Retailers as Activists
By Mark Kalaygian
May 9, 2013

In a world dominated by digital media, it seems like just about everyone has their own personal soapbox to climb up on. And in many ways, this is a good thing. Today, anyone can be somewhat of an activist by furthering causes that are near and dear to them without even getting up from his or her seat. The rise of the Internet, particularly social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, has made drawing attention to issues that may have been overlooked by others as easy as hitting “enter.”


Using the Internet to communicate should be nothing new to pet specialty retailers; promoting your business over the web is absolute must in the 21st century. However, beyond looking at the short-term goals of improving their stores’ bottom line, retailers should consider using their digital soapboxes to further their long-term interests by promoting programs, organizations and initiatives that will help to keep the pet industry healthy and vibrant as a whole.


With this in mind, I would like to call attention to a recent announcement from the Human Animal Bond Research Initiative (HABRI). The organization, developed by the American Pet Products Association, will be distributing hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund research into the health benefits associated with pet ownership, and they are looking for worthy proposals to help in that distribution of funds.


Now, will promoting this call for proposals directly impact a pet store owners’ profitability? Not likely. However, helpingthe folks at HABRI succeed in illustrating the many health benefits of pet ownership through high-quality research will undoubtedly help the entire pet industry in the long run.


Hopefully, most retailers have developed a formidable online network of pet enthusiasts, including pet owners, veterinarians and other pet professionals and organizations. By promoting worthy programs like HABRI—or the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council or Pet in the Classroom, for that matter—you just might be informing someone who can make a worthwhile contribution to a cause that will impact us all.