Pet brands across the world are gearing up for this year’s Global Pet Expo, the industry’s largest annual trade show. To get their products noticed, participating brands have to develop careful strategies that educate pet shop retailers and customers about the qualities that make their premium pet food and products better than the rest. In an age where consumers seek out foodstuffs that are made with wholesome, natural, and gourmet ingredients, it’s imperative that companies succeed in informing customers how their goods can assist in making their lives better. Including high-end ingredients and packaging often requires a higher price point, and the challenge for today’s brands is convincing shoppers that their items are worth the cost.
Gary Jacobs, a longtime pet industry veteran, joins host David Marinac on Ditch The Box to share his insider tips on running a premium pet food company and building a loyal following of repeat customers.
His number one piece of advice for any brand in the pet market is to focus on the quality of the functionality of the product first. Some companies think the key to winning customers lies solely in clever marketing tactics, but the product has to perform up to par or people will dismiss it. You may fool somebody once, he says, but once they catch on they’ll devote their loyalty – and money – to brands selling premium products that actually work. “There’s lots of great products on the market,” he explains. “You have to differentiate yourself from there.”
When Jacobs founded Scoochie Pet Products, he made a point to boost repeat sales and build a brand based on great products and customer loyalty. Companies like Scoochie have to work to convince shoppers to buy their product the first time, impress them with its flavor, appearance, quality, and functionality, then people will begin actively seeking out labels with that brand’s logo and graphics because they associate the company with great items. People are willing to pay more for products from Scoochie, he says, because they’re willing to shell out the money required to keep their animals happy. When times are tough, people want to take better care of their pets. Consumers truly view their cats and dogs as family members, and they seek out pet industry products that make it easier for them to serve their furry friends specialty diets that keep them healthy.
The pet industry has evolved quickly over the last five years, Jacobs explains, and the brands that have succeeded make an effort to follow trends in the market. Sometimes companies can create a new trend, but other times they have to run with existing trends and work to keep up with and stay ahead of them. Natural products are one of the most influential trends in the industry today, which Jacobs says helped Scoochie rethink its product line and incorporate more healthful ingredients. Recalls from overseas have also influenced the market – the rawhide business dropped approximately 80 percent, forcing brands to eliminate or change up the types of animal products they’re selling to dog owners. Quality products, along with a solid interest and investment in sales, has helped brands successfully connect with customers and convince them to purchase healthier products that are better for their pets.
On the program, Jacobs discusses his history training 13 race horses in Kentucky and how it helped him build connections with people who love animals. His background being immersed in farm life has given him a unique understanding of animals and the type of products and care they require. Race horses are big business, he says, and he learned many lessons along the way that launched him into a career in the pet products industry. From pet toys to dog and cat food, Jacobs has a wealth of knowledge and 30 years of experience delivering quality items to the pet industry and pet owners around the world.