PAWS for thought

You’ve probably all heard about the benefits of a dog-friendly working environment and, at Toolbox Marketing, we are proud to be not only dog-friendly but cat-friendly too! Pets in the workplace are proven to help reduce stress and anxiety, as well as promoting a positive work culture. However, are these advantages limited to just the workplace? Have you ever considered how this could correlate to a dog-friendly retail environment?

Over the past couple of years, pandemic pets have boomed. The Pet Food Manufacturer’s Association reported that 3.2 million households in the UK acquired a pet during the first year of the pandemic alone! Of these new owners, more than 50% are young people aged between 16 and 34 – a retail audience which is notoriously difficult to redirect from screen to store. Inviting them to bring along their new pooches may just be the key to success! Especially, when a cute photo in a coffee shop is essential to the rising pup-fluencer.

Any pet owner will tell you that there’s no such thing as ‘just a pet’. Our fur-babies are our family and many owners feel sad, and sometimes guilty, when they are forced to leave them behind. As a result, pet owners often shop in a hurry, clock-watching until their return home. This means less dwell time and less sales for physical stores. Encouraging owners to bring their dogs with them will therefore encourage a more positive shopping experience, with visitors feeling calmer, happier and browsing for longer. Stores which can provide this experience broaden their target audience and portray a flexible, supportive, on-trend brand, which many would look to support. Plus, they’ll benefit from all the positive experiences shoppers enjoy when engaging with their furry friends, and the special memories they create in doing so.

Also, let’s not forget the ever-growing doggy wardrobe! Pet owners are spending more and more on pet accessories as well as supplies, and with their pets in tow, customers are encouraged to spend even more in stores with such an offering. After noticing the rising volume of dog owners and “are you dog-friendly” requests, a Japanese restaurant in Edinburgh recently launched a dedicated doggy menu, featuring a variety of treats including beef spaghetti! The result: they’re a go-to experience for local and visiting pet owners, with many pet bloggers already lined up to work with them.

So, with more and more homes welcoming pets, perhaps it’s time for retailers to harness the benefits of welcoming them too? Without a doubt, it’s a clear opportunity to re-capture the post-pandemic audience, resonate with new customers and, ultimately, increase retail-based foot- and paw-fall! 

Written by Fran Smith