A True Lifestyle Brand
Lisa Hisamune, director of sales at P.L.A.Y. (Pet Lifestyle and You), explains why the company’s attention to quality, function, style and social and environmental stewardship helps create products that perfectly fit the lives of pet owners.
Over the years, P.L.A.Y. (Pet Lifestyle and You) has built a clear and well-recognized brand identity. Tell us about your approach to brand building. What are some of the key tenets of your brand? To what do you attribute your success in conveying these principles, along with your unique sense of style, to retailers and pet owners? For us, brand building is not an exercise or a campaign, but an ongoing part of what we do every day because our actions are driven by the values that we believe in. It’s about staying true to your principles and let them guide your decision making in everything you do.
We believe we can bring style, innovation/creativity and quality to the bedding and toy categories while becoming an impactful leader in both environmental and social aspects. It may sound simple, but the reality is anything but. We dedicate a lot of effort to understanding what our target customers are looking for, and often go the extra mile not just with product development, but with many other pieces that make the user experience with P.L.A.Y. a uniquely rewarding brand experience. From adopting 100 percent renewable energy practices to using certified recycled or sustainable materials, our team considers doing the right thing a part of our DNA and believes that a good number of our customers care about that as well. Ultimately, we want our customers to be more than just happy with our products; we want them to be proud that they are doing their part to help make our world a better place.
Brand building is as much about building trust among your customers as telling your story about who you are and what your products are about. And delivering that experience goes beyond just the product. It involves every possible touch point a customer may have with your brand. As such, a company is much more likely to be consistent with their branding if the same values permeate throughout the organization. Instead of a silo culture, we have a lot of cross-functional meetings and projects within the company, and therefore we have a strong cohesion in our strategy and execution. That is one of the main drivers behind P.L.A.Y.’s success in terms of brand building.
What are some of your most popular tried-and-true product lines? Why do these products appeal to pet owners? Both our plush and interactive toy lines are hugely popular among consumers. We are now launching innovative toy collections at every major trade show, and the reception for our new toys is always phenomenal. Many pet parents are looking for fun toys to keep their pets stimulated, and our toys stand out in the market because we pack the most value within them. There are many toy manufacturers in the market, but we are striving to be the leader in the affordable luxury segment where design, features, price, durability and environmental sensibility are all important.
Our best sellers in bedding are products that are actually conventional, such as our Lounge Beds and Chill Pads. I believe they are popular with customers for several reasons. Firstly, they are functional, tried-and-tested products that serve a need—dogs sleep up to 14 hours a day, so giving them a safe, comfortable place to snooze is something most pet parents look for. Also, more people are traveling with their pets so our ultra-soft, lightweight and easily washable Chill Pads appeal to our customers.
Secondly, our customers are always impressed with our quality and attention to details. From fabric selections to the craftsmanship of our seasoned seamstresses, we stay true to our quality promise and never cut corners, and the result is a product that stands out once you look closer or have experience using it.
Finally, besides comfort, safety and durability, our beds and toys appeal to many pet owners because of what we do for environmental and social causes. As one of the very few B Corporations in the pet industry, we have many ongoing initiatives that give back and help the two main things that we care about—the environment and the rescue community. For example, through our Warm Bellies Initiative, supported by our long-standing partnership with the Petfinder Foundation, we give a Chill Pad for every bed purchased on our website and we are proud that we have helped hundreds of shelters around the country to give rescue animals a better place to rest while they wait for their forever homes.
Earlier this year, P.L.A.Y. introduced two new toy lines—the Willow’s Mythical Plush Toy Collection and the Back to School Toy Collection. What inspired these collections? What makes them stand out in a crowded toy aisle? Plush toys are such an important category to keep fresh, so we’re always working on new collections and adding innovative twists. We understand that when it comes to plush toys, shoppers have many choices these days, so we work hard to make our plush toys stand out against the pack with better designs, more durability and innovative features.
It may sound cliché, but we get a majority of our inspiration from our own office dogs! In fact, our whimsical Willow’s Mythical Plush Toy Collection was named after our elusive and talented office dog, Willow. Like her, this collection will add a touch of charm to your shop with its five enchanting creatures, and it is packed full of surprises to keep every dog on her toes during playtime. These fairy-tale companions are available in a 15-piece toy set with free Castle POP Display, making it easy for merchandising. Pet parents won’t be able to get enough of their endless squeaks, crinkles, crunches and giggles for hours of playtime fun!
In addition to these magical creatures, we’ve launched our Back to School Plush Toy Collection for scholarly canines—now it’s easier than ever to be teacher’s pet! Available in a 15-piece set with free School Bus POP display, this set includes a Calculator, Football, Artist Palette, Beakers, and Graduation Cap and Diploma. Customers will love watching their dogs discover the hidden crinkles, never-before-heard squeaks and cool, glow-in-the-dark features in this collection.
In line with our other plush toy collections, these toys are eco-friendly, washable and they’re also camera friendly! Our plush toys feature soft fabric in vibrant colors that really stand out during playtime photo shoots, as well as pop on the shelves.
P.L.A.Y. also recently expanded its Scout & About Outdoor Collection. What are the latest additions to this line? How do they fit the overall concept behind Scout & About? As pet parents ourselves, we know that keeping our dogs active is key when it comes to their happiness, so we always knew we wanted to expanded our Scout & About Outdoor Collection and are excited to have some new durable, interactive fetch and tug toys just in time for summer.
One of our newest toys in this category is our Honeycomb Rope Toy, a uniquely woven design that really shows a different and innovative style of rope toy that allows the customer to stick their dog’s favorite treats in-between the knots for added fun and interactivity. Tug play is also a popular activity amongst dogs and humans. Rope toys are perfect for this type of play, and our new Tug Ball Rope Toys are perfect to engage your pup in some playful tug-of-war. Plus, it’s great for pups to play with each other as well.
We’ve also recently introduced our new Nova toys to the Scout & About Outdoor line. These toys are made using our durable and buoyant new NovaFlex material. This collection includes the Nova Stick and the Nova Ball. The Nova Stick comes in two sizes, and the inner core creates an engaging crunchy sound to encourage play. It’s lightweight and easy to keep clean. The Nova Ball has a textured surface and provides an opening to insert treats to keep pups busy and working hard to get a snack out between rounds of fetch.
As pets continue to be viewed more as a part of the family, they will be invited to join in all sorts of activities outside of the house. Therefore, we will continue to focus on bringing more innovative outdoor toys to our Scout & About line that are durable, encourage interactive play, intermix surprising materials and can take being dragged through the dirt (since all of our rope toys are washer and dryer friendly).
Has P.L.A.Y. launched any other new products or collections recently? What are the key features of these products? Yes, we recently introduced a creative display for our popular Holiday Classic Plush Toy Collection. They now come in 15-piece toy sets packaged in a Santa’s Sleigh, which is really fun and eye-catching. This makes it easy for retailers who don’t have a lot of space to display these toys in a fun and creative way on a counter top or shelf and easily build holiday-themed sections within their shops.
In addition, we are creating more holiday or winter editions of our popular products. We recently introduced a special Poinsettia edition of our award-winning Wobble Ball 2.0. This festive version features the same interactive design and is the puzzle toy that keeps giving all year round as it rolls around unpredictably dispensing treats, while stimulating your pet mentally and physically.
Make sure to stop by our SuperZoo booth (#1820), as we are launching two new colorways of our Snuggle Bed line, which is a versatile four-in-one bed ideal for cold weather. We are also adding some exciting new bed designs to our popular Lounge and Memory Foam Bedding Collections. PB