The Internet Becomes the New Pet Parent
state other than the one in which the business resides. For example,
California charges several hundred dollars per year for a license for
a foreign corporation or LLC to operate in the state.
“That’s why I recommend that clients who use the internet to
research information on incorporation consult with legal counsel
familiar with the state laws in which the business will operate,” Fulbright said.
LIMITED LIABILITY COMPANY
“Another form of business entity, the limited liability company, can
be advantageous to small business owners under some circumstances,” Fulbright said.
This form of business is most popular among professional
Fulbright offered the following insights and said, “In an LLC:
• Compared to a corporation, there are fewer restrictions placed on
the owners in how they take money out of the business and how
much they take out as compensation.
• An LLC does not pay entity level taxes on profits; the owners
pay taxes on their allocated share of profits, and losses can offset
owners’ other income to the extent of active participation.
• An LLC provides greater protection from creditors and general
lawsuits if run properly, compared to a general partnership and
Sound complicated? Well, it is. That’s why no single form of busi-
ness structure can be said to be the best choice for every entrepreneur.
As with most other business decisions, a sound knowledge of
the alternatives provides the best foundation for making the right
choice. Before you make any decision involving your business structure, you should consult with your accountant and an attorney who
specializes in business issues.
William J. Lynott is a veteran freelance writer who specializes in business
management as well as personal and trade publications and newspapers,
plus consumer magazines including Reader’s Digest, AARP Bulletin and
CON TINUED FROM PAGE 22
BY DAVID LUMMIS
Midway through my second decade of all things pet, I was beginning to think I’d seen it all: Pet specialty big boxes carve out a huge share of pet product sales, large- ly at the expense of independents, while becoming important purveyors of pet services as well. “Natural” grows from a pet specialty niche to a cross-category, cross-channel
marketer must, jet-fueled by product recalls and the resultant focus on product safety. An
industry revolutionized by all things human-style, from natural foods and supplements
to cross-over human drugs and medical procedures to knock-offs of human toys, apparel,
and the list goes on. The “pets as family” theme, drilled into the public consciousness by
everything from retailer slogans to reality shows, becomes a normal mindset, sanctioning
and encouraging previously at least somewhat reined in proclivities. American pet owners
adopt a sky’s-the-limit spending approach to pet health and wellness, not to mention plain
old pampering. Retailers of all kinds leap onto the pet market wagon, most of them carving
out a respectable slice of the pie.
What’s going on now, though, might be bigger.
If you’re thinking e-commerce, you’re partly right. It’s no secret that sales of pet products are streaming online. The trend has been in force for more than a decade, but the shift
is now occurring at warp speed, and the impact is broader than internet sales soaring at
the expense of brick-and-mortar. E-commerce is changing a longstanding retail paradigm
by accelerating the breakdown in the once sacrosanct divide between
pet specialty and mass. Via mass premiumization, that breakdown,
too, has been in force for some time, with Blue Buffalo’s cross-over into
mass, and mass premium entries like Nutrish, among the most notable
moves. But with its virtual marketplace, in one fell swoop e-commerce
all but erases the pet specialty/mass distinction, making omnichannel
the safest bet for forward-looking marketers and brands.
Monumental as it is, however, e-commerce is but one facet of an
even larger trend that is rapidly changing how pet owners interact
with products, brands, marketers, retailers, service providers and,
most important of all, their furry family members. Reflecting and capi-
talizing on the advance of the internet, much of the innovation in pet products and services
involves technology and, increasingly, “the internet of things” (or Io T). Coined in 1999 by
Kevin Ashton, at the time a brand manager at Procter & Gamble, the term refers to “the
network of physical devices, home appliances, vehicles, and other items embedded with
electronics, software, sensors, and other components that enable the objects to connect
and exchange data,” per Wikipedia.
Within the pet market, examples of Io T already abound—in pet bowls that automatically reorder food for home delivery, cameras that allow pet owners to dispense food
or medications remotely, and smartphone-linked trackers that monitor not just the pet’s
location but also its vitals and behavior, compiling data logs and alerting pet owners
and veterinarians to potential health problems. The beauty of such products is that they
both automate humdrum pet care tasks and encourage pet owners to be more involved
with their pets, both in the flesh and from afar. Summing up how the e-commerce/
internet trend is reshaping the pet market landscape, David Sprinkle, Packaged Facts
publisher and research director, observes, “The internet is the new ‘pet parent.’” I wish
I’d thought of that.
David Lummis is the lead pet-market analyst for Packaged Facts, a division of MarketResearch
.com. The data cited above is drawn primarily from Packaged Facts’ latest pet market report, U.S.
Pet Market Outlook 2018-2019 ( packagedfacts.com).