in homemade food, grain-free and specialty diets, transparency of sourced ingredients, and even alternatives to meat. Consumers want to fully understand the ingredients and know where they come from so that they can feel confident giving it to their pet. The same could be said about certain brands of cleaners, supplements, toys, litter, and just about any other type of pet product out there. Price is no longer the main factor when choosing a brand, instead consumers want high-quality products that they can feel good spending their money on. Premium food is a perfect example of such dedicated loyalty because once a consumer finds a brand that their pet likes, it’s rare that they switch from it.
Smart technology has also introduced itself to the pet industry with 56% of owners having at least one form of smart technology specifically for their pet. This may include things like doggy TV, health monitoring litter pans, in-home cameras, and even treat dispensers to delight your pup while you’re at work. We can expect to see new technology on the market later this year as the demand for such products grow. Retailers will need to keep up with emerging technology trends and develop protocols and procedures that include the platforms customers are used to.
The humanization of our pets has also increased spending on the convenience of subscription services. Studies show that 4 out of 10 consumers who are part of subscription services themselves are more likely to opt-in for one for their pet. Not to mention they are the most basic form of loyalty—you already know that customer will be “returning” again next month. In 2019, the pet industry can expect to see a growing demand and expansion of delivery services and exclusive memberships. Customers are moving more towards the “set it and forget it” model where food, treats, and other products are automatically shipped out when needed. Not only is it convenient, but it’s ideal. In our automation-obsessed culture, getting products shipped directly to your door isn’t exactly new tech, but traditional retailers are going to need to come up with something more creative to compete with big online retailers.
Trends in health, tech, and the increase in yearly pet spending have transformed the industry into a loyalty goldmine. As e-commerce giants like Amazon gain the business of consumers around the globe, brick-and-mortar stores find themselves on a slippery slope. There are limited options for pet stores who just don’t have the money or infrastructure to support a robust loyalty and engagement platform. The available pet-tailored options are cumbersome and asynchronous that don’t allow for any customization or segmentation, only manufacturer redemption. There needs to be a new type of platform that can streamline pet rewards and allow you to communicate directly with customers. The data is out there, we just need to utilize it in a way that works.
It’s getting harder to generalize pet owners because the audience can be made up of almost anyone. Socio-economic class, marriage status, geographic location, and age have little to do with people’s connection to pets. What makes up pet owners is the collective belief that we love our pets and should provide them with the best care. We need to start recognizing the demand for quality products and services by introducing a seamless application that rewards across all industries. That way we can foster greater loyalty with pet owners and fill the gap that the pet industry so desperately needs. There may not be a viable solution to pet loyalty now, but we predict there will be something great catching on soon.
Loyal~n~Save, the loyalty industry’s latest umbrella program, is actively coming up with a solution to this problem. By allowing manufacturers to directly post their coupons onto the platform, pet retailers can automatically grab the deals they want to participate in and offer them directly to their customer. No more mail-in coupons, double data entry, or delayed rebates. Retailers can customize their own campaigns to create fun and exciting challenges for their customers to engage with, and even upload their products into an online storefront for reward redemption. Stealth marketing capabilities also allow you to push products you want at the times you choose. Someone wants to buy a bag of food and you want to push a different brand? Automatically trigger a campaign that pops up in front of both your customer and employee’s face recommending the sale. If you’d like to find out more about how you can increase your brand awareness, foster loyalty, utilize your data, and turn employees to sales superstars, visit loyalnsave.com/merchant or find us at the 2019 Global Pet Expo!
This article was originally published on Loyalty360, the association for customer loyalty.
This article was written by Loyal~n~Save, an omni-channel customer loyalty solution for retailers looking to increase customer retention and new customer acquisition.