Welcome to “The Greatest Show on Earth”
With a competitive climate that is heating up and a customer base that is becoming more educated every day, it is a good thing that Global Pet Expo offers ample opportunities to drive success for retailers and vendors alike.
As retail buyers bustle onto the exhibition floor here at Global Pet Expo 2016, they are sure to see the pet industry’s phenomenal success reflected in this record-breaking edition of the show.
Fueled by a pet care market that is estimated to have surpassed the $60-billion mark in 2015, according to the American Pet Products Association (APPA), this year’s Global Pet Expo has assembled more than 1,100 companies from around the world to showcase their products to an expected 7,000-plus retail buyers across 3,200 booths occupying about 320,000 square feet of space.
With a turnout like that, it is no wonder that Trade Show Executive magazine recently named Global Pet Expo “The Greatest Show on Earth.”
While this honor is an acknowledgement of how Global Pet Expo stacks up against other trade shows across numerous industries, it also recognizes the important role that the show plays in the success of the pet care market’s vendors and retailers.
“Global Pet Expo is the biggest pet tradeshow of the year,” says Steven Shweky, president and CEO at Fetch…For Pets!, based in New York (booth 2901). “This is the biggest opportunity to network, build new partnerships and develop new business.”
Of course, Shweky is not alone in ascribing such value to what many in the industry consider the most important trade show on the pet industry calendar.
“Global Pet Expo is vital to the pet industry and the strength of the independent pet specialty stores,” notes Rick Rockhill, executive vice president of Thousand Oaks, Calif.-based Lucy Pet Products (booth 5558). “For Lucy Pet Products, Global Pet Expo is the perfect environment to have quality conversations with people who genuinely care about the strength of our industry.”
That strength, according to many industry officials, lies in catering to a customer base that has increasingly adopted the mindset that pets are valued members of the family unit.
“There are several factors that are driving growth, but one that we all at PetRageous Designs can relate to is that pets are truly part of the family,” says Gretchen George, president of the Burlington, Mass.-based company (booth 1219). “Pet owners are integrating their pet’s dining, exercise and entertainment into their lives, creating more demand for products associated with this level of involvement.”
At this year’s Global Pet Expo, PetRageous is introducing a wide range of products designed specifically to cater to today’s discerning consumers by making it easier than ever to integrate pets into the household. Included in the products that the company will debut this year are unique cat scratcher designs, “adorable” cat caves, a line of interactive toys for dogs and cats, and fresh collections of stoneware bowls, coordinating mugs and stainless feeders.
“What sets all of these products apart is our fashion-forward approach to their design,” says George. “All of the new products we’ll be introducing this year coordinate remarkably well with modern home décor.”
As today’s consumers place more importance on the value of pets as members of the family, they are also becoming much more educated about the products they are providing for their furred, finned and feathered friends.
“Pet parents are so much more informed,” points out Jim Glassford, marketing director for Mequon, Wis.-based Fromm Family Foods (booth 801). “They are savvy and sincere and are looking to pet food manufacturers to create quality, premium diets for their very valued four-legged family members.
“Informed owners are looking to brands to continue producing unique recipes, grain-free diets, specialty diets and more to accommodate the varied needs of their animals.”
With this in mind, Fromm is showcasing two of its latest diets, Hasen Duckenpfeffer for Dogs and Hasen Duckenpfeffer for cats, which are produced under the company’s Four-Star Nutritionals label. Inspired by traditional German rabbit stew, they feature rabbit and duck together with potatoes, carrots and celery.
Rashell Cooper, marketing director for Redbarn Pet Products (booth 2367), also sees consumer education as a key driver in the pet food category. “We see pet parents becoming increasingly educated and making more informed decisions about what ingredients they choose for their pets,” he says, noting that the Made in the USA, natural and grain-free trends are most appealing to today’s pet owners. “We listened to our customers say they wanted more choice with their natural pet food options, so we developed our new grain-free Canned Patè and Stews with added functional ingredients to support individual pet health needs.”
According to Rockhill, Millennials are proving to be particularly discerning, and this extends to the brands they choose to support. “Millennials in particular are highly motivated by causes, which is why Lucy Pet Products has seen an enormous response to our ‘Products With A Cause’ platform,” he says. “All of our profits go to fund the Lucy Pet Foundation to help animals, and Millennials get it immediately.”
Lucy Pet Products’ newest line, debuting here at Global Pet Expo, is Cats Incredible cat litter. Developed through an exclusive multi-year partnership with The Dow Company, the new cat litter stops ammonia from forming in the litter box. It also features a unique two-handled bag with an easy-pour side spout, which has already been patented worldwide.
Leslie Yellin, executive vice president of Multipet International (booth 3257) in Moonachie, N.J., also sees cause-related marketing as key to engaging Millennial shoppers. “Focusing on social issues such as pet adoption and rescue, values that are important to this generation, will help them to become more engaged in the joys of pet ownership,” she says.
A leader in the pet toy category for more than two decades, Multipet is showcasing its recent expansion into lifestyle products—including pet carriers and backpacks—all-natural treats and grooming products. In addition, “Our new Kitty Sprinkles cat roller allows the consumer to add fresh catnip to their toy while giving their pet a toy that is interactive and encourages play,” says Yellin.
With so many opportunities spread out in front of them at this year’s Global Pet Expo, retailers and vendors alike are sure to head home with a clear idea of the trends, products and partners that will drive success for their businesses. That is vital, particularly in today’s tough competitive climate.
“Competition continues to grow as more and more companies are entering the market,” says Shweky. “If you don’t have something new and innovative, there’s nothing that sets you apart from the next company. Continuing to build out and refresh product lines is extremely important.”