I recently discovered that you can now buy wine for your cat or dog. I wish I was joking but I’m not, it’s a real thing. Your four-legged friend can now be your ultimate drinking buddy, with their very own bottles of Pinot Meow and CharDOGnay. It’s safe to say we now live in a world where there is no limit to how far we humans will go to indulge our pets. It’s been well over a decade since Paris Hilton popularised the idea of keeping a small dog in our handbags, however today, pets have grown to be more than just an accessory. The animal world is further expanding into our world, and they have become they have become “humanised” to the point that are considered by many to be members of the family. Pedigree New Zealand captured our growing pet-loving culture perfectly with their latest campaign dubbed The Child Replacement Programme. It aims to connect adoption dogs with parents who find themselves alone after their kids move out — put bluntly “when your kids move out, move on.” The ads drive parents to replacethem.co.nz, where they can find their ultimate canine substitute for their child through Pedigree’s adoption program. Those who adopt can even send in their child’s old possessions and Pedigree will turn them into new possessions for their new family member. This growing notion of furry children is becoming more important to our lifestyles than ever before and our deepening identification with our pets has shown to be one of the most meaningful ways for brands to engage with consumers.
Our commitment to treating our pets better than our human family members has had a substantial impact on our purchasing behaviours. Australian households are estimated to have spent more than $12.2 billion on pet products and services last year, up 42% since 2013 (1). In the US, according to the American Pet Products Association, an estimated $69.36 billion will be spent on pets this year (2). Whilst most of expenditure is spent on food, veterinary care and boarding, trends globally are suggesting our growing willingness to indulge pets in other ways. Product categories once considered solely relevant to human consumers, are now being expanded to include offerings for pets as well, from dog yoga to even alcoholic beverages. Today, our pets travel and exercise with us, they eat organic food and heck we even create social media accounts for them. The pet-loving society we live in today is now an increasingly important audience that can be targeted by any brand.
At the projects* we have noticed the pet subculture rise to mainstream status, with both small businesses and established brands outside of the pet industry grabbing at the opportunity to tug at our animal loving strings. Let’s take a look at the ones captivating audiences and proving that pets really are a brand’s best friend.
The Beauty of Pets
It may come to your surprise but many of the world’s biggest influencers aren’t human. Adorable pets have become the photographer’s muse and the faces for many brands. Sure they can sell pet food and accessories, but they also can sell beauty. Urban Decay, The Body Shop, Too Faced, Nyx, Smashbox and Lush cosmetics are among the beauty brands that have recently chosen to hire dogs and other pets as their brand ambassadors, specifically on Instagram, headlining some of their biggest digital campaigns. Take Chloe, who is one of the many rising stars in the world of pet influencers. Perfectly snapped in her white bathrobe with a tray of beauty products at her feet, she is not only a woman of class but the latest face of Urban Decay Cosmetics. Not only is her engagement better than most human influencers, but it’s a genius move for the brand when it comes to communicating their commitment against animal cruelty. Australia’s favourite bath and body brand The Body Shop took a similar approach with their recently launched “Forever Against Animal Testing,” a multi-year ad campaign aimed at raising awareness on the cruelty of animal testing in cosmetics. The brand partnered with five pet influencers including Tuna, Toast, Mr. Bagel and Bunny Mama (3).
“We’re not traditional, we’re quirky and different and are always trying to find ways to advertise that aren’t mainstream,” Andrea Blieden, VP of marketing for The Body Shop (3).
The Pawfect Car
Earlier this year Nissan found that the vast majority of dog owners said they would buy a new car that boasts more dog-friendly features (4). Discovering this new gap in the market, Nissan met consumers’ demands and unveiled a unique new model — the X-Trail 4Dogs concept — a car perfect for family adventures, particularly ones involving those with four legs. Watch the car in action in the video below, it really does take the pet-friendly car to the next level.
“It’s clear from the research that for dog owners, dogs are a key part of the family…ensuring their pet’s needs are catered for is often just as important as making sure the children are comfortable and happy. The Nissan X-Trail is a car that’s built for family adventures, and the X-Trail 4Dogs concept takes that to the next level.” — Ryan Gains, chief marketing manager, X-Trail (4).
In the USA, Mercedes-Benz has also taken the dog-friendly approach, for their second virtual reality marketing campaign featuring the new 2017 GLS sport utility vehicle. The luxury car dealer partnered up with Loki the wolfdog and his owner Kelly Lund, who boasts over one million Instagram followers, to create cinematic 360 video content for their YouTube channel and inspiring imagery for the brands socials. It brought a fresh perspective on Mercedes-Benz cars, targeting different audience segments through relatable, creative and authentic storytelling — not just injecting a pet for a quick jolt of cuteness, they made Loki the hero of the story.
A Furry Vacation
To form an even deeper connection with pet owners, going beyond branding, there are also opportunities for businesses to consider how they can serve the needs of consumers with pets by adding real value to their lives. New research from Mercure Hotels in the UK reveals that Brits would rather go away with a furry friend than a human pal (5). The British travel industry is losing out on up to an estimated 324 million a year by not catering to the 33% of Brits who said having a pet means they have missed out on going away (5). The hotel brand recognised this and this week revealed their new “Happy Tails” package at selected hotels around the country, where guests can now book a room with their pooch and choose from an exclusive canine-cuisine menu (5).
At the projects*, we remain observant of the pet culture phenomenon and are continuously inspired by the number of brands outside of the pet industry positioning themselves in unique ways to remain at the forefront of cultural shifts. From retail brands such as Germany IKEA building “dog parking lots” to Audible recently launching “Audible for Dogs”, their new service designed to keep canines relaxed whilst their owners are away from home. If you are interested in how your business can embrace new subcultures or how to create new opportunities for your brand, fetch us a line, we’d love to chat.