Robert Miavitz, president and owner of Jolly Pets, discusses trends in the dog toy category and how the company can help retailers increase sales.
Pet Business: What makes Jolly Pets stand out from other dog toy manufacturers?
Robert Miavitz: Here at Jolly Pets, we have long been a supplier of durable dog toys for the large dog breeds. We continue to seek new and innovative ways to develop superior products for animal companions. Our vision is not just to make a toy; it’s to make a quality toy that will enrich pets’ lives. We do this by putting every product we develop through a four-week test focus group of 50 to 100 dogs of all breeds, weights and temperaments. We take the information we receive and improve the product until we have it just right. We also take this as a time to connect with our customers and hear what they want out of a toy.
We have tried to stay top-of-mind by putting a strong focus on our [consumer] marketing efforts, which naturally led to developing a new, innovative website. We were seeking to provide an interactive and educational experience for the growing trend of consumers looking to the web for information. Our goal was to design a website that was simple to navigate and where product information was easily accessible all while giving users the best possible encounter with our brand.
PB: What are some of the latest and most exciting products from Jolly Pets? What are the selling points of these products?
Miavitz: We’re always expanding our range offerings, but our newest and most exciting line is our new Jolly Tuff range. This toy line is unlike any others and is made with our own special blend of rubber that allows us to guarantee the range for the most aggressive chewers. We’re very proud that we can extend a replacement guarantee to those masters of destruction that chew through everything.
The most challenging behavioral issue that dogs suffer from is separation anxiety. The greatest benefit of the Jolly Tuff range is that these toys can be stuffed with treats and given to dogs that have anxiety, to keep their minds busy and occupied while their owners are away. By doing this, you’re redirecting their fear onto something more positive. This is why it was so important to us to create our own special blend of ‘tuff’ rubber.
PB: What are the latest trends in the dog toy category? What are pet owners looking for in the dog toys they purchase? How does Jolly Pets respond to these trends?
Miavitz: Trends in the dog toy category are always changing—one day plush snuggle toys are on trend, and the next it’s an interactive fetch toy. Right now, we’re seeing a lot of ballistic nylon and multi-functional toys that combine a series of features—all of which we have in the Jolly Pets range. I feel the buyers today want quality and a brand they can trust.
[Pet owners] are looking for a quality product that can satisfy their dog’s desire whether it is a soft-mouth playful dog or an aggressive chewer. We are constantly working to satisfy all desires of all dog breeds.
As a company, our goal is to set and stay ahead of the trend for the dog toy category. We’ve always been the innovative thinkers who bring toys to market that have never been seen before.
PB: How can retailers increase their sales of dog toys? Are there any common mistakes retailers make that keep them from realizing the full potential of this category making? How can they overcome or avoid such mistakes?
Miavitz: I think it is important for stores to offer a variety of lines. I also feel the consumer is always looking for something new, so in-and-out items are always a great way for a retailer to increase sales and still maintain the staple items in their store.
One of the most common mistakes we see is with merchandising. Often, display strategies are overlooked or not considered. A display should have a clear message or story for the customer, so planning is extremely important. Customers should be able to understand the concept behind the display.
As a company, we make active efforts to help solve this for our retailers. We have developed a series of merchandising options that take the guesswork out of displaying our range. We have also have field reps that will assist with new store sets and educate the staff.
PB: Tell us about Jolly Pets’ donation program. How does it work? Do you have any benchmarks you can share about the program’s impact?
Miavitz: We try to support as many organizations as possible. Some of the causes we contribute to are rescues, shelters and police/military K-9 organizations. One of our favorite donations was when we supplied Jolly Balls to a number of shelters across the county for all of their dogs for Christmas. Seeing how just one of our toys can give a dog so much joy is why we do what we do. We have this huge platform, and we plan on doing some great things with it, so stay tuned.
PB: Tell us about the Pittie2020 campaign on social media. What inspired Jolly Pets to get involved in this cause? What does the campaign involve?
Miavitz: We’ve partnered with Project Blue Collar on several occasions in the past, and when they reached out to us about an initiative to change the way the public views Pit Bulls, it was a no-brainer for us, since some of our biggest brand ambassadors are Pit Bulls.
#Pittie2020 is a social media photo campaign collecting and featuring pictures of Pit Bulls wearing glasses. Using the term “20/20”—the universally understood term for perfect vision—we want to ‘clear the vision’ and change the way people look at them. We want to encourage people to show pit bulls in happy, goofy ways because we feel that humor and levity can open people to learning more about this often-misunderstood breed.