Pet Retailer Emphasizes Smart Over Mart

Discussion
Aug 25, 2005
George Anderson

By George Anderson


Petsmart knows its customers get it. Now, it’s hoping that a new logo and marketing campaign will help the two-legged members of its customers’ households come to the conclusion that it’s smart to shop at the pet products specialty retailer, as well.


Ken Hall, Petsmart’s chief marketing officer, wants shoppers to know that the company offers much more than just supplies. The company may have started out that way, said Mr. Hall, but today services such as grooming, day camp, obedience training and PetsHotel boarding have expanded the chain’s scope of operations.


“Today, customers want more. They’re much more interested in their pets. They think of their pets as children,” said Petsmart’s CMO.


“Things like training and grooming have become much more important,” he said. “Those parts of our business have seen great growth.”


Service sales at Petsmart reached $75.1 million in the last quarter, a 20.8 percent increase from the same period last year.


Beginning next month, reports The Arizona Republic, Petsmart (PETsMART) will launch a new marketing campaign and redesigned logo. The logo will capitalize the word “Smart” in the company name shifting the emphasis from “Mart”.


New television, radio and online ads will include the tagline, “That’s Smart.”


The company plans to add 100 stores this year to the 757 it currently operates along with four or five more Doggie Day Camps and 12 PetsHotel facilities.


 


Moderator’s Comment: Is Petsmart on the right track with its shift in emphasis away from simply selling products to selling a variety of solutions for
pet owners? Where do you see opportunities for the specialty retailer to reach new customers and/or generate greater revenues from existing shoppers?


This from the piece in The Republic: “Britt Beemer, chairman of America’s Research Group said Petsmart has done a poor job with database marketing.
The company has been testing a loyalty club this year, but Beemer said it could improve on its direct marketing to homes with pets.”

George Anderson – Moderator

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10 Comments on "Pet Retailer Emphasizes Smart Over Mart"


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nat chiaffarano
Guest
nat chiaffarano
15 years 6 months ago

Petsmart needs to develop an automatic refill program for food and meds, and grooming for busy pet owners, perhaps considering a home delivery service. It should also consider the socialization needs of its customers and develop or promote various types of clubs with specialized interests….. from exotic birds to endangered species. It should also private label some of its products to help brand its image.

Rick Moss
Guest
15 years 6 months ago

Mark, Carol…Petsmart’s adoption program actually looks fairly sophisticated, with a network of “more than 2,700 local animal welfare organizations.” You can see information by CLICKING HERE.

Carol Spieckerman
Guest
15 years 6 months ago
I love Mark’s idea and why not offer goody bags with products and coupons to new “parents” upon adoption at local adoption centers much as companies do for new, well, parents!? I also completely agree with Ian. I still do not buy food or treats at Petsmart (after a bit of research, the local health food store gets that business) and, increasingly, I get the pet-crazy stuff for my two toy guys at Target. (Have you seen their fantastic pet section lately? It’s enough to make the “marts” run head-first into services!) The big pitfall in expanding services will be consistency and I just haven’t seen that with Petsmart. I checked out their most ambitious service, their new hotel concept, and was less-than-impressed. My tour guide not only showed me around but shared employee problems (including people on staff who just don’t like animals very much), and negative comments about current dog residents that she didn’t care for. My pet sitter has real job security! Petsmart should fix their product before rushing into sketchy services… Read more »
Mark Lilien
Guest
15 years 6 months ago

Petsmart is wise to emphasize the Smart rather than the Mart. A positioning to people’s intelligence is more appealing.

The company has a great list of services (grooming, vet care, boarding). Its best business growth strategy might involve expanding the market by enhancing its charitable tactics.

They already collect donations on behalf of animal shelters. Perhaps they could start a national web site for shelters to picture and describe animals up for adoption, linked to the Petsmart web site. By promoting the site in the stores and on-line, as well as using the donor mailing lists of the shelters, they may expand their market. A friend of mine used to volunteer for an in-store animal shelter at a Petco location and the traffic generated to that area was substantial.

Rick Moss
Guest
15 years 6 months ago

Petsmart’s move into services is worthy of interest by retailers in other segments. (The struggling toy channel comes to mind.) Petsmart has proceeded with care to make sure quality remains high. That, to me, is the key ingredient. Because services such as grooming and boarding have historically been provided by small retailers, veterinarians…and even semi-professions from their homes…consumers have found it difficult to find a consistently high levels professionalism. I believe many pet owners will flock to a national brand like Petsmart if they can provide great customer service. And the one-stop-shop advantages are there, as well.

Doug Fleener
Guest
15 years 6 months ago
Sounds like a great campaign and playing up the Smart element is “Smart” business. Shifting away from just selling products to becoming a more solution-oriented business would be a smart choice. Of course, winning over the customer doesn’t happen with just a new logo or new marketing campaign, but by executing the “Smart” on the retail floor. Many of these services and the consultative approach is moving Petsmart directly into the space currently being occupied by the independents competing against them. This strategy isn’t that far off from what Best Buy has been successfully doing in consumer electronics. So the shift in emphasis is right on, but will the stores deliver it? Since I don’t have pets, I have to say I don’t visit Petsmart too often, but when I have the experience was less than stellar. So while this new campaign may reach new customers, will the in-store execution be enough to win them over? I know one thing, if I were an independent or regional pet retailer, I’d be doubling my efforts to… Read more »
Ian Percy
Guest
15 years 6 months ago

I’m a loyal Petsmart shopper. And it’s a fine idea to offer a range of other pet services beyond supplies. But how is that ‘smart’? It may be smart from a revenue or shareholder’s perspective but from the perspective of the pet? I don’t think so.

What would be really smart and a true differentiator is if Petsmart would label which supplies are actually good for your pet and which aren’t. Of course, that would eliminate half the stuff in the store because a lot of what they (and their competitors) sell is [unhealthy]. They sell chew bones so full of sugar you could serve them for dessert and biscuits full of dye, for example. I don’t want my dog’s nails painted – I want her healthy. So my plea is – Smarten-up!

M. Jericho Banks PhD
Guest
M. Jericho Banks PhD
15 years 6 months ago

This is a superb move, presaged by Pet-Smart’s longstanding (at least here in NorCal) in-store grooming service. My recommendation is to get into the business of prescribed pet medications by having in-house veterinarians. The mail-order segment of pet medication sales is exploding because of convenience and lower costs. Perhaps Pet-Smart could match these costs and provide almost as much convenience.

Dave Roberts
Guest
Dave Roberts
15 years 6 months ago

I’ve always thought that “forcing” Mart out of Petsmart didn’t work very well, so I really think this is a good idea. Since I do have pets, I’m a heavy user of the category and have always been pleased with Petsmart. My location has plenty of staff and they are absolute animal lovers. Since animal owners tend to talk about their animals with other owners a lot, I’ve note that some tend to confuse Petsmart with Petco–and both stores have very similar formats. In our market, the two are a block away in two different areas. This campaign may help to distinguish Petsmart from Petco a bit more.

Bernice Hurst
Guest
15 years 6 months ago

Based entirely on our recent discussion about mainstream food companies introducing more products for pets, it makes sense for Petsmart to emphasise their points of difference. It sounds as if there’s quite a bit of competition both within and between category retailers so moving into Smart marketing makes a great deal of sense.

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