The Royal BB's Girls will consult with you on the latest and best pet marketing strategy to promote your product or event.
Brands looking for a boost, are turning to four-legged talent and apparently man’s best friend is good at connecting with consumers online.
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Have you noticed that advertising is going to the dogs? Those cute, cuddly canines are springing up everywhere -- from commercials to print ads and websites.
Dogs are replacing the pretty girl with the great smile as the current darlings of advertisers of all types. And for good reason: That pup is worth its weight in gold. In an era when consumers are looking for a special connection with companies and brands, most people find dogs endearing and just plain irresistible.
Of course man's best friend won't be every marketer's best friend. This is not to say that you should think about using dogs in your marketing. But dogs in ads can teach us a lot about effective marketing tactics. Here are four lessons to be learned from marketing that has gone to the dogs.
Dogs Make You Look
One of the chief jobs of every ad is to capture the attention of the target audience. No one can act on your ad if they don't see it. Consumers are exposed to thousands of ads every day and are multitasking now more than ever before. This tremendous barrage of marketing messages -- from mobile ads on our cell phones to stickers on poles at the gas station -- has made us understandably selective about what we choose to notice. So when a commercial comes on and the first image is of a beautiful chocolate Labrador retriever sitting on a couch, people who have positive mental associations with dogs stop a moment to take a look. And when that happens, the advertiser has successfully scaled an incredibly challenging hurdle. Do your ads grab your customers' attention?
Dogs Engage Our Emotions
Getting consumers to notice your ad is the first task, and the next is to engage them in a way that will be memorable. Memory and emotion are inextricably bound together. Think about it: When you recall a fun experience with a childhood pet, how did it make you feel? The emotions seem to come rushing back, and it's hard to separate the memory from how the experience felt. For many people, simply seeing images of friendly dogs evokes warm feelings and in turn makes the advertisement more memorable. Ad recall is crucial to a high response rate since an ad has to be both seen and remembered to produce the desired result. What's the best way to engage your customers' emotions?
We Trust Man's Best Friend
The recession has changed the way we shop, as consumers now scrutinize product and company information more thoroughly than ever. With precious dollars to spend, we want to make them count. Companies must build an overall image of trustworthiness, and that's why advertisers, some major websites, and even software programs use images of dogs. Progressive Insurance for example, is running an amusing TV spot in which a dog presses a button to reveal competitive price quotes. Clearly, Progressive hopes customers will trust the company to offer insurance at a fair rate. What's another way to gain a greater feeling of trust among your customers?
Dog Lovers Feel a Kinship
For an ad to be effective, it has to ring true. The target audience must identify in some way with it, either because they're literally pictured or there's a story to which they can relate. According to a survey from the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association, there are about 77.5 million dogs owned in the United States, and nearly 40 percent of all households have at least one dog. For many of us, our dogs are vitally important members of the family. So when an ad features a dog, pet owners relate to the situation, person or family being depicted. We feel a kinship and begin to establish a connection with the company or brand being advertised. What's the best way to convey connection and community among your customers?
In all, advertisers are putting pups front and center because they grab attention in a memorable way. Dogs in ads engage the audience and subtly convey that this is an advertiser we can trust. And as consumers, we see ourselves reflected in the story being told by the advertiser, which motivates us to choose the advertised company or product over others we feel less warmly about. Now that's puppy power!
Pets are serious business. A recent American Pet Products Association report revealed that spending on pets hit a record $63 billion in 2016–a three-fold increase since 2004. We will break more records in the following years to come. Because today, nine in 10 pet owners see their pet as a member of their family.
Some guidelines for marketers in and outside the pet category who want to reach pet owners:
1. Connect your brand to activities customers do with their pets. There are plenty of options: Americans are extending their lifestyles to their pets and investing in their fulfillment. They don’t just go on a run with their dogs–they talk to them, watch TV with them, buy them holiday gifts, have their portraits made. Those lifestyles aren’t always healthy–56% of dogs in the US are overweight–but pet owners aspire to give their furry friends the best of everything.
2. Don’t just include a pet in your branding for a quick jolt of cuteness; make the pet the hero of your story. That’s what Toyota and Subaru did so effectively. The humblest of pets can play this role: for a Lloyds TSB ad and Facebook page, the star is a Pampered Hamster.
3. Create campaigns that elicit interaction from pets. Think kibble-scented print ads,Nestle’s television ad with a dog whistle humans couldn’t hear, or Purina’s iPad game for clever cats. Don’t think cats are that smart? Their owners do.
4. Build partnerships with like-minded brands. Zuke’s “Fuel the Love” all-natural performance treats were integral to Subaru’s campaign for the 2012 Impreza promoting active, outdoor lifestyles. Zuke’s has also partnered with dog gear company Ruffwear to create a holistic active dog experience for pet owners.
For an even deeper connection with pet owners, go beyond branding and consider where your company can find opportunity in serving their needs. The automotive sector might be in the lead with this brand strategy trend (Petfinder.com reveals that 16 percent of Americans buy cars with their dog in mind), but almost any brand can take advantage of this opportunity. If you run a hotel chain, don’t just offer pet-friendly rooms. What are guests supposed to do with their pets during the day? Think about extending your brand to on-site pet day care.
There are logical connections between natural foods and pet nutrition, financial services and pet insurance, or a top-of-the-line vacuum cleaner and one that can handle pet hair. Furniture designers could create pet-oriented and pet-proof furniture and fabric. Even a fashion brand like Mulberry can appeal to pet owners. Check out the high-end label’s seasonal collars and coats for dogs.
It’s hard to say for sure why Americans’ bond with pets is growing stronger. Perhaps it’s because pets provide some of our most enduring relationships. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, first marriages last a median of eight years, but life with a dog or cat can extend far beyond a decade.
Research has shown pet ownership has health benefits, including lower stress and anxiety. Scientists also believe that our reliance on pets is hardwired into our brains, because our survival and evolution depended on animal companionship. But whatever the reason, trends show that pets are one of the most meaningful ways to engage consumers.
Technology has changed the way we work, and not just by providing new tools - but by providing many new ideas. I happen to think that the lovable, comical, furry creature you call your friend is the best one yet.