Acts of Conscience in the Pet Space
Cause marketing is making a direct impact on pet owners’ selection of retailers and brands.
The pet industry embraces with open arms the practice of aligning its brands and services with pet welfare initiatives, a strategy otherwise known as cause marketing, and for good reason. Pet adoptions, shelter support, animal rescue, health services and so on are essential in maintaining and growing the pet population, while providing the added benefits of building goodwill among pet owners and presenting an image of corporate responsibility. Cause marketing also is a cost-effective way to bolster brand awareness using nontraditional media, making it possible for pet industry players at all levels to do the right thing.
Not surprisingly, deep-pocketed marketers are among the biggest contributors. Nestlé Purina invests close to $20 million annually in pet welfare, benefiting more than 2 million pets through thousands of organizations. Taking to social media in November 2015, the company promised to donate one dollar (up to $75,000) to the AKC Canine Health Foundation to support pet health research each time a dog owner uses the hashtag #dogthanking and @Purina on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
More than 400,000 dogs and cats find homes each year through PetSmart’s adoption program, and in fall 2015 the retailer launched Good Natured dog and cat food, vowing to donate a meal to a needy pet for every bag purchased.
Efforts such as these tug at the heartstrings by tapping into the all-important human-animal bond: 79 percent of dog owners and 77 percent of cat owners consider their pets part of the family, according to Packaged Facts’ February/March 2016 National Pet Owner Survey.
Pet welfare initiatives also pay real dividends. In the same survey, nearly 44 percent of consumers choose their pet product retailers based on the retailers’ involvement in pet welfare and rescue causes and events, with the same percentage applying the same standards to the pet brands they buy, and these figures are on the upswing—from 33 percent in 2014.
Further demonstrating consumers’ high level of interest, one-third of dog and cat owners contribute to pet welfare and rescue causes themselves. It’s rare that any form of marketing aligns so directly and wholesomely with the core interests of a given industry. For the pet industry, however, it’s a win-win, with marketers and retailers willing to pay it forward, simultaneously helping to grow the population of happier, healthier pets that is the lifeblood of their business.
David Lummis is the lead pet-market analyst for Packaged Facts, a division of MarketResearch.com. He reviewed Packaged Facts’ new report referenced in this column, U.S. Pet Market Outlook, 2016-2017 (April 2016). For more information about Packaged Facts and its pet products and services market reports, visit www.packagedfacts.com/pet-products-services-c124/.
This article originally appeared in the June 2016 issue of Pet Product News.