PetSmart Trains New Pet Owners

Patrycja Malinowska
Associate Director - Content, P2PI
Patrycja Malinowska profile picture

PetSmart elevated its annual “puppy central” campaign this year with ramped up in-store, digital and print activity. Using the phrase “the new pet place,” PetSmart positioned itself as a one-stop shop for consumers who just got a new puppy – or another type of pet.

In stores, relevant products including toys, attire, treats, potty pads and dog beds were stocked on rolling racks and dump bins positioned in the main shopping aisle, directly in front of the entry door. The racks and surrounding endcaps were outfitted with coordinated header cards, creating a can’t-be-missed, dedicated merchandising area.

Kong Co. stood out by commanding one entire side of a rack, creating a visual brand block with its durable rubber treat dispensers and various options for fillers. PetSmart also plugged its grooming services with a side panel inviting salon walk-ins.

Some of the header cards promoted a “puppy guide” booklet that was merchandised alongside various stuffed toys on one of the racks. Priced at $19.99, the booklet’s cover promised more than $300 in savings on food, treats, toys, services and more while also delivering various puppy parenting tips, tricks and checklists for essential supplies, puppy proofing, socializing, training, grooming and vaccinations. Several pages were dedicated to PetSmart’s in-store services, providing coupons for such offerings as consultations and microchipping at Banfield, doggie day camp and overnight stays at PetSmart PetsHotel, and baths. One page also plugged PetSmart Charities and encouraged shoppers to make donations via the PIN pad at checkout.

While many of the product coupons contained in the booklet were generic, there was also noteworthy brand activity in the form of coupons ranging in value from $1 to $5 for Virbac, Spectrum Brands’ Dentley’s and Nature’s Miracle, Ceva Sante Animale’s Adaptil and private label Top Paw, among others. Natural Pet, American Nutrition’s Simply Nourish and private label Authority also were elevated on a nutrition tips page as “brands you & your puppy will love.”

The booklet was exclusively for dog parents, but this year’s in-store activity also included one rack dedicated to kitten products including toys, scratching posts and slow feeders.

Additional support for the new pet place campaign included circular features and home page banner ads. The latter linked to a dedicated e-commerce shop offering shopping checklists, educational resources and recommended products for dogs and cats as well as fish, birds, reptiles and small critters.

Outside of the official campaign but still noteworthy, separate circular features dangled $5 or $15 in digital rewards with purchases of $25 or $50 worth of Blue Buffalo products under a relevant “Feed well in 2020 message.”

In other related moves, PetSmart’s is on the roster of official sponsors of the annual Puppy Bowl broadcast and TV adoption event aired by Discovery’s Animal Planet on Super Bowl Sunday. The e-commerce subsidiary took the spot from former sponsor and channel rival Petco in 2018, putting its own name on the Chewy “Lombarky” trophy as well as the end zone pylons mounted with cameras that provide a front-row-seat view. Home improvement retailer The Home Depot and brands including Church & Dwight’s Arm & Hammer Clump & Seal, Bissell, and Mars Inc.’s Pedigree and Temptation were also among this year’s sponsors.