When stay-at-home orders went into effect, the pet industry spiked from an influx of new customers. Shelters across America were flooded with adoption and foster applications. It was the perfect opportunity to bring a new animal home because you could take the time to be with them. A survey by Rover.com found that 93 percent of participants said their “pandemic pet” improved their mental or physical well-being in 2020, and over 80 percent said it made working from home more enjoyable. Bloomberg even named it the Pandemic Puppy Boom.
Adoptions weren't the only boom in the pet industry as pet brands, especially food and treat, saw a significant increase in sales. According to MediaRadar’s analysis of pet brands’ advertising, their spending increased by 51% year over year (January 1, 2020 -May 23, 2020) across TV, digital, print, and newspapers. While other industries have stopped or decreased sales, the pet industry is booming.
The flood of new and returning customers in the market means a valuable opportunity opened for marketers in the pet industry in the wake of the Pandemic Puppy Boom. Now is an ideal time to revisit brand marketing funnels and messaging.
Digital marketing is especially important as people are spending more time online. The average time spent on social media in the U.S. in 2020 was 65 minutes a day, a significant increase from previous years.
To make the most of this opportunity, here are some digital marketing tactics to consider implementing into your business:
1. Email Marketing
Create personalized email journeys for new pet parents. Start by gathering relevant information about your target audience. This data can be taken from new email subscribers or first-time purchases. Ask thoughtful questions such as the type of animals they have, how old their pet is, and what kind of lifestyle they lead. Use the answers to craft personalized customer journeys for each stage of the pet’s life cycle and bring relevance to their inboxes.
2. Social Media Campaigns
Use Instagram and other key social platforms to drive brand awareness. Create sequential ads that span a specific period of time to guide pet parents on their new journey. For example, ads about kitten food needs can re-target the same audience in eight months when they begin to switch to cat food.
3. E commerce
Set up functionality for recurring orders on the items pet parents need most–food and treats. For other pet categories, such as toys and leashes, create informational sections of the product page that correspond to each life stage and aid purchasing decisions.
Also, consider live-stream eCommerce events that increase sales and brand visibility in a short amount of time.
4. Update Your Website
Update key website pages to mirror the consumer's “new norm”. Consider highlighting the best at-home products on the brand’s homepage or updating imagery to showcase life in COVID-19, such as working from home or social distancing at the dog park. These messaging changes will add value to new and returning customers' lives by providing helpful information to make a purchase and feel an emotional connection to your brand that benefits themselves and their pet.
The pet industry is certainly booming during the pandemic, which makes it the perfect time to connect with new customers. Take a moment to review the marketing mix and evaluate:
Is the current messaging clear for new pet owners during the pandemic?
Would providing more educational information drive sales?
Should the brand test Instagram ads?
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This post was originally published in August 2020 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness. Edited: September 2022