Petco Advances Well-Being of Pets

Patrycja Malinowska
Director, Member Content, P2PI | profile
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As the COVID-19 pandemic drove unprecedented pet adoptions and sales, Petco was busy laying the groundwork for a major reinvention. The result is a rebranding that reflects a new corporate philosophy focused on improving pets’ well-being.

“We set out to evolve from a pet retailer and redefine the category by becoming the leader in pet health and wellness,” says Tariq Hassan, chief marketing officer at Petco, “[beginning] with the understanding that pet parents see pets as part of their family and were seeking ways to take better care of them.”

Emboldened to advocate for these consumers, Petco made a series of product assortment changes while also expanding key service and resource offerings, including removing dog and cat food and treats with artificial ingredients in 2019, shock collars in 2020, and difficult-to-digest rawhide this year.

Whole Health

The retailer’s new “Petco, The Health + Wellness Co.” rebranding boldly asserts the changes and goes hand in hand with a refined “Whole Health” approach. The retailer provides a clear framework for consumers to act in the best interest of their pets by offering products and services that meet needs across five interconnected dimensions of health: physical, mental, social, home and accessible – the last focused on in-store services including recently launched Vital Care, an annual subscription plan that covers pets’ routine wellness needs for $19 per month.

“Ultimately, this new platform showcases our dedication to taking a 360-degree approach to pet health and inspiring everything from future product and services innovation to brand experiences and communication,” Hassan says.

Honest Kitchen

One of the newest brands that has found a home at the reimagined Petco is a San Diego neighbor, The Honest Kitchen. The brand’s human-grade dog products are now sold on and in Petco stores, where they command one entire side of an upfront aisle.

“Our visions and values were perfectly aligned to form a partnership … one that would allow us to bring human-grade [pet food] to a whole new, expanded audience,” says The Honest Kitchen founder and chief integrity officer Lucy Postins.

“We created a front-of-store presence to drive awareness and really get our [employees] excited about the launch … with signage and messaging homing in on the brand’s high-quality recipes,” says Petco chief marketing officer Nick Konat. “Through our great relationship and collaboration across our teams, we built a custom campaign for the [brand] launch and also are proud to feature The Honest Kitchen in our new health & wellness [marketing] campaign that launched at the end of March.”

If We Were Pets …

Running under an overarching “It’s what we’d want if we were pets” message, the retailer’s new marketing campaign is a multichannel effort comprising TV spots, online videos, digital ads, public relations outreach, social media activity, P-O-P signage and email blasts.

Petco is also making advancements on the tech front, becoming the first pet retailer to join the retail media technology boom to offer marketers targeted digital advertising opportunities through a new partnership with CitrusAd.

And the retailer’s commitment to improving the lives of pets extends to its renamed nonprofit arm, Petco Love, which has launched the first-ever national database designed to be the go-to free resource for missing and found pets. Dubbed Love Lost, the searchable database uses facial recognition technology to help reunite lost pets with their families and already has commitments from industry partners including the American Pet Products Association, Bobs from Skechers, General Mills’ Blue Buffalo, Colgate-Palmolive’s Hills Pet Nutrition and the ASPCA.

“‘It’s what we’d want if we were pets’ is so much more than a tagline or a marketing campaign,” Hassan says. “It’s the articulation of the company’s aspiration to help pet parents do what’s best for their pets. It’s an enduring platform with the power to drive Petco’s future, and it represents our steadfast commitment to deliver on our purpose to improve the lives of pets, pet parents and our own [employees].”

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