Every May, pet owners are called to celebrate the animal companions who love us unconditionally. And with animal shelters nearly empty—the height of the pandemic saw a 700 percent increase in households fostering pets and 10 times the adoption applications since the first week of March 2020, and Time even named rescue animals the Pet of the Year—it seems that this year’s celebration will include more households than ever before.
For grocers, this month-long celebration means more than an abundance of pet photos filling your social media feed—it’s a real opportunity to capture the pet-owner basket. According to Red Oval Partner Nestlé Purina, that’s a basket you’re going to want:
- Pet owners spend 27 percent more per trip than non-pet buyers, and pet is the second biggest trip driver behind pharmacy
- Stores with an average or better pet performance have seen their total store performance four times higher than retailers with a below average pet performance
- Stores that lose a pet owner who shops in the category also lose six trips per pet shopper
“If you’ve read all the stories in this series on pet, it’s not hard to see that this is an enormous opportunity independents generally aren’t taking advantage of,” IGA CEO John Ross says. “It comes down to this: If you’re not investing in your pet aisle, you’re leaving sales on the table. You need to act now—order the kit, consider your assortment, and start marketing pet to your shoppers today and you’re going to see the benefit in increased sales and loyalty. It’s that simple.”
If you’re not investing in your pet aisle, you’re leaving sales on the table. You need to act now."
How can IGA retailers capture this pet-owner basket? We've put a Pet Month Cheat Sheet together for you to make it easy. In four simple steps using IGA's Pet Month resources, any IGA retailer can celebrate National Pet Month while boosting sales in the category.
- Celebrate National Pet Month with the IGA & Nestlé Purina Picture PAW-fect Pet Photo ComPETition
- Participate in the Purple Leash Project campaign
- Share online content to engage & inspire shoppers
- Ramp up your pet aisle
1. Celebrate National Pet Month with the IGA & Nestlé Purina Picture PAW-fect Pet Photo ComPETition
For nine years, IGA and Nestlé Purina have teamed up to host the Picture PAW-fect Pet Photo ComPETition, and it's going live once again on IGA.com starting May 1 and running through the end of the month.
Shoppers love this feel-good contest, which offers six grand prizes of Nestlé Purina pet food for a year and asks shoppers to submit a photo of their pet to win. The perfect opportunity for IGA stores to engage with shoppers on social media and show off their love of pets, here's what you can do to build an enthusiastic following and promote it:
- Share the contest on your store's social media accounts and website throughout May, using the graphics found on this page
- Promote the contest in your store's pet aisle and at the register with these graphics
2. Participate in the Purple Leash Project
What does domestic violence have to do with pets? Nearly 48 percent of domestic violence victims delay leaving a relationship because they can’t take their pets with them. With one in three women and one in four men experiencing domestic violence in their lifetimes, that can impact a lot of humans and pets.
But Nestlé Purina is working to change that through their partnership with RedRover® and support from retailers like you.
The Purple Leash Project was started to ensure victims of domestic abuse have access to more pet-friendly domestic violence shelters across the country. And by helping the Purple Leash Project support pet owners impacted by domestic violence, you’re helping families in your own customer community. But this initiative is more than a worthy cause—by shifting shopper perceptions of trust and confidences, it translates into increased purchases to benefit the project.
3. Use Online Content to Engage & Inspire Shoppers
Pet is an emotional category, and stores can use that bond between humans and pets in their marketing efforts. Communicate that your store is invested in pets and wants to help pet owners make the best decisions for their furry family members by sharing educational content. In addition to the Picture PAW-fect Pet Photo ComPETition and Purple Leash Project content, IGA.com has blogs ready to share with shoppers on how to select the right pet food, guidance on how much to feed your pet, and fun tips and recipes for homemade treats.
- Establish your store as the authority on all things pet by sharing exclusive IGA pet content on your store website and social media accounts
- Share your store's pet stories—ask employees to share photos of their pets and post them on the store's social media pages; create an end cap with staff recommended favorite treats and pet photos
4. Ramp Up Your Pet Aisle
With National Pet Month and the IGA & Nestlé Purina Picture PAW-fect Pet Photo ComPETition running in May, it's the perfect time to refresh your pet aisle. Make your store stand out as a pet care destination with these tips from Nestlé Purina PetCare's Category Team Leader Pat Patterson.
- Look at your pet aisle assortment. Patterson recommends stocking a better variety of the products your data suggests customers are already shopping for, while maintaining a varied selection in all subcategories. In other words, if your current customers are buying premium SKUs, increase your premium products and offer bigger bags of premium pet food. Have questions about the best assortment for your shoppers? Contact Nestlé Purina's Kara Destro, account manager, who can analyze your current sales and make optimal assortment recommendations by working with your wholesaler.
- Draw your shoppers into the aisle. Use the new IGA Happy & Healthy Pets sign kit, which identifies your pet aisle with colorful and fun signage and offers shopper education in-aisle.
Make the most of National Pet Month by pairing IGA's in-store merchandising with online shopper content and digital marketing for an easy and comprehensive campaign. Through these small efforts, shoppers will start to see their local IGA store as a trusted authority in pet—and you'll have some really cute photos of furry animals to show off in store and online, to boot! Learn more about pet strategy and how to get started on IGA.com.
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