The Convenient Pet Store Marketing Essay

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The Convenient PetStore will be the best store for the pet lovers as it will be offering unique and premium quality pet food and supplies along with superb quality of dog grooming services at reasonable prices. There is a need for a store that offers healthy and nutritious products for the pets so that they can have a healthy and well-balanced diet. The U.S. Pet Store Industry is in the growth stage and the number of homes that have more than one pet are 62% of the total U.S. population. The pet owners are now treating their pets as family members and taking extensive care so that their pet remains fit and proper.

In order to meet the growing demand of pet owners for preservative free products, The Convenient PetStore will offer a wide range of products to the customers who have a strong bond with their pets and will pay high prices for ensuring safety of their pet’s health. After the survey of the entire market, it has been decided that the store will start its operations in Seattle in January 2013. The store has completed all pre-requisites so that the customers can avail the best quality products.

The management team and personnel required for running the store have been hired and they are being trained so that they can offer a spectacular range of services to the customers. The store website is under construction so that the customers can retrieve information about the store from visiting the site. The competitive edge that the store will have is the creation of organic foods for pets that will enhance their health and provide them unique and innovative products so that they can have an enjoyable and healthy life.

Description of the company

In the last few years, it has been observed that the number of pets in various households has increased and people love to keep cats and dogs as pets. According to Bennett (2011), it has been found that the pet owners have become too much conscious about the health of their pets and they are willing to purchase those products for their pets that are unique and developed from premium quality ingredients. Since pets have become the best friends of the pet owners, they have made them an integral part of their family members. The Convenient PetStore will start its operations from January 2013 with the aim of offering high quality products and services for the pets.

Mission

The mission of the company is “To provide a complete package of products and services for every pet owner by offering the pet owners the best option of getting access to products that are organic treats which are free from any kind of preservatives, dyes, added sugar, sodium or fillers i.e. 100% preservative free treats along with dog grooming services. All products will be developed with materials that are socially and environmentally friendly and the work environment will be conducive, rewarding and compatible with the requirements of the employees.”

Goals

The goals and objectives allow an organization to monitor its performance and ensure that it is well-aware of the targets that need to be achieved each year for successful performance in the market (Canon, 2007). The goals of the Convenient PetStore are as follows:

To become the leader in the organic food market of pets and achieve the market share of 10% by the end of year 2013.

To enhance the design and development of functional, beautiful and innovative products those are environmental and social friendly.

To achieve sales growth of 10% by the end of first three years of operations.

To open up new stores in two other cities in nearby states such as California and Auburn in year 2014 and 2015 respectively.

Company Ownership

The store will be started by Mr. Johns Smith and it will be a sole proprietorship as it is the easiest form of starting and running the company. The owner will ensure that it has sufficient funds for starting the store and managing first three years of operations so that it can ensure that it has appropriate cash flow available for funding the company’s progression. It has been estimated that the company will require minimum $34,500 for managing the start-up expenses and distribution of the expenses will be done as follows:

50% will be spent on the research and development of product i.e. patent fees, designing fees prototyping.

20% on corporate brand development i.e. marketing materials, advertising and designing of websites.

10% will be the administrative costs such as licensing, legal fees and general costs of administration.

20% on the home office such as equipment of office, improvement for interior, miscellaneous purchases and IT infrastructure installment.

The start-up financing cost will be financed by the combination of investment by owner along with a two-year loan from a well-reputed bank.

Products and Services

According to Moldway (2012), the pet stores in U.S. sell a variety of pets such as dogs, cats, birds and fish along with pet supplies and accessories so that they can provide one solution to the pet owners from single location. The products and services offered in this industry are divided into four major categories i.e. Live Animals, Pet Services, Pet Supplies and Pet Food. It is estimated that more than 71 million households in U.S. have ownership of one or two pets and they ensure that they buy high quality food and accessories from reliable and trustworthy pet stores and pet supercenters (Canon, 2007).

The range of products that are offered by a pet store comprise of a wide range of pets and pet food supplies such as collars, leashes, medication, toys, cat furniture, enclosures, health and beauty aids and dog kennels (Siegel, 2012). The latest trend in the market is of buying healthy and nutritious foods for the pets so that they remain healthy and fit; the pet owners even ensure that they have enough toys available with them so that they can play with their pets and have a fun-filled time. The company will be targeting the customers of three segments of the industry i.e. Pet Food, Pet Supplies and Pet Services.

