As a pure e-tailer, PetSmart’s Chewy subsidiary is well positioned to meet the needs of shoppers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The company has met the moment by building engagement and loyalty through a mix of social media campaigns and cause activity.
The retailer moved quickly to acknowledge the pandemic with an update posted on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram on March 13. The update linked to a post on the e-tailer's “Pet Central” blog titled “Healthy at Home: A Guide for Pet Parents.” The post served as a compilation of relevant articles for consumers reacting to the pandemic including a guide to keeping pets safe around cleaning products and suggestions for using the time at home to train dogs.
The Healthy at Home theme reappeared in a series of social media updates posted on April 4 that introduced a series of twice-weekly challenges to help pets and people adjust to their new routines. The challenges include making pet treats or putting a pet bed in the dryer to warm it up. Consumers are encouraged to share pictures of how they meet each challenge on social media. The same theme also appears on a web page within chewy.com providing a mix of articles inspired by COVID-19 along with more traditional summer content.
On the cause front, Chewy joined the many retailers launching campaigns during the pandemic by partnering with GreaterGood.org to donate more than $1.7 million worth of pet food and healthcare supplies to animal welfare organizations in highly impacted states including California, Washington and New York.
“Chewy is committed to helping shelters and rescues, who provide a valuable and essential service to the health and well-being of animals in communities across the country, during this unprecedented time,” Chewy chief executive officer Sumit Singh said in a March 26 media release. “We remain dedicated to our partners operating on the frontlines of the current situation and will continue to look for ways to donate more.”
The retailer kept to that promise, donating $1 million to the Humane Society of the United States to provide food for people and pets living in underserved communities. April 24 social media updates promoted the contribution.
Chewy also tied in to the designation of April 30 as “National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day” by launching a sweepstakes awarding five winners with $50 worth of pet products. Consumers entered by responding to an April 30 Facebook update with a nomination of someone who recently adopted, rescued or fostered a pet.
The update also employed #GivingTuesdayNow, a reference to the May 5 charitable campaign by the organizers of the global Giving Tuesday celebration held annually on the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving. A May 4 Pet Central post spotlighted ways consumers could contribute to shelters and rescue organizations. The retailer pledged to donate $50 to the spotlighted nonprofits for every consumer who shared how they contributed to #GivngTuesdayNow in the comments of a May 5 Facebook update.
The April 30 update additionally introduced a #PetsBringUsTogether hashtag that Chewy has continued to utilize to post amusing or inspiring photos and videos of pets while encouraging consumers to do the same. The hashtag also appeared in a series of May 20 social media updates announcing that Chewy had donated $700,000 worth of dog food from private label American Journey to animal welfare organizations across the country.
The Pets Bring Us Together message anchors a series of TV spots showing people and their pets on video chats. A version posted on the retailer’s YouTube channel on April 29 has received nearly 1.7 million views. (See below.)
Check out this report for more information on how pet retailers have handled marketing during the COVID-19 pandemic.