Thursday, March 23, 2006

Has Your Packaging Gone To The Dogs?

Whether it's for Fido or for Morris, the market for pet products in "nontraditional" outlets (specific to retail outlets outside the traditional pet store venue) should reach nearly $4.2 billion by 2010, according to Market Trends. This area is expected to grow as pet products move into the luxury and "lifestyle" category such as diamond studded collars or designer duds for your pet. Companies like as Eddie Bauer and Louis Vitton are making luxury pet accessories and “must have” pet products. After all, your pet is the most important part of the family. (Just kidding!) But seriously, there is more money spent on things for pets than on babies - a lot more.

Remember last week when I asked "What's In You Bottle?" Well, it turns out that dogs have special bottled water too. "PetRefresh® is the only water available today that is specifically designed for the daily hydration needs of pets. Not a treat, but a core nutrient for better health." Also a new water product for dogs, OOH's "Pup Cups", is water in a cup for dogs on the go. They got great brand recognition by donating water to the Humane Society for Hurricane Katrina canine victims. I just love this one: K9 Water Co., a Valencia, Calif.-based company, is selling a line of vitamin-enriched bottled waters for dogs over the Internet. A four-pack comes in four flavors -- Toilet Water (chicken), Gutter Water (beef), Puddle Water (liver) and Hose Water (lamb).

The humanization of pets is more than just as part of the family; they are living longer and healthier lives. There are all kinds of innovations in pet "goodies." The list of packaged things for your dog is endless. In fact, there is even a new word coined, pupperware, to describe this niche. Pupperware n. Dog accessories and toys, particularly ones demonstrated and sold at in-home parties. [Blend of pup and Tupperware.]

But just innovation and being trendy doesn't tell the whole story. People are concerned about a dog’s health too. Vitamins and minerals for Fido present a huge new segment. The big thing in "packaging" is ease of dispensing and use for DIY pet medications. There are a lot of new DIY products offered for when you can do it yourself instead of carting your dog to the vet. Just remember make the instructions simple and easy to read if you want people to buy your product.

Recently "Greenies" (a top selling dog treat) got in trouble with consumers because purchasers claimed the product packaging was not informative enough about the potential choking problem. I don't know the outcome but its important to note that the consumers blamed the package labeling as part of the problem.

Affluent boomers and other empty nesters are looking at Fido as an integral part of the family. They have money to spend and plenty of it so look for an influx of products geared towards this audience. A good example is Harley Davidson. They see money in the 50+ generation and have developed the companion dog products too.

Think about this unique marketing and packaging application too. Prepared meals for dogs, sounds good enough for humans to eat.
The difference is visible, as Beneful Prepared Meals showcase the eight, mouth-watering varieties and real food ingredients in clear, ready-to-serve, re-sealable plastic containers – a new packaging innovation in pet food. The new product is being launched regionally in 2006 in 50 percent of the U.S."

I just had to use this example, Bow Wow Breakfast Cereal for Dogs. It is a new line of dog food intended for morning consumption. The company that makes it claims it's specifically formulated to meet a dog's needs in the morning. The thing is pets don't buy this stuff; people do. So keep that in mind as you develop your product packaging. First, you have to appeal to the "human" side of the dog owner.

At the Marketing to Women conference at which I recently spoke, I used an example of packaging dog food that appeals to women. Pedigree Dog Food just implemented a reclosable zipper, something SHE will buy. So think "people" when packaging your products for the dogs. You have to first persuade the owner to pick your product up off the shelf. Make sure that in addition to your packaging "going to the dogs" it's attracting the people too.

Some predictions on "hot" packaging trends in the coming months:
Baby Boomer Products
Environmental Sustainability And Packaging
Labeling And Ingredients Statements On Packaging (ongoing)
RFID And Packaging

For more insights on what is hot and what is not in packaging contact the Packaging Diva via phone at 678-594-6872 or via email at


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