THE WORLD PET
Tell us a little about WPA. What does the organization do, and what is its role in the pet
Doug Poindexter: Founded in 1950, World Pet Association (WPA) is the pet industry’s oldest nonprofit organization. Based in Southern California, WPA coordinates
industry-defining trade shows—SuperZoo and Atlanta Pet Fair & Conference—to
promote responsible growth and development of the pet industry. Other popular
annual events include America’s Family Pet Expo, a consumer pet and pet product expo, and Aquatic Experience, which combines consumer events with a trade
show. Through WPA’s Good Works program, proceeds from these events are
funneled back in to key industry organizations and nonprofits supporting the pet
community, making it easier for pet industry professionals to do business. WPA
provides thought leadership on consumer and legislative issues for the good of professionals, as well as the industry as a whole, and it leads efforts in the public sector
to inform consumers and ensure safe, healthy lifestyles for all animals.
How would you summarize on the state of the overall pet industry midway through 2017?
Poindexter: The pet industry in 2017 is experiencing a lot of change. We’ve had a
few years of explosive growth, and the [U.S. pet] industry has now grown to more
than $66 billion. However, with this growth comes more competition. We’ve seen
consolidation and competitive pricing from online retailers along with changing
trends in consumer behavior that shape how pet professionals do business. Now
more than ever, it’s important that we band together as an industry to learn from
each other and foster a community of support to continue to grow as an industry
and prosper individually.
What do you see as the most significant developments to have happened in the pet industry
in the past year or two?
Poindexter: I believe the controversies on a national, state and local level surrounding what kind of animal someone may add to their household are a real danger
to a consumer’s right to have a pet. We, as an industry, need to continue to fight
for the consumer’s right to choose the animal with whom they wish to share their
life. We must also make sure that there is a supply of animals that are raised in
humane, responsible ways to ensure we have quality pets available for the consumer, whether they are adopting or purchasing a pet from pet stores, breeders
or their neighbors. Programs like Canine Care Certified (caninecarecertified.org)
for dog breeding and other programs underway for small animals are critically
important to making sure both the parents and offspring of these animals are
healthy, happy, well-socialized pets to bring the joy we know animals bring to
all of our lives.
We certainly seem to be sensing a trend toward a strengthened commitment to pet specialty
and the preservation of specialty-dedicated brands on the part of manufacturers. Is this something you’ve noticed? If so, what does this indicate or portend for the industry?
Poindexter: The “craft” movement is impacting the entire retail industry—not just the
pet product market. We see it in craft beer, coffee, even chocolate! We see consumers trending toward wanting a better understanding of where the products they’re
buying came from and where and how they are made. They want to feel connected
to their products, to understand the community they come from and be a part of
that community themselves. For the pet industry, this means that retailers and their
staff need to be knowledgeable about the products they’re selling. What ingredients
are in the food products you sell? What are the toys made out of? Where were
As he marks 27 years at the helm of one of the leading pet trade organizations, outgoing WPA
president Doug Poindexter reveals his thoughts on the state of the industry, its future, and
the association’s goals and contributions.
SPOTLIGHT ON WPA
A Perspective Honed
Now more than ever,
it’s important that
we band together as
—Doug Poindexter ]
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