The company will be making sales by providing following product and service offerings to the customers:

Sale of Pet Food and Supplies – The company will introduce natural food and treat items for the pets that have a rich content of vital nutrients and vitamins for promotion of a healthy and well-balanced diet. There will be three top selling brands available in the store such as Organix, Natura Pet Products and Newman’s Own Organics. The treats and snacks of Howling Hound Bakery, Flint River Ranch and Three Dog Bakery will be kept at the store.

The pet owners will be offered a wide range of options for pet toys so that they can have the best collection of top quality toys to have an enjoyable playing time with their pets. There will be a mixture of high priced and medium priced brands so that everyone can buy the products. A huge range of accessories will be provided so that walking or travelling with a dog or cat is an extension to the owner’s unique style by providing them accessories of well-known brands. The range of products available in the pet supplies will be collars, food and water bowls, leashes, pet furniture, pillows and pet clothing manufactured from fine quality fabric like faux fur, silk or suede.

Dog Grooming Services – Since dogs are among the popular pets that are found in more than 80% of the households, the company will offer exclusive dog grooming services for its special customers. Although there are many stores that are offering these services but The Convenient PetStore will have a competitive edge by having the best team of professionals conducting these sessions; the team will comprise of experts who have years of experience in this field. It has been decided that the service charges will be $40 per grooming session.

Industry Analysis and Trends

In the Pet industry, there is a strong need of a pet store that is offering healthy and organic foods along with professional services; hence, The Convenient PetStore will start its operations in Seattle, WA from January 2013 to provide the best solutions to the pet owners who are looking for healthy and appropriate alternatives for their pet supplies and services.

U.S. Pet Store Industry

The U.S. Pet Store Industry is growing at a fast pace as compared to other industries even in such economic turmoil. During the Great Recession period, when all other retail sectors were facing slow down in their businesses, the pet stores were yielding positive growth in the revenue stream. Although people had to face severe amount of reductions in their income level but they decided to cut down their own expenses and fulfill the needs of their pets as it is a general perception held by every pet owner that pet is a family member and it should be given utmost importance like any other person in the family.

According to 2011-2012 National Pet Owners Survey that was published by the APPA (American Pet Products Association), more than 62% of U.S. households have more than one pet which means that about 72.8 million homes have pets (“Industry Trends and Statistics”, 2012). It has been reported by Tully and Holland (2011) that Pet Store Industry is growing steadily in the last two decades and it is expected to grow at an average rate of 3.8% in the next five years (Siegel, 2012).

Industry Growth

The financial elasticity in the U.S. Pet Store Industry is because of the change in the demands of the pet owners as they have started treating them as an important part of the family and the pet stores have introduced new and innovative products to meet the growing need of healthy food and treats for the pets. It is estimated that the revenue from the Pet Store Industry will continue to grown at a rate of 4.1% in future if the pet owners continue to spend their disposable income on the food and supplies of their pets. As a result of the increase in demand of pet stores and increase in sales, the pet stores have been able to earn high profit margins in the last few years and it is estimated that the industry will reach the margin rate of 4.3% of the total revenue (Petfood Industry, 2011).

Barriers to entry

In the U.S. Pet Store Industry, there are various stringent rules and regulations and intense competition as the big stores have been able to create their own market niche. There are many state and federal laws that the pet stores have to comply with to ensure that they are able to conduct their operations in highly ethical and professional way. For instance, a pet store will have to first obtain the license from the concerned authority for opening the shop and ensure that there is adequate information available about conducting the business operations in legal manner. The two national retail giants i.e. PETCO and PetSmart account for more than half of the revenue of the industry; the small stores and franchises can compete only by offering customized and personalized services to the customers.

Any new pet store will require huge amount of capital for starting the store as the licensing and initial advertising cost are significantly higher. The new stores will have difficulty in developing relationships with the manufacturers and distributors of the pet supplies. Hence, there are various barriers to entry in this industry.

Strategic Positioning and Risk Analysis

Industry Trends and Current Situation

Since it has been reported by Moldway (2012) and Taylor (2012) that the Pet Store Industry is in the growth stage of the life cycle, it is predicted that this industry will have a bright future for new pet stores and shops. The major determinants of the growth of this industry are the increase in demand of pet owners for exclusive and premium quality products and services, high disposable income available with the pet owners as the economic conditions are improving and a rise in the number of pets present in the homes.

