Banking on 2019
Four must-know tips for pet retailers looking
to rev up their sales in the new year.
As a retailer in today’s competitive economy, you face your fair share of challenges—from the pres- sures of competing with online providers to selecting a product mix that makes you stand out from your
competition and meets the needs of your clients. However, the World Pet Association (WPA) can assure you
there is good news: The pet product industry continues
to grow, and the demand for pet-pampering products
and safe and tasty food and treat options is on the raise.
In fact, data from Statista projects that U.S. pet store sales
will grow to approximately $21.6 billion dollars by 2021,
and the WPA Retail 2018 Operating Performance Report
projects a growth of 6. 5 percent in the coming year. This
is the time to capitalize on this incredible growth.
To make the most of the industry’s upward trajectory,
it is imperative that pet retailers be strategic, think creatively, and differentiate and diversify their product mix.
Now is a great time to evaluate your retail product mix
and marketing efforts.
As you evaluate your business and plan for 2019, we
suggest you think about this question: As a retailer, how
will I do a better job of being strategic, creative and different than anyone else? Dig deep to find the answer—
retailers that do will be just fine. How? It’s as simple as 1-2- 3-4.
Follow these four tips from WPA as you embark on your
journey to success in the new year:
TIP #1: DO YOUR CUSTOMER HOMEWORK
In this era of information technology, keeping track of
your shoppers—loyal, occasional and prospective—in
an up-to-date database is key to maintaining an active
customer base and boosting profits. But simply gathering information is not enough; it’s what you do with that
information that differentiates you from your competitors and drives current and future traffic to your business.
An email list can easily transform into a vehicle through
which you can glean valuable insight on what products
are performing best, analyze buying patterns of your customers, and shape the content and messaging you share
with your audience—appealing to individual interests in
There are four types of data you should consider
• Identity Data: Basic information, such as name,
email, phone number, social media channels, pet
name(s), etc., that allows you to reach your target
• Descriptive Data: Family, lifestyle and career details
that help you get a big picture of the types of people that compose your database. This information
can help you create messages and products that
resonate with your audience.
• Quantitative Data: Count of products purchased,
website views, email opens/click-throughs, social
sharing, etc., that qualify active online individuals
and allow you to identify engaged audiences.
• Qualitative Data: Information on individuals’ atti-
tudes, motivations and opinions that you collect
through open-ended questionnaires or online sur-
veys. This information can further influence your
messaging and store positioning by highlighting
the pain points, triggers and motivating factors of
Your database can and should collect much more than
customer contact information. When you add in behavioral data, like purchase history or coupon use, you build
a customer profile that allows you to establish trends
about what types of products are most popular and the
frequency of these purchases. It can also allow you to deduce what other products the customer might be interested in based on their shopping history.
Store loyalty programs are so much more beneficial to
the store than to the customer thanks to all the data you
can collect about that customer’s buying patterns. Every
time that a customer shops, your database gains valuable
information about their purchase preferences—brand,
quantity, frequency, etc.—and allows you to tailor promotions and messaging to these preferences.
TIP #2: PREPARE YOUR TEAM FOR SAVVY SHOPPERS
The industry is changing. Consumers are increasingly educated; exclusive brands are looking at nontraditional distribution channels including food, drug and mass (FDM);
online-only shopping is gaining even greater momentum;
and a multitude of other obstacles is putting pressure on
retailers. By truly knowing what your customers want
and how to take care of their needs, you and your team
will be one step ahead.
In 2019, consumers have perfected the art of price comparison and bargain hunting. This savvy shopping means
that retailers have to do more to engage shoppers and
build loyalty. Price and convenience are offered by every
good retailer and your online competition, so what makes
you stand out is a solid product differentiation strategy.
Defined by Investopedia as the worth or merits a customer ascribes to a product or service, this strategy is key to
success in a competitive marketplace. Retailers that provide high-quality products that cater to their customers’
needs will remain strong in 2019.
TIP #3: OPTIMIZE THE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
You know what they say: Experience is everything. That
saying holds true in today’s pet retail market. Value goes
beyond just price—it’s about the customer’s experience
and the expertise your staff is able to provide. Consumers
are looking for information and ideas, and they want to be
engaged in a way that they can’t with the internet.
Take, for example, the millennial generation: savvy
internet shoppers with the highest likelihood of own-
ing a pet. According to a recent Forbes article, millenni-
als are looking for personalized experiences. To achieve
this, they seek out professionals who understand their
preferences and make recommendations tailored to
their specific needs. Social interaction with brands is
also important to this target audience. They use social
media in real time, posting photos of their whereabouts
and purchases, which presents an invaluable oppor-
tunity for creative retailers who take advantage of this
trend and provide photo-worthy in-store experiences.
More than 50 percent of Instagram’s 400 million daily
users follow businesses, making Instagram a must-have
social media platform for your store. Filling loyal and po-
tential customers’ feeds with engaging content can con-
vert online views into in-store purchases. What’s more,
the majority of Instagram’s user base is between ages 18
and 29, which means that reaching the next generation of
pet owners—an audience that has been shown to spend
money on their pets—can be as simple as following these
steps to kick-start your Instagram presence. Studies have
shown that businesses that invest in video marketing
receive 66 percent more qualified leads annually and
achieve a 54 percent increase in brand awareness.
So what does your store give them that they can’t get
online? In today’s market, it’s about the experience—
what makes their trip to the store memorable. Service,
knowledge, excitement, engagement, theater, personalization, simplicity, value—all of these things and more
go into that equation and bring otherwise strictly online
shoppers into your store for the experience they can’t get
elsewhere. Be sure to be Instagram-worthy!
TIP #4: SOURCE NEW PRODUCTS
Product mix is the key to making your store interesting
and engaging. Be sure to select a mix that serves your customers’ unique needs. Are they seeking American-made
products? How about tech products? Are they looking for
natural and organic ingredients? Do they need diet food
and snack options? Imagine solutions to your customers’
shopping dilemmas, and build a product mix that solves
them, or fill a potential market void by anticipating and
serving your customers’ needs.
All shoppers are different. The best way to know what
products will resonate is to listen to your customers, make
note of their questions or ask them to take a survey that
will help you identify what is truly important to them.
This is an area where WPA shines. Armed with this valuable customer information, SuperZoo is well-known for
offering the most comprehensive array of market-ready
products, emerging lines, innovative technology, new
segments, proven best-sellers and unexpected finds that
will help you stand out from the competition and delight
It’s an exciting time to be in the pet products and services business. Follow these retail tips and get on the road
to a profitable year ahead. And don’t forget to mark your
calendar for SuperZoo 2019, Aug. 20-22, with education
sessions Aug. 19-21, where you’ll acquire the essential
tools and the business-boosting insight you need to succeed in the ever-changing world of pet retail.
Jacinthe Moreau is the president of World Pet Association
(WPA). Moreau has broad international experience in the
animal health industry. Her career trajectory, which includes
a variety of roles at companies such as Vetoquinol, Merial,
Merck, VetSource and VCA Animal Hospitals, prepared her
to lead WPA.
WPA TALKING POINTS
BY JACINTHE MOREAU