More than 23 million American households, nearly one in five, adopted a pet during the pandemic, according to research from Kradle in spring 2022. And it is predicted that Americans will spend close to $109.6 billion on their pets this year alone.
Still, this growing market of pet parents is a discerning group, wanting to find the best for their fur babies and often paying high prices to do it.
For Veronica Becchetti and Bill Wells, co-founders of a fan-favorite pet lifestyle brand, Wild One, delivering the best to their dogs meant taking matters into their own hands.
“After talking to friends about their similar experiences, it became pretty clear that our desire for a seamless, curated, well-designed collection of dog products hadn’t been met,” Becchetti told WWD, recounting how she had combed through the market to be disappointed in options for high quality and high designed pet essentials.
“The more we lifted the hood on the world of pets, we realized the abundance of products to choose from often overwhelms pet parents, leaving them unsure of the best path forward,” Becchetti said. “Our goal has always been to create highly functional pet essentials, with a strong focus on design, that meet the premium standards of our customers. We’ve designed and formulated the best versions of essentials needed for the modern pet parent.”
The brand’s mission, she said, is to develop the best pet essentials for the modern pet parents, matched with a commitment to partner with veterinarians, nutritionists and animal experts, to develop the best and safest assortment of products. “This dedication to quality has been the most meaningful way to foster loyalty with our customers, that goes beyond promotions and discounts,” Becchetti said.
While Wild One customers were always passionate, Wells said he saw just how dedicated Wild One’s customers are to their dogs’ quality of life during the pandemic. “In addition to a general uptick across our entire assortment, we’ve seen significant lifts with our Carry Collection and our Care Collection (supplements, grooming and treats). This increased demand shows a newfound preference to travel with and spend more time with your pet. We’ve also seen a dedication to the long-term health and wellness of their dog, in convenient and management forms, be it supplement or organic treats.”
Being a direct-to-consumer brand, Wild One has used its engagement with consumers as an opportunity to listen and respond at a speed that is not typically possible in retail. Quality, design and functionality are a core focus of Wild One and what Becchetti and Wells attribute to their customers over other pet brands. However, the brand also regularly crowdsources feedback from customers through surveys and social polls to uncover what products they love, have thoughts on and long for. This feedback loop allows the brand to implement ongoing and continuous improvements to our assortment, making them even more functional for our customers.
Additionally, Becchetti told WWD that the customer service team interacts with hundreds of consumers every day and takes notes of customers’ needs and expectations. During these conversations, the brand has taken part in outfitting dogs for weddings but also listened to feedback and started participating in giveback programs and product recycling. The Wild One team has also been known to send handwritten notes to customers.
“Since the very beginning of Wild One, our community has always had a significant role in the direction and development of our brand and our products,” Becchetti said. “From new colors and category requests to philanthropic rescue partners, we’ve continually turned to our community to determine what’s next for Wild One. This feedback has been and will continue to be, the greatest resource we have for developing the most thoughtful and intentional products, that allow pet parents to focus only on the essentials they need, allow for less waste and more quality products.”
Listening has created quite a loyal following and because of this, larger retailers have also taken notice.
“Retailers are taking note of the new generation of pet brands that are meeting the needs of customers in real-time and finding opportunities to bring those brands into their stores,” said Wells. “Our team has been excited to partner with mass retailers, such as Target and Petco, to bring the innovation of Wild One online and in-store to their customers’ needs in greater detail.”
In partnership with these retailers, Wild One has developed limited edition and even exclusive collections and assortments bringing the same level of product in-stores.
“Pet parents’ needs and expectations for their pet essentials are beginning to mirror the needs and expectations they have for themselves,” Wells said on how the pet market uniquely fosters customer loyalty. “This means brands and retailers are catering to a group of consumers with stronger preferences for quality, design and function. As pets become part of the family, customers will return to brands they trust to consistently meet those needs.”
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