The Savvy Ways These 6 Pet Businesses Are Tapping Into the Luxury Market
Pet services, including grooming businesses, are catering to owners who expect high-end treatments and other frills.
In last month’s column, we previewed some of the biggest trends shaping the pet retail landscape, noting how the smart bet for retailers looking to survive the relentless onslaught of e-commerce giants like Amazon and Chewy as well as the proliferation of direct-to-consumer brands is to create a retail experience that simply can’t be replicated online. This means creating a truly superlative shopping experience for consumers by offering a highly curated selection of merchandise more akin to a boutique than traditional pet store—with the services to match.
Quite simply, retailers who successfully merge retail with grooming and other pet care services are finding themselves thriving in this era of the so-called “retail apocalypse.” This month, we’re going to unleash those numbers a bit and take a look at the grooming sector specifically.
A recent survey from TD Ameritrade of U.S. millennial pet owners indicated that they spend, on average, $1,285 each year on their dogs. The same survey also indicated that many would spend more on treatments for their pets than they would on themselves. We’ve discussed previously how millennials are already reshaping the pet industry up and down as the largest pet-owning demographic, representing 35 percent of all pet owners domestically. But the eye opener for retailers lies in the latest consumer trends. The pet as family member and the whole “fur baby” mindset adopted by a majority of today’s millennial pet owners means many are willing to use their discretionary income on their pets for products and services that are above and beyond food and veterinary care. Enter the luxury pet spa and the spoiled, pampered pet. Shrewd pet care professionals looking to capitalize on these shifts in mindset and spending should sit up and take note as business is booming.
Lisa Vanderpump, from the Bravo smash hit “Vanderpump Rules,” an operator and entrepreneur in her own right with successful restaurants and nightlife venues, has expanded her brand into pet care and grooming with the recent opening of Vanderpump Dogs, where the deluxe #Vanderpuff Treatment runs as high as $150. Services include a consultation with their in-house stylist, signature blueberry facial, brush and blow out, paw massage, hydro spa therapy, plus much more. A la carte services are also available for those less liquid; offerings include the “pawdicure” for $12.
The Bark Shoppe in New York offers a Wellness Treatment Package that includes a lavender bath, cannabidiol (CBD) oil treatment and full body massage for $20. In addition, it offers high-end dog walking services, grooming and boarding in the heart of New York’s Upper West Side. The store is also a successful retailer with a highly curated selection of accessories, food and apparel staffed by a beloved employee who seems to know every pet by their first name. If there is a model store that has successfully combined grooming and services with retail, it’s The Bark Shoppe.
Hotels are getting in on the fur rush as well, adding a number of pet centric services that go above and beyond anything you could imagine as people are traveling with their pets more frequently. Thank millennials. In absence of children, they want to bring their dogs and, more and more, their cats on vacation with them and are willing to spend the money to do so, with 53 percent saying that having their pet with them on vacation was a necessity. Thus, hotels are expanding their traditional offerings to include not just activities for children but for the dog and cat as well. At the ridiculous level is the Luxury Canine Package offered by the Rosewood London ($2,780 a night for two people plus pooch). There’s a stylish dog bed, collar, leash, and coat all designed by British heritage brand Barbour, plus a one-hour grooming session with celebrated dog groomer Jamie Griffen. Fresh organic dog food is prepared by request. More reasonable offerings from Kimpton Hotels and The Fairmont also welcome pets from dogs to pot-bellied pigs.
If for some reason there’s just no way your fur baby can accompany you on vacation, a new breed of high-end boarding facilities has arisen. Places like D Pet Hotels in Encino, Calif., cater to the more, say, anxious pet owner whose pet requires around the clock pampering when “mom” and “dad” are away. They offer boarding, day care, grooming, and even D-Chauffeur and D-Boutique services. For boarding, your dog can pick from a Standard Suite (4 feet by 9 feet, with a dog bed and TV tuned to Animal Planet), a Sensational Suite (12 feet by 12 feet, with a twin bed and 32-in. TV) or Uber Suite (12 feet by 22 feet, with a queen bed and 42-in. TV). The D-Chauffeur will pick up your pets for their stay either in a regular vehicle or in a Ferrari, Lamborghini Gallardo, Bentley, Porsche or Rolls-Royce. And to complete the cycle of commerce, D-Boutique offers food, treats, reversible raincoats and aromatherapy candles. The facility has a 5,000-square-foot dog park for supervised play, and someone on staff is there 24 hours a day. This truly is the gold standard for doggie day care and long-term boarding. Retailers should take special notice of D Pet Hotel’s full-service model, which is more and more in demand as millennial pet owners indicated that they’re likely to feel separation anxiety if away from their pets for more than an hour.
In Sioux Falls, S.D., Paws Pet Resort opened on Valentine’s Day of 2019 to great fanfare and success. It offers 10 “VIP” dog boarding suites for $54 a day complete with a nice bed, chandelier, treat dispenser, TV and pet camera. Smoken Dakota Kennels opened way back in 2007 in Sioux Falls with just five rooms, which quickly expanded to 26. Ten years later, it opened the 71-room Resort by SDK, a luxury pet destination for both day care and short-term stays. Furry visitors can take advantage of amenities like freshly baked biscuits, heated floors and bedtime stories. Not to be outdone by its big-city counterparts, SDK is adding a spa experience that includes exfoliating mud baths. Next year, a certified canine massage therapist will be available on site to provide therapeutic and relaxation options for dogs.
How you incorporate this information is up to you. It’s a pet’s world now—we just live in it!