As the pet owners have become too much concerned about the health of their pets and have high disposable income, they are willing to spend more money on their pets (Bennett, 2010). Since the pet food industry is comprised of four key segments, the total revenue generated in this industry in year 2011 was $14.7 billion. The share of each segment in this total revenue amount is 58% Pet Food, 27.3% Pet Supplies, 10.2% Pet services and 4.5% live animals (Moldway, 2012).

As the demand of pet products and services will increase in the next few years, the number of pet stores is expected to grow at an average rate of 4.2% i.e. more than 15,000 by the end of 2017 (AAPMA, 2007). There will be an increase in the number of unique products that have been exclusively designed for the pets so that they are provided a complete package of healthy diet that will ensure that they remain fit for a long time. It is estimated that by the end of 2015, more than 30% of the pet shops will have organic foods and treats for the pets (Bennett, 2011).

Competitor Analysis

The major competitors in the Pet Store Industry are superstore chains like, PetValu, PETCO and PetSmart as they are the leaders of this market who have set up their own distribution networks and have ensured that they are easily accessible by everyone living in U.S. However, there are other various small stores that are a source of competition for the company like mass merchandisers such as Wal-Mart, K-Mart and Target and online stores such as TrendyPet.com, Orvis and Watson’s Pet Company. Some other indirect competitors are sporting good stores, wholesalers, dollar stores, departmental stores, home furnishing retailers and Internet stores as they can also sell the pet food and supplies as well (Partasarthy, 2010; Petfood Industry, 2011).

Target Market

The target market of the company is defined as people owning a pet in Seattle area who are looking for specialized services for their pets. Since the Pet Industry is such a huge market, The Convenient PetStore has described the target market profile as follows:

Gender: Male and Female

Age: 20-40 years

Lifestyle: Adventurous, Fun-loving, Socializing and love pets

Profession: Self-employed, Employed in a top-ranked organization or corporate entity

Income Level: $10,000 and above per month

In Seattle, more than 40% of the households have more than one pet and they are willing to give extra money for having excellent quality of products and services for their pets. The customers are becoming more selective and want to be assured that their pets are fed preservative free food so that there are no side effects on their health. It means that the target market includes those people who would high price for the health of their pets without compromising on the quality of products and services provided to them (Industry IQ, 2009).

Strategic Positioning

After analyzing the trends in the U.S. Pet Industry, it can be concluded that there is a huge potential for new entrants in the market as it is still in the growth stage. The outlook of the industry is very attractive but the new entrants will have to ensure that they have sufficient funds available for financing their operations. In order to create a distinctive position in the market, the store will focus on developing an image of the most reliable, environment friendly, pet lover and customer friendly store that is offering only healthy products at affordable prices for the target market so that the health of animals is protected from any severe disease.

Since there is a lack of companies that are targeting such customers, there is a huge chance that The Convenient PetStore is able to gain a competitive edge in the market. The marketing activities will be focused on attracting the customers in the first years of operation so that they have an idea about the different and unique range of product and service offering of the store. All of the marketing activities will be done to create a positive identity in the market so that the customers are easily attracted and retained.

Risk areas

There are mainly two risk areas for the store i.e. competition from existing competitors and stricter government regulations. The leading stores can start offering healthy products at lower prices to gain the target market’s attention. If the government will increase the tax rate or apply any new rule, then it can be threatening for the store as its operations will be vulnerable to get impacted by such steps by the government.

Marketing Plan

Environmental Analysis

The environmental analysis comprises of various factors and it is important for every company to be well-informed about the activities happening in its surroundings so that a timely action can be taken. From the analysis of the U.S. Pet Store Industry, following points have been highlighted to give an idea about the critical aspects of the industry’s business environment:

Economic – The economy of U.S. is still in recession and people have tighter income levels. Recently, it has been reported by the economists that the economy is getting out of recession and people’s disposable income is expected to increase at a steady level. The Pet Store Industry is not impacted despite the recession as people continue to buy the pet food, supplies and accessories at a stable pace. The economic outlook for this industry is positive and will continue to grow at a stable rate of 4.1%.

Technological – Since the technological innovations have eased the business operations of various organizations, the IT infrastructure is the backbone of every industry. In the Pet Store Industry, a well-integrated and latest IT system is mandatory requirement for each store so that all important data can be stored and retrieved easily. With the help of an appropriate IT infrastructure, adequate levels of inventory can be maintained and there is never shortage of supply on the stores.

Political and Legal – Every pet store operating in the industry will have to abide by the rules and regulations of the government so that it does not have to incur any heavy legal cost. The license is the pre-requisite for starting the store and the store has to ensure compliance with the Pet Animals Act 1951. The political environment is stable in recent times and it is expected that it is likely to have less impact on the Pet Store Industry.

