Good Signs from Global
For three days in March, Global Pet Expo may have supplanted Disney World as the happiest place on earth, or at least in Orlando, Fla.
There was a palpable sense of optimism among attendees and exhibitors alike across the four miles worth of pet product exhibits. The pet industry has enjoyed something of a golden age over the past decade, and indications are that the category’s good fortunes will not be changing anytime soon. This is largely due to the fact that the industry continues to evolve, with manufacturers constantly raising the bar on product innovation and refining their approach to capturing the imaginations of pet owners.
That advancement was clearly on display at this year’s Global Pet Expo, and some of highlights of the show that illustrated this trend perfectly included:
Taking a cue from the home furnishings and housewares industry, where celebrity-designed collections are trending, pet product manufacturer Worldwise announced a partnership with model-turned-fashion-entrepreneur Kathy Ireland to create a multi-dimensional line of pet products under the kathy ireland Loved Ones brand. The line spans categories such as bedding, toys, leashes/collars and travel products, and reflects the unique fashion sense that has made the kathy ireland Worldwide label a hot commodity in home décor.
Kathy Ireland was not the only one making the crossover from home goods into pet. Carpenter Co., a 65-year-old company in the mattress and furnishings industry, made its first appearance at Global Pet Exp this year. Under the Carpenter Pet Bedding brand, the company used its expertise on the “science of sleep” to introduce self-cooling beds that use the same ventilated memory foam that has been helping people rest better for years.
As you will read in this month’s “Spotlight” feature, pet food manufacturer Nulo is making a renewed push into the independent pet specialty channel. The company showcased an impressive lineup of products formulated specifically for independents. However, just as impressive was its latest branding strategy, which involves partnering with Olympic athletes to promote the concept of health- and performance-based pet nutrition. Discussing how these athletes directly equate their own nutritional needs with their pets’ is a departure from the way pet food has been sold in the past, and the strategy has won the company more than a few admirers among pet specialty retailers.
Finally, it was not just manufacturers that demonstrated how far the pet trade has come. Top-flight retailers from across the country were honored at the show with the third-annual Retailer Excellence Awards (REA) ceremony, with Four Your Paws Only, Cherrybrook Premium Pet Supplies and Woof Gang Bakery taking the top honors. Visit petbusiness.com or read next month’s print issue for a full list of award winners, and look for our Retailer Excellence Series in the pages of future Pet Business issues, where we will provide in-depth profiles of all the REA winners.
All in all, Global Pet Expo proved to be a great platform for the pet industry to put its best foot forward, on every level.