THE RAW STORY
In marketing and merchandising frozen
raw dog food, retailers can endeavor to
tell a story by building the category and
presenting multiple brands that will speak
to the consumer in a clear, direct manner,
said Kyle Frautnick, marketing director for
Primal Pet Foods in Fairfield, Calif.
“Many retailers choose to merchan-
dise products in an entire made in the
USA section,” Frautnick said. “This helps
the customer find the products they are
Shopping local is high on the agenda
for shoppers at The Quirky Pet in Mont-
pelier, Vt., said owner Cindra Conison. For
this reason, Vermont Raw Pet Food, which
offers ground chubs of chicken and turkey,
has a loyal following.
“And, of course, made in the USA is
essential here,” she said.
Embracing the category also contributes to sales success.
“Our most successful retailers
practice what they preach,” said Justin
Magnuson, vice president of sales and
marketing for Raw Bistro Pet Fare in
Cannon Falls, Minn. “Retailers are on the
front line, and if they are familiar with the
product and feeding raw at home, they
can speak knowledgeably about how to
thaw it in the fridge, how easy it is to
portion and how their own dogs
respond. That’s what gets customers
intrigued and buying.”
Discussing mealtime options is anoth-
er strategy for encouraging customers to
try frozen raw dog food, Magnuson said.
For example, suggesting frozen raw as a
topper or for one meal per day could be
a viable alternative for those who don’t
want to go all in feeding raw.
Because frozen products cannot be
placed on an endcap or floor display,
retailers can attract customer attention with in-store signage, said Bette
Schubert, co-founder and senior vice
president of sales for Bravo Pet Foods
in Manchester, Conn.
Further, an upgrade from older, free-
standing freezers to glass-front units will
allow customers to easily browse
and quickly find the products they
“The newer freezers not only offer
increased storage capacity, but tell the
customer the store is serious about its
commitment to raw diets and healthful
pet foods,” Schubert said.
As of 2016, Woof Gang Bakery ensures that all new locations receive glass-front freezers to display raw products.
“This has been an integral step to
opening a dialogue about frozen raw
foods with our customers,” said
Samantha Cohen, vendor relations
manager and corporate buyer for the
Orlando, Fla.-based chain.
Sifting through available dog food options
is often overwhelming to pet owners, said
Bette Schubert, co-founder and senior vice
president of sales for Bravo Pet Foods in
“They may hear or read something
that piques their interest but need
knowledgeable, informed help in the
decision-making process,” she said.
“That assistance typically falls to the
retailer, who has day-to-day contact
with the consumer.”
A sales team able to discuss the
features and benefits of a raw product,
and distinguish between the various
brands and choices, will serve to build
customer trust and loyalty, Schubert
“When it comes to raw diets, educa-
tion is key,” said Samantha Cohen, vendor
relations manager and corporate buyer for
Woof Gang Bakery, a chain with headquar-
ters in Orlando, Fla. “All of our franchise
owners are able to discuss the nutritional
benefits of raw food, and describe how
it is safely packed and handled in the
high-pressure pasteurization process.”
Education and expertise are funda-
mental in addressing misconceptions
regarding feeding frozen raw.
“Not everybody is ready to do raw
food; there’s a lot of misunderstanding
and resistance,” said Julie Paez, co-owner
of The Big Bad Woof in Washington, D.C.
“Consumers fear salmonella, and I’ve even
heard, ‘It’s going to turn my dog into a wild
animal, and he’ll eat the cat.’ However,
acceptance can just be a matter of a pet
owner reaching a point where all avenues
have been exhausted and they are now
open to trying raw.”
For these reasons, a personal under-
standing of feeding a frozen raw diet can
help in assisting consumers with dietary
selections, Paez said.
“Approximately 60 percent of staffers
at The Big Bad Woof feed frozen raw to
their own pets, so they understand it,”
To forge a mastery of the pros and
cons of raw versus processed diets, staffers participate in training programs provided by various raw food manufacturers.
“This type of instruction is critical to
ensuring our staff is getting that block of
knowledge and information,” said Pennye
Jones-Napier, co-owner of The Big Bad
Woof. “Not just through the manufacturer,
but also through our staff meetings.”
Consumers are paying attention to
ingredients and, in turn, are looking for
retailers and associates who can speak
to what’s important to them, said Shelby
Wisniewski, director of integrated mar-
keting for Instinct Pet Food, a brand of St.
Louis-based Nature’s Variety.
“Asking the right questions and
offering the right information is important
when guiding pet parents to frozen raw,”
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Some retailers report adding more freezers to their stores
to keep up with demand for raw pet food.