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[13 comments]

Pop-up combines cats and coffee

May 2, 2014

This past weekend, Purina One opened The Cat Café, a four-day-only pop-up in lower Manhattan that represented the first ever cat café in the U.S.

The shop was stocked with complimentary coffee and cappuccino — topped off with cream cat faces — along with adoptable cats and kittens, courtesy of North Shore Animal League, the country's largest no-kill shelter.

Outside, a large sign on one window read, "Join us for coffee, conversation, and cats!" Every day, different cat experts and interactive demonstrations provided insights about cats and cat health. Visitors were also encouraged to sign up for the Purina One 28 Day Challenge, which encourages cat owners to switch their pet's food to Purina One dry formulas for 28 days and gauge the difference in their cat's health.

With local health codes preventing food from being served alongside live animals, a separate 600-square-foot room sold light snacks and drinks that patrons could carry into the 1,600-square-foot cat-roaming area filled with couches, climbing trees and 16 cats at a time.

City-dwellers and tourists endured four-to-eight hour waits for the chance to take pictures and stroke some cats. Tahnee Nicholson told the Los Angeles Times, "It's nice to just sit and read or relax with a cat in your lap."

Purina gained widespread media coverage and saw over 5,000 people view a livestream of the event on Purina ONE's site. Thirty-six cats were adopted.

But another storyline was the rollout potential of cat Cafés. They're common in some Asian and European cities, largely because the majority of apartments do not allow furry companions. Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium, which opened in London in March and is booked through June, charges five pounds ($8.29) for up to two hours of cat lounging. Efforts are underway to open cat cafés in five U.S. cities: Catfé in Los Angeles, KitTea in San Francisco, Cat Town Café in Oakland, Cat Café in San Diego, and Purrington's Cat Lounge in Portland.

Purina has no current plans to open a permanent café. Spokeswoman Niky Roberts, told the New York Post, "Certainly it's something we'd never say no to. If there's an appetite for that, it's certainly something we'd be open to."

Discussion Questions:

What is your reaction to Nestle Purina's Café Café as a pop-up concept? Are there lessons others can take from Nestle Purina's Café Café around orchestrating pop-ups?

While we value unfettered opinion, we urge you to show respect and courtesy for people or companies about whom you comment. Keep in mind that this is a public, professional business discussion. RetailWire reserves the right to edit or refuse the publication of remarks that we deem unsuitable. We may also correct for unintended spelling and grammatical errors.

Instant Poll:

What grade would you give the Cat Café as a pop-up concept?

Comments:

Kudos to Purina for launching a successful publicity stunt. I don't think any of us are holding our breath for Purina to go into the QSR business....

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Cathy Hotka, Principal, Cathy Hotka & Associates

I suppose there's a market for it, but as a cat lover (just ask my 3 cats!) I don't much like it.

Cats aren't dogs. They have a much stronger sense of place than dogs do, and nothing fries them as much as being moved around into new spaces.

This is a case where I'm going to have to let the free market win. But I personally wouldn't touch it with a 10 foot pole. I might be more bullish on a pop-up spaying/neutering facility. One-and-done.

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Paula Rosenblum, Managing Partner, RSR Research

Great gimmick! Nestle received millions of dollars in publicity for a rather modest investment. And 36 cats found new homes. Pop-up stores, if done well, can be a boon to a business. The idea should be fanciful enough to attract consumer and media attention, and designed to make a point about a company's products, but not hit consumers of the head with it. Well done, Nestle.

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Max Goldberg, President, Max Goldberg & Associates

As an animal lover and advocate, the idea of driving awareness by taking cats out of their cages and integrating them into people-pleasing settings appeals to me. Some people just aren't wired for shelter visits and fresh context can build bridges to forever homes. Once again, the North Shore Animal League is showing others how it (can be) done.

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Carol Spieckerman, President, newmarketbuilders

Nice publicity event for a pop-up; I have seen a lot of pet friendly cafe here in SF (there is one cafe in the Mission that in the weekend morning reminds me of a kennel that serves coffee), but I never see too many cats...I am sure they will get a lot of press in the short haul though.

Purina branded coffee houses as a permanent establishment? I don't see it, and pass me the allergy meds! :-)

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Kenneth Leung, Director of Enterprise Industry Marketing, Avaya

My first response. GIVE ME A BREAK!

Cats? When can I bring my motorcycle in and have a coffee with it and other bike people?

Next we will have the Gerbil Milk Shake Hut.

All of this effort for cats is a great way for Nestle to get deeper into the retail side of their business and get to know their target markets. CPG operations need to know the shopper - especially if they want to retail to them (which it seems more and more want to go direct to the shopper).

 

 

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Tom Redd, Vice President, Strategic Communications, SAP Global Retail Business Unit

Smells like a P.R. stunt to me! But a good one. Nice try.

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Lee Peterson, EVP Creative Services, WD Partners

With millions of cats being euthanized every year due to lack of space at shelters, every adoption is a life saved! If it helps the Nestle brand make money, then I think it's a win win for everyone involved. Lives are saved, money is made, and people are happy; I love it!

Kimberly Long, Project Coordinator and Sales Support, Alert Tech

This was a well-executed socially responsible marketing campaign. To hook up with an animal shelter resulting in 36 cats being adopted is nothing short of success and a win-win for the corporate image among socially responsible consumers.

Ed Dunn, Founder, (Stealth Operation)

Cat petting lounges have been a phenomenon for years in urban Japan, where many apartment dwellers are not permitted to keep pets. Our son who lives near Tokyo shared some amusing images of a visit he made a year or two ago.

With this pop-up, Nestle Purina has added branding, product awareness and good works (pet rescue) to the mix. Sure, it's largely a PR activity, not a money maker, but its "event" quality can be a model for other product marketers.

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James Tenser, Principal, VSN Strategies

Sounds like a purr-fect execution (sorry, someone had to say it). Purina definitely got some high quality press at little or no net cost, and did some good along the way. For reasons others stated, I can't see it as a place to bring your own cat, but as an adoption event it makes complete sense.

Karen McNeely, Director of Retail Operations, Milwaukee Art Museum

I think this is a wonderful concept...to the degree that I am going to look into opening one myself!

Margie Rhodes, VP Business nDevelopment, Signature Signograms

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