Building a Better World
Worldwise is proving that it is possible to offer retailers and consumers a well-rounded lineup of quality, affordable pet products while staying committed to eco-friendly practices.
Can officials at Worldwise pull it off? Can they convince consumers and their retail partners that their products offer quality and affordability while still being environmentally responsible?
Kevin Fick, the company’s CEO/president since 2012, thinks it can while, at the same time, bringing in more sales and profits for the San Rafael, Calif.-based company and its many retail partners.
The industry seems to agree. A number of retail pet analysts and retailers themselves say that Worldwise is gaining market share at the expense of some well-known companies in certain segments of the pet category by stressing a combination of unique products and a commitment to be as environmentally friendly as possible.
Like many companies, Worldwise’s strategy and product mix has been an evolution.Formed in 1990 to market environmentally friendly products in the garden category, the company got involved with the pet world several years later, with a commitment to producing products with the lowest amount of post-production waste and with as many recycled materials as possible. Today, its Petlinks System brand has become a major player in pet specialty.
But, just to be certain that the company and its products are in the right place, Fick and his team have launched a five-year plan to update and revitalize Worldwise’s brands. In pet specialty, that strategy means a re-launch of Petlinks, a line of about 500 dog and cat SKUs with products in the toy segment, as well as the pet bedding and cat-scratcher markets.
“We have updated the look and the feel of the line to be warmer and more inviting to the consumer,” Fick says. “We made the name more dominant on the packaging, and we simplified the message on the product for consumers. We also put 100-percent-guarantee and safe-for-pets logos on the packaging to make sure consumers know where we stand and where they stand with our products.”
Of course, the five-year plan is about more than just cosmetic changes to the company’s packaging. Worldwise is employing animal behaviorists to help it create the right mix of products for consumers and their pets. “We want to find out what are the needs of dogs and cats, and then make sure that we get those products to the market,” Fick says. “So we go to market with a total program and strategy and a total program solution.”
He adds that Worldwise can design programs for individual retailers spanning anywhere from four feet to 16 feet. “We can work with retailers to give them exactly what they want from our brand,” he says. “We have a product assortment that is successful and offers retailers a very strong point-of-sale dollar return per linear foot. In the end, it is all about the performance of the product, and it is our job to educate consumers that we offer a wide range of product that will fit their needs, including toys, scratching products and furniture.”
Innovating Pet Care
To keep the momentum going and hoping to tap into a lucrative slice of the pet marketplace, Worldwise introduced the kathy ireland Loved Ones collection for pet specialty retailers and higher-end department stores at Global Pet Expo in Orlando in March. The line offers about 350 SKUs in such segments as bedding, leashes/collars, water/feeding, travel and toys.
“This is the first collection of any kind that marries functional pet products with the home décor of households,” Fick says, noting that Kathy Ireland, a former supermodel, has a long history of designing and licensing home furnishing products. “Our hope is that retailers will devote a large section to these products and make a cohesive statement with consumers and they will end up buying multiple items from this line. It is a win-win for retailers and us, and the consumer will walk out with a higher-end product that fits their needs as well.”
Fick makes it clear that he wants to help pet retailers build sales through innovation. “Many pet specialty retailers are the best vehicles for that,” he says. “They are very eager to accept new innovation and new products, as long as they help to build sales and customer loyalty. They will stock the products and help us display them in the best possible location. And, they have the staff available to educate consumers about these products.”