The Brightest Stars
Retailers themselves are the stars that have the most sway with the pet owners who come into their stores—or at least they should be.
In an age when the pet industry is seeing an unprecedented number of famous faces connected with products—and even pets themselves are getting their 15 minutes of fame, thanks to the Internet—it is only natural for retailers to wonder which celebrity endorsement has the most potential to drive sales in their stores.
On the surface, this may seem like a complex question, but the answer is really quite simple: Retailers themselves are the stars that have the most sway with the pet owners who come into their stores—or at least they should be.
As you will read in this month’s cover story, there is a lot of buzz surrounding the many household names that have thrown their lot in with various pet brands. Whether it is with Jackson Galaxy or Kathy Ireland or Ellen Degeneres, these celebrity connections bring a certain amount of visibility and trustworthiness to the products being promoted, oftentimes to great effect. However, it would be a mistake for pet store owners and operators to sit back and let the recognizable names and faces on product packaging and advertisements do all the selling.
Instead, retailers should be positioning themselves as stars in their own right within their communities. Of course, building up the visibility and credibility necessary to achieve this status with local pet owners will require more than a little effort on several fronts.
Step one, of course, is carefully selecting a mix of products that effectively and safely deliver on whatever benefits they promise. Ideally, these items are chosen based on the retailer’s first-hand knowledge and experience and will reflect the store’s overall philosophy on pet care. Getting this right is crucial, as the store’s merchandise mix will ultimately decide the image that the business projects to pet owners and will be the cornerstone in building a reputation for being trustworthy.
Also vital to earning the trust of pet owners is being ready and willing to answer any questions that customers might have about a host of pet care issues, as well as the merchandise that can be found on the store’s shelves. This means not only obtaining a foundational education, but also staying on top of the latest research on animal husbandry and the newest product innovations and trends. And this constantly evolving knowledge base cannot be limited to the storeowner or manager—it must extend to every member of the staff that will interact with customers.
With the right product mix in place and armed with reliable information about pet care and products, retailers can then work on raising the visibility of their business. Traditional advertising channels can help in this regard; however, if the goal is to achieve stardom with the local pet-owning populace, nothing beats getting directly involved in the various issues and causes within the community. Hosting adoption events for shelters and rescue groups, raising funds for the local police force’s K-9 units and participating in the development of a dog park are just a few ways in which pet specialty retailers can put themselves at center stage.
Once in the spotlight, retailers will find that there is more than enough room to share with some of the celebrities that have aligned themselves with pet product brands. But remember, it is important that the stores should always shine brightest.