Keeping Your Pet Brand on Top – Season to Season - Ignite2X Full-Service Brand Marketing Agency
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With the sun-filled days of summer just around the corner, many pet parents will soon set their sights on spending more active time outdoors with pets by their side – from long evening walks and backyard play romps to weekend hiking trips and dips in the pool, lakes and creeks.

Just as humans lather on the sunscreen with the advent of summer, our pets also require extra TLC at this time of year to keep them healthy and looking their best – affording opportunity for pet brands to leverage unique needs of the season and engage pet parents with solutions that drive sales in the process.

Developing Trust, Becoming an Authority
As mentioned, summertime brings heightened outdoor activity with pets, placing them at greater risk for everything from parasite-borne illnesses, injuries, heat-related issues and skin and coat problems.  This opens the door for brands addressing these issues to position themselves as more than just another product, but rather as a valued partner supporting pet wellbeing.  For example, dry pet skin, constant scratching and hot spots are commonplace summertime issues that offer customer relationship building territory for the taking among pet shampoo and skin care brands. By creating engaging, educational campaigns around these conditions, brands competing in this space can help establish themselves as the “authority” who understands and solves these problems – forming an impression and connection that can be lasting.

Ability to achieve status as a trusted, approachable advocate in the minds of pet parents requires on-going commitment to an integrated strategic approach that includes elements such as:

  • Fostering a brand identity that resonates with pet parents on both an emotional level through storytelling and messaging that embraces the humanization of pets
  • Demonstrating a ‘below the surface’ understanding of everyday issues confronted by pet parents and how the brand can deliver useful solutions (i.e., tips for creating a more positive bathing experience, how to choose the shampoo that’s right for your dog and why that’s important, how to prevent the start of hot spots, etc.)
  • Inclusion of videos in social media posts/website to elevate engagement and educational value
  • In-store displays/shelf-talkers that deliver problem-solution messaging on both a functional and emotional level
  • Sharing a fun personality side to the brand for helping pet parents to readily engage and identify with it. Thematic social media driven contests showcasing images of healthy, happy pets who benefited from and pet parents who love the brand are just one example of how this can be accomplished.

Bringing Useful Solutions to the Table

We know that summertime means vacation time.  Anxiety often runs high for pets when boarded and long-lasting dog chew toys offer an excellent solution for easing emotional duress during this “time away from home.”  Research shows that providing long-lasting chew toys to pets placed in isolation helps improve their emotional wellbeing and reduce negative/destructive behavior when left alone.  This type of information can be packaged into a summertime focused campaign to both educate and remind pet parents to include these toys in their pet’s overnight bag.  And should mom or dad forget to pack the chew toys, there’s also the opportunity to develop veterinary office/boarding facility-ready displays and selling tips for showcasing these products for “needed on-the-spot” sales. Either way, leveraging such a strategy demonstrates both brand insight into pet issues and brings useful solutions to the table for the pet owner.

Building Out the Experience
The warm summer months also create concern for pet overheating, which has given rise to products designed to keep dogs cool and hydrated, both for use at home and on the road.  From toys that can be frozen to shoes that keep paws safe from hot road surfaces, from cooling beds to collapsible water bowls, the humanization of pets is leading to increased emphasis on comfort and protection during summer, especially as more families take pets along on family adventures.  For brands operating in this space, opportunity abounds to work with specialty retailers to build creative and intrusive displays that engage and sell the story of how pet parents can provide better protection for their loved ones during the heat of summer.  It also means developing targeted social media campaigns, replete with videos, that build out the experience of summertime adventure with pets, providing education on and showcasing how these products can create a more enjoyable summertime experience for pet and pet owner alike.  Established local/regional pet fairs, dog park festivals and outdoor/adventure events with a history of attracting large swaths of target pet owners provide yet another consideration for brands selling these experiential products to interact with pet parents through sponsorships, contests, and one-on-one interface.

Although summertime brings with it unique selling opportunities across a range of pet product categories, the main point of this article is to highlight the importance of having a marketing strategy in place for establishing competitive brand value and kindling customer relationships year-round, not just during any one season.  Pet brands that invest in knowing their customer and then position themselves as a resource that understands, is knowledgeable, and offers effective product solutions season to season are the ones who will win the game.  Consumers want more than just a product – they want a brand that is authentic, reliable, and invested in them and their pets.  When brands recognize and tap into the love pet parents hold for their fury friends, they will soon find themselves on the winning side of sales growth and customer loyalty.

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