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Marketing for Our Favorite Furry Family Member

April 10, 2020
By Reagan Bennett

Cute pic of kitten or puppy; healthy dog running through a field = pet brand marketing campaign sewn up. Right? Wrong. Marketing to pet lovers can be a complex landscape to navigate. Valued at $225 billion, the United States pet care industry is highly saturated, highly competitive and as any pet owner will tell you, highly emotive. The stakes are high. And while pet owners are bonded by their animal attraction, the relationship they have with their pets and their appetite for interaction with pet care brands varies wildly.

Pet lovers don’t fall into one big bucket – they come from varying generations, genders and demographics. They run the gamut in terms of backgrounds and interests, so don’t assume that a one size fits all approach will work. That being said, they need to know that a brand cares just as much as they do about their favorite furry friend(s). Here are a few tips for navigating the pet lover audience:

  • Pets aren’t just pets anymore, they’re family members: Gone are the days of Fido living in the backyard and forgotten about all day. Many of today’s pet lovers consider their animals to be family members. In fact, millennial pet owners are so attached to their pets that 71% would take a pay cut if it meant they could bring their pet(s) to work every day. This mindset should shape the tone, content and direction of every campaign marketed toward pet-lovers.
  • Authenticity is mandatory: Pet lovers will quickly criticize any marketing that comes across as irreverent or too sales-y; they take their pet-loving very seriously and expect brands to do the same. Pet owners want to know that brands are truly offering what’s best for their animals, putting an extra emphasis on care.
  • Lean into the cuteness – but don’t rely on it: It should come as no surprise that photos and videos of animals are beloved by consumers. Weaving a visual element into your pet lover campaign to help boost awareness and engagement will work well, but make sure you add value, not just the ‘ahh’ factor.
  • Feel-good stories for the greater good: Pet lovers tend to care about the greater good of all animals, not just their own pets. Sharing stories that highlight the veterinary industry, animal shelters and fellow pet owners assisting animals tend to be appreciated by this audience, who are hopeful for any positive movement when it comes to animal welfare, care and love.
  • Avoid joining an already over-saturated moment: Holidays such as National Pet Day or National Dog Day tend to be over-saturated with brand campaigns. To find a voice in these times, consider whether the brand has something valuable to add to the conversation and find a white space to appropriately fill.

All of this to say, pets have a new role in people’s lives, as their work from home and social distancing companions. Whether they are the stars of a video conference call or an excuse for a pet lover to step outside, their new role during these trying times should be certainly acknowledged.