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It’s been a long time coming, but the industry finally met in person once again at SuperZoo in Las Vegas. While it was a little different than previous years, there was still a very good turnout, and buyers got to see some of the latest and greatest innovations the pet industry has to offer.

Now, here are some of the key takeaways from SuperZoo 2021....

 

Gradually Easing Back to Normality

Wearing masks around the show floor was a new experience for everyone, but other than that, the show functioned pretty much as normal. Even exhibitors expressed pleasant surprise, given the state of events, at how successful the show ended up being for them. With less meetings to get to and more time to spend talking to individuals, it was a welcome way to reconnect with partners or forge new relationships.

Leading up to the show, several exhibitors pulled out, which was an understandable decision as news of the Delta variant became more prevalent in the U.S. The decision to ultimately attend was not taken lightly for those who did so, and many ended up reducing their booth staff. While cancelations cast doubt on the overall impact of the show, and there were a few empty spaces here and there on the floor, it was still a good turnout for both exhibitors and buyers.

 

The Importance of Getting a Reaction

Of course, one of the greatest aspects of attending trade shows is attending the educational seminars. Keynote speaker Jon Taffer discussed how the pet retailers, while focused on selling services and solutions, are truly in the business of inciting reactions. Everything down to the look, feel and overall experience of walking into a store is imperative for its success, due to the fact that consumers ultimately need motivation to return. One of the best ways to do this is to provide value in terms of product, in terms of education, and in terms of other services so customers can come to the same place for all their pet’s needs.

Ultimately, this reaction needs to be a positive one to earn a customer’s business again. While pet stores were an essential business throughout the pandemic, there’s no denying that more consumers are shifting to purchasing online. To keep customers coming back in-stores, retailers need to continue brainstorming new ways to give them a reason to. 

 

The New and Anticipated Innovations

Of course, the main attractions at SuperZoo are the products themselves! There were a number of interesting innovations on the show floor that stood out, including treats that use alternative protein sources (such as octopus!), a “dognip” to help dogs relax, and ear plugs specifically made for dogs to drown out loud noises. 

Could there have been more exciting products that stood out in the crowd? Maybe. But, given the past few years, it’s safe to say that with this momentum going, the time is now to kick new ideas into overdrive ahead of Global Pet Expo in Orlando. 

Perhaps one of the best ways to describe the state of the pet industry right now is cautiously optimistic. The human-animal bond is a powerful one, and as more consumers learn more about pets and their pet’s needs, the more they’ll need effective pet products and services.