Social-Cultural – The demographic and lifestyles of the consumers are changing and they are looking for the best options whenever making any purchasing decision. In case of pets, the customers are now treating them as family members and take extensive care of them by providing them appropriate grooming and feeding healthy and organic food and treats.

SWOT Analysis

The SWOT analysis of The Convenient PetStore has highlighted following aspects of the company:

Strengths:

A well-competent and highly trained workforce that comprise of highly experienced professionals and sales personnel at the store.

Extensive research is done to arrive at the target market so that there is a market for the store.

All products and services are offered in accordance with the demand of the customers so that they are attracted to the store’s offerings.

Weaknesses:

Unreliability of cash flows in the first few years of operation.

Entering in the market for the first time so there is lack of awareness and no reputation in the market.

Opportunities:

After the success of this store in Seattle, there are opportunities for expanding into California and Auburn as they have limited number of exclusive pet stores.

Introduce new range of products for the existing market and even start manufacturing locally to boost the employment rate in the country.

The products can be exported to international markets where there is a growing trend of keeping pets in the homes.

Threats

Increase in competition is the biggest threat as some other stores can be opened in nearby locations for getting the market share of the store.

The top-ranked retail giants can introduce their own range of healthy products at low prices.

The government can tighter the rules and regulations of the U.S. Pet Store Industry to attract more foreign brands in the country.

Marketing Objectives

The marketing objectives of The Convenient PetStore are as follows:

To establish the brand name in the market in its first year of operation so that the customers can create a distinctive image in their minds.

To increase the market share of the company by 10% by the end of year 2014 in Seattle.

To successfully enter into California and Auburn in years 2014 and 2015 respectively to target these markets.

To ensure that both traditional and online marketing mediums are used for increasing the market share and sales at a growing rate of 5% on average in the next three years.

Marketing Strategy

The marketing strategy for first year of operations is to create awareness about the store in the market i.e. its product and service offerings. The products of The Convenient PetStore will comprise of all top-ranked brands along with some medium rated brands so that a large group of people can benefit from the offerings. The packaging of products will be done by the suppliers and they will be assorted in appropriate manner in the store so that the customers can easily find them.

Since the store will be offering organic products and treats, the prices of ingredients used in them is slightly higher than regular ingredients used in pet products. The pricing strategy followed by the store for its products will be price skimming which means offering higher prices for the superior quality products. However, competitive pricing will be done for dog grooming services so that the store offers these services in alignment with the competitors.

In the first year, the advertising mediums that will be used are Television Commercials, advertisements in newspapers and billboards along with flyers, posters and advertisements in magazines. The store will organize a trade show so that it can create awareness about its presence in the market. In order to be present on Internet, the store’s website will be developed and all information about the store will be provided there.

From the second year of operation, the store will do advertising via newspapers, magazines and flyers and will start its online store so that the customers can do onlin purchasing. The dog grooming services will be offered as complementary service for the dog owners when they will make purchases of more than $2,000 from the store. Other promotional offers and discount packages will be offered to the customers to encourage them in making more purchases from the store.

Marketing Implementation and evaluation

The marketing efforts of the store will be reviewed monthly as the technological advancements take place on an ongoing basis and new products are introduced quickly as well. The initial source of evaluation for the company will be the difference in the estimated and actual sales of the product. On the website, the customers will be allowed to give their feedback about the product features, and the existing customers will be asked to participate in the survey of the computers.

However, some of the evaluation tools that will be used to measure the performance are as follows:

Keep track of the customers which can be done by tracking the traffic clicks and exposure to banner ads on the website from cross-linked and redirected links created for promotional purposes of the store on media channels, websites, key browsers or key search engines (all targeted for the marketing tactics).

The evaluation of direct sales, surveys, and e-mails designed for products recently purchased will give a proper indication about the customer’s satisfaction level and how successful the product is in view of the customers.

Carry out customer satisfaction surveys, gather information from customer reviews on various blogs, and review the customer feedback by selecting the users from Beta test market, both current and potential ones.

In order to sustain in today’s environment in which changes are happening on a continuous basis, the management team will have to make sure that they provide the products in ways designed in accordance with customers’ needs and requirements. The strategy should be properly developed and reviewed on a monthly basis to ensure that the changes are being incorporated.

