Reaching the Pet Market with Personalization

The FUNdamentals of Business Success Book

Growing up in a home with a few acres of land in a rural community, my brother and I were fortunate to have a variety of animals. We had goats, chickens and of course dogs and cats. Believe it or not, in my high school year book there is a picture of me and my horse – Blazer. Obviously, I am not alone in my love for animals, since the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) reports that more than 63% of households in the US have at least one pet. Those pet owners spend in excess of $55 billion dollars on pet products every year. As a decorator, you should be grabbing some of that big tasty pie!

First, let’s explore the different kinds of pet products that can be personalized. One of the most common and least expensive is the pet bandana. They are commonly used for marketing give-a-ways or as simple monogramed items. Another very popular item is a pet bowl. These can be made as marketing tools for brands, personalized for the pet owner and they can even have a matching pet bowl mat to keep the pet’s floor clean from spills. Next you have pet tags, to make it easy to find Fido, by customizing it with their very own image and contact details. Gone are the days of the stamped or etched metal piece and in are beautiful full color designs! These are available in all sorts of different shapes or sizes. Pet clothing is definitely something worth exploring as a decorator. Clothing can include animal tees, tanks, vests and hoodies. The basic tee is the most popular and available in a variety of sizes, up to a 3X for those husky pups of the world. The tees are also a great alternative to sweaters, which can cause major static in the hair of the dog and potentially cause itching. Hoodies are a hot trend in today’s market, as most have pockets which are perfect for storing bones. You can also find some more specialized products out there for pets like bone shaped ceramic jars for storing treats or even specifically size urns for your favorite pet’s remains that you can decorate with a picture of the pet for posterity.

Any customizable product can be decorated to appeal to the pet lovers, noting it does not have to be just for the actual pet. Remember, the pets are not the ones pulling out their wallet! Think of items like ornaments where the pet can have their very own decoration for the holidays, or even a personalized stocking for the pet so Santa can stuff them full of treats. Another avenue I have seen people be very successful in when it comes to pets, is the photo panel market place. Collages of the favorite pets on a cool shaped photo panel or photo slates, make very desirable pieces and can be sold for at a higher profit margin. Look to create keepsakes for pet owners at local animal clubs like an auto enthusiast might do at a local car club.

Speaking of local animal clubs, who else buys this stuff? Remember that Fido goes everywhere with us. Some banks give out treats along with some souvenir shops, ice cream parlors and there are even pet friendly outdoor malls. How about the pet friendly café up the street? Local animal hospitals, dog kennels, obedience schools and groomers too. These are all great places to reach out to and possibly partner up with on offering your services. Give them a 5% finder’s fee for each customer they send your way and provide them with some samples and brochures to display at their business.

Pet Boutiques are another great place to reach potential customers. Many of them will already be offering some personalized products, but hopefully you can help enhance their collection.  Consider, customized clothing with vinyl wording, rhinestones and embroidery. Or maybe you provide them contract services so they can offer sublimated products. Just remember that they will be looking for something unique so make it stand out.

Another niche you could fill is working with animal rescue groups and other animal related charitable organizations. Groups like the Humane Society, ASPCA and others (here is a list for the US). This can be very fulfilling work as you can make a profit, but at the same time be providing funds to these groups that they would not otherwise be getting. Help them get their brand and awareness up, give them a cut of the profit and provide some great looking products with personalization to those people who support the cause.

Finally, make sure to search for all of the different animal clubs that you can find. This could also include groups like 4H, rodeos and horse racing tracks. Come up with a nice set of samples for these groups to see and offer them something with their logo on it at a relatively low price. Then offer to personalize those items for their members for an up charge, and I bet you will get well over 90% who want to personalize those products if your price is right. Remember with sublimation there is little to no extra cost for you to personalize the items, so make sure the up charge makes sense (i.e. $10 with just the logo and only $2.50 to add a monogram or name, and $5.00 for a full color image).

There are several benefits and ways for targeting the pet product market, so get out there and take advantage of the huge marketplace. Not only can you decorate for us humans, but you also get to bring the whole family into the fun and can customize items for pets too.

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