Beyond Pet Industry Trends
We love pet industry trade shows. From Global Pet Expo to SuperZoo to the Petfood Forum, we attend these industry shows because, as brand development and marketing partners to pet product companies, we’re part of the industry. There are a lot of good trendspotting roundups (rounds-up?) from this year’s Global, so we won’t repeat what a lot of others are saying (here’s a good example); instead, here’s a list of 10 things we loved about Global beyond the biggest pet industry trends.
10. All Paws on Deck
It’s easy to take for granted, but there’s so much effort before, behind, and beyond the three days of Global. Organizations like the APPA, WPA, and WATT work so hard to make the shows happen. The logistics, woman-hours, and care applied to making a trade show happen is breathtaking. From booth design, shipping, and setup to the food vendors and janitorial staff who go woefully under-thanked, the entire show is truly remarkable. We’re grateful and honored every time we get to step foot into a trade show experience.
9. Getting Blunt About Cats
Cats are getting their time in the sun, and not just by the window. Wise pet food brands have turned attention from applying human nutrition trends and modern packaging design to dog food to doing the same in cat food. That interested us, but what actually delighted us were the array of cat products beyond food and the usual toys. Specifically, we loved the array of cat caves, which seem like chill places to lounge after indulging in some Meowy Jane.
8. Topper Off
Everyone knows that convenience is a huge consumer desire driving new product development in the human food space, but it’s less talked about as a driver in the pet space. Which is a bit odd. Because it’s the same humans looking for convenience. So when we see product delivery formats in the pet space making life easier, we tip our caps in salute. We especially appreciated an easy pour yogurt crumble, which is not only convenient but also clean, cleanliness being an underappreciated feature in treat packaging and one of our pet industry trends to look for.
7. This is the Chondroitin You’re Looking For
Supplements everywhere! We worked with our partner TropiClean to help them launch a new supplement line last year, and we helped another partner launch its first consumer supplement brand, so we were keen to see what’s happening in the supplement space, but to be honest, we were so tired after walking 11.7 miles on the show floor after Day 1 that we began eyeing Hip & Joint Supplements for ourselves. During our time at the show, our two-person crew logged over 43 miles.
6. Bras, Booties, and Boodie Things
Due to the urban poultry (city dwellers owning chickens, not chickens sporting urban gear) trend, birds are at least inhabiting the roost at Global if not ruling it. We saw the usual suspects, like chicken coops and delectable mealworm meals, but what we really enjoyed were the unusual (to us) suspects, like bird booties, bras, and diapers.
5. Bake Culture
This is not a follow-up to #9. One of our pet partners, Blue Dog Bakery, offers healthy treats for dogs and is an industry leader in natural baked treats. Partially because of that, we spent a good bit of time at Global seeing what others are up to in the baked treat category. With roots in the human food industry, we also just appreciate the baked goods category, and that includes what we call “bake culture,” which is full of creators and entrepreneurs who tend to enter the baked treat category. A shining example is Nicole Townsend of Spoil Me Rotten Dog Biscuits, who herself was a treat to talk with and is a stellar example of the startup spirit and intelligence so often seen in the baked goods space.
4. Plain(s) Positioning and Packaging
As brand development partners, we love talking to people about their products, and we especially enjoy talking positioning. For instance, we had a great discussion with Paws Pizzeria about the role of packaging in an otherwise commodity-level product.
One conversation we didn’t have because we didn’t want to be that guy/girl: a discussion about the marketing and decision-making behind Canagan’s Midwestern Plains Chicken Recipe. Canagan is a great dog food brand with lovely packaging, but we, as people of the Midwestern Plains, take exception to the mountains and the roaming chickens positioned prominently as features of the Midwestern Plains. The chickens we can get over. But by definition, the “plain” in Midwestern Plains refers to flat land, so the topographic heights gracing the front of the package feels like an egregious misstep, and it was hard not to take it personally!
3. Badge-Scan Face
We love trade shows for the opportunity to see our partners (past and present) in the pet industry. It’s always great to get that first moment of recognition across the aisles (we love the look on the face of our brand new partner Scott at Hillside Farms, shown here at the very moment that he registers our presence!). We especially love these moments because more often, we’re experiencing a different moment, one when, understandably, booth attendees scan our badge and don’t see the colors and words for “buyer” at the bottom and have to hide their disappointment!
2. When Urinnovating, the Heat is On!
It’s rare that we see products that feel new. There’s a lot of micro-innovation, and so much of what’s new focuses on the ingredient label rather than the product type or form itself. So we get excited when we encounter something that feels previously unaddressed. Like a pop-up pee pad with a built-in fire hydrant.
(For more scintillating videos like this, follow us on Instagram!) Perhaps that’s a product of evolution more than true innovation. But we were mesmerized by it. Once we broke the spell of the pop-up pee pad, we moved on and encountered PABS, the Pet Anti Breeding System, aka the ultimate chastity belt for dogs, aka the first product we’ve seen that physically protects your pup when the heat is on. Super smart, super helpful, and with a booth manned by enthusiastic, delightful folks, it was one of our favorite experiences of the show.
All the dogs. Literal piles of puppies.
We didn’t bring home any puppies, but we did bring back a lot of new relationships, connections, and insights. If you could use our understanding of both human food trends and pet industry trends to develop your brand, please email or call us today!