Posted by: nickgerlich | October 8, 2007

Dog Daze

I suppose it says something when the number of pets in a nation increases to the point where there is 1 of them for every two of us. Such is the case now with dogs and cats in the US.

According to the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association (APPMA), there are 73 million dogs and 90 million cats alone in the US (and 303 million people). There are nearly 111 million US households, with 39% owning at least one cat, and 34% owning at least one dog (I guess cat owners are more likely to have more than one pet). And we haven’t even begun to consider all the people with birds, fish, reptiles, and horses.

It is thus no surprise at how huge the pet product market is. Pet expenditures for 2007 are forecasted to total just under $41 billion, over double what it was in 1994. The explosion in pet products has no doubt fueled the bottom lines of Petsmart and Petco. We love our pets, and we want nothing but the best for them.

DogologieSo enormous is this market that it has created niche opportunities for specialty retailers such as Dogologie, based in Fredericksburg TX.

Yes, it’s that magical time of year they know as Dogtoberfest. No canine should be caught sniffing around unless it is clothed in the finest doggie lederhosen available, you know. Let us hope that every dog’s bowls are filled with schnitzel and dark beer. Prosit!

There must be a commentary in here somewhere. I bet there are plenty of Third World children who would gladly trade places with our pets, because to do so would be a drastic improvement in their standard of living. But I’ll leave that up to you to think about.

Strictly from a marketing perspective, though, Dogologie has struck a chord with dog owners. While there may be more cats than dogs, every one knows this old saw: Dogs have masters, but cats have staff. Cats just are not interested in the trappings of being an American pet. But dogs go along for the ride (head out the window, of course), and do what they are told.

The array of specialty products at Dogologie is enough to give you pause (or is it paws?). Who would have thought that dogs need gourmet cookies and birthday cakes? Who could have imagined dogs running around in Halloween costumes? And what about the doggie sleeping bag and front carrier?

My oh my, don’t we treat our dogs like children. In fact, there is a lot of truth there, for many couples use dogs as “starter children” until they begin their own human family. Of course, once the kids come along, Fido takes a backseat.

Still, this is clever marketing, and taps into both a large customer base as well as rising discretionatry incomes. The dogs love it, their owners feel pretty cool showing off their four-legged friends, and the Dogologie people are barking all the way to the bank.

Chew on that bone for a while.

Dr “Ruff Rough” Gerlich

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