Operational Plan

In order to effectively manage everything within the store, it is important to set out the operational plan so that everyone is well-aware of the operational procedures for smooth running of the business related activities. The main areas of concern of The Convenient PetStore are the terms and agreements with the suppliers and manufacturers, daily operational activities of the management team and store staff and exceptional customer service is the mandatory requirement of the store.

Suppliers and Manufacturers

Since the store is offering both products and services for pet owners, it will have to ensure that it has cordial terms and conditions with its suppliers and manufacturers. As the store is of small size, it will install simple Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software that will help it in developing an Intranet that will keep the store, its suppliers and manufacturers within the loop. The products for the grooming services will be directly purchased from one single supplier and when the inventory level will get low, an automated order will be immediately placed.

In order to make sure that there is adequate level of pet foods and supplies, the store personnel will keep a track of the items available and when the inventory level of any item will fall below the minimum level, an order will be placed to the supplier and manufacturer will be informed about the latest product. Although the cost of this system is high but in the long-run it will help the store in generating a good amount of revenue.

Daily Operations

The employees of the workforce will be working in two shifts as the store will remain open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily except for Sundays. However, the dog grooming services will be offered from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays especially for the valuable customers. One shift of the employees (sales representatives) will work from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and other from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.; the store manager and assistant manager will have to work as full-time employees as they will not be allowed to work in shifts.

Customer Service

Since the customers will be visiting the store, it is vital for the sales personnel to ensure that they give the best services to each of the customer. The store will ensure that the sales personnel are trained for two months at a training center before starting their jobs in the store. Currently, the sales personnel have been selected and they are getting training from the professionals in the training center so that they can start their job from January 2013.

Organization Structure and Personnel

Management Team

The management team will comprise of the owner of the store, Administration & Finance and Marketing, Production & Sales Manager. As the store will have limited finances so it will have a few departments and employees. When the store will make profit and grow, then four more departments will be added i.e. Finance, Production & Operations, IT and Human Resource. In the next year, legal department will be added to ensure compliance with the rules and regulations of the industry.

Employees

The Convenient PetStore will employ only four sales personnel (two for each shift), one assistant manager and one store manager. There job descriptions are developed in accordance with the market requirements so that they possess the appropriate sets of skills, knowledge and qualifications for fulfilling their job duties and tasks. As the store will grow, more employees will be hired to fulfill the operational demands of the stores.

Since employees are a valuable asset for the store, it will ensure that everyone is satisfied with the working condition and environment by offering them the required compensation and benefits package along with a work culture that enhances their productivity level. The work culture of The Convenient PetStore will be as follows:

Strong and Trustworthy relationship

Open communication

Customer-focused

High commitment level of employees

Providing opportunities for growth

High standards for accountability

Flexible working conditions

Well-coordinated processes and programs

Every employee who will make valuable contribution in the store will be rewarded in the form of high perks, bonus or commission depending on the level of achievement. There will be targets set for each employee so that he/she is motivated to improve the production level and help the store in achieving its desired mission.

Financials

Financial Assumptions

The Convenient PetStore is expected to have a sales growth of about 5% on average in the next three years and it is estimating that it will be able to earn good amount of revenue stream for funding future expenses. When the store will reach the target level of profit and certain amount of cash reserve is created, then 50% of the profits will be invested in research and development, improvements in existing products and operations and extend the marketing and sales efforts in other regions. 10% will be given in the form of bonus to employees, 10% will be given to Non-Profit Organizations and 20% will be invested in financial instruments of low risk.

Projected Income Statement

 

2013

2014

2015

Sales

143,500

165,025

200,900

Direct Cost of Sales

39,600

42,000

50,000

Gross Profit

103,900

123,025

150,900

Expenses

Management salaries

25,000

30,000

40,000

Staff salaries

10,000

18,000

25,000

Rent

4,000

4,000

4,000

Insurance

2,000

2,000

2,000

Utilities

1,500

1,500

1,500

Payroll Taxes

140

140

140

Website Management

1,800

2,400

3,000

Business Travel

8,000

10,000

12,000

Depreciation

1,000

1,000

1,000

Marketing and other expenses

10,000

12,000

14,000

Total Operating Expenses

63,440

81,040

102,640

Profit before Interest and taxes

40,460

41,985

48,260

EBITDA

40,460

41,985

48,260

Interest Expense

3,935

3,575

3,245

Tax Incurred

12,138

12,596

14,478

Net Profit

24,387

25,815

30,537

Projected Cash Flow Statement

 

2013

2014

2015

Cash Received

Cas