What retailers selling natural pet products can do to ensure the upcoming holiday season is a fruitful one.
The holiday season, if we’re lucky, is a fruitful time for retailers. Of course, we want to sell our products and services–those transactions must happen for our survival–but often enough, it is not so much what we sell but how we connect with customers that drives healthy sales during the holidays. There’s probably a good reason why the pet industry continues to do well, even in this economy, and I have come to believe a large factor lies in our ability to tap into something deeply personal with pet owners–that special bond between human and animal.
This seems to be very similar to the conviction that drives customers to adopt and cultivate a commitment to a natural lifestyle–a realization that we all share an obligation to protect and sustain our environment and our communities. Given choices, people are increasingly opting for products and services that support that personal commitment. That said, holiday promotions become especially powerful programs that help a retailer communicate with customers about issues and options that are meaningful, enduring and personally satisfying.
The first obvious concept to promote during the holidays is gift giving. A gift for a beloved pet–a toy made from an all-natural fabric, for example–very often touches a personal chord and lets the giver say how much they value the recipient.
Season of Feasting
Customers care about the health of their pets, just as they do their own health. And just as the holidays challenge us all to maintain a healthy diet, the same is true for pets. Table snacks sneaked under the chair by well-meaning guests and cookies that fall to the floor can quickly lead to a belly full of problems. Address these issues with in-store promotions and be prepared to offer suggestions about products and feeding guidelines that will help customers manage these issues.
If customers’ pets are likely to eat too much or will eat irregularly because of travel and visitors in the home, then you have an opportunity to cross-sell products such as low-fat foods and treats, digestive enzymes and other dietary supplements.
One of my favorite ideas to promote during the holidays is the concept of community service. It only takes one store to make a difference for worthwhile programs. Collaborate with area shelters, rescue groups, foster organizations, service and therapy animals and other groups to do something meaningful. Pick a program that makes sense and remember that the store probably has more to offer than you might realize. There is always counter space to collect donations for needy animals and there are always customers who want to contribute.
Holiday promotions also provide a wonderful opportunity to communicate with customers about values they hold dear–giving, sustainability, community service, healthful living, companionship and intimacy. You can serve customers and still preserve the store’s bottom line by initiating programs that promote meaningful concepts.
Remember to train the store’s staff to talk to people about their choices and to share their visions for holiday celebrations. Brainstorm with employees about how to communicate holiday themes through in-store displays, signage and customer-relations tools like e-blasts and newsletters.
Lastly, remember to stock up on merchandise and hire extra staff to get through the final weeks of the year. This, combined with smart promotions, will go a long way toward ensuring that the store enters the coming year with sustainable business that keeps growing.