Pampered Pooches

By Christopher Zoukis

People love their pets. In fact, more than 80% of U.S. pet owners refer to themselves as “pet parents,” and 31% of women say they spend more time with their pet than their husband or partner. Sixty-three percent of the U.S. population owns a pet. Those pet owners will spend an estimated $50 billion on their pets in 2010. Image courtesy epamperedpets.com

The rich have money to spend, and they do not hesitate to spend it on their pets. Dog country clubs and luxury kennels, which are now called “hotels,” cater to the pets of wealthy owners. These luxury facilities offer pedicures and parties for pets, charging $300 to $400 dollars per night. There’s a church in Chicago that offers special religious services for pets. They even offer “pet blessings,” where an ordained pet minister lays hands on one’s pet. And most luxury hotels now offer “pet packages” so the rich can vacation with their pets. Such packages provide dog and cat walkers, day care facilities, pet parties, play-dates, grooming at pet boutiques, and special counseling sessions, where pets meet with pet psychologists and trainers.

Marketing and selling luxury products to affluent pet owners is big business. Where to start is the question? Lisa Johnson, who is the author of Mind Your X’s and Y’s offers four tips on how to market luxury brands and products for pets.

~Feature pets in ads and marketing promotions. The message should connect emotionally with pet owners, emphasizing the unconditional love and acceptance pets give.

~Determine the intersection point between the product and pets. For example, many custom-home builders now offer custom-designed pet showers. The showers have travertine tiled walls, tumbled stone floors, and tiled lips to keep water in the shower stall. Nine-foot ceilings are an available option. These custom builders saw a point of intersection between pets and multi-million dollar homes.

~Extend luxury brands to include pets. Imagine how the product would allow pet owners to indulge their pets through brand identity. For example, Harley-Davidson collars, leashes, and leather dog jackets or Ralph Lauren cat collars or a leather leash that matches the interior of the owner’s Bentley.

~Utilize social events for word-of-mouth referrals. Sponsoring an obedience event at a local dog-park and offer goody-bags to all entrants. At such gatherings, pet owners stand around talking, sipping Starbucks coffee. They brag about their pets like proud parents. The more exclusive the event, the more it will be remembered.