Designing Events for Pet Parents

February 21, 2018 | B2C Consumer Activations

Pet events are changing as the perception of pet ownership is evolving. Pets aren’t simply furry add-ons — they’re members of the family. That rings especially true for millennials, 44% of which view their pets as starter children. And that shift in perception signifies a big opportunity for brands.

Whether you’re looking for new ways to target pet parents, designing pet events, or something in between, take a spin through these fur baby-friendly strategies.

Incorporate Influencers

One way to draw in consumer for pet events? Leverage the fur balls they love almost as much as their own — pet influencers. In honor of National Pet Month, Scotch-Brite connected with pet parents through an event in New York City’s Central Park, inviting some of Instagram’s most recognizable four-legged friends to attend as part of its #WorthTheMess campaign. Equipped with an oversized sofa, Scotch-Brite invited the canine influencers to scratch, drool and shed all over the “cuddle couch,” creating plenty of “awww” moments for attendees and extending the reach of the campaign through the pups’ many followers. The brand then wiped the couch down with its lint rollers to highlight how the product can keep pet parents’ furniture clean, showing it cares about the demographic’s pain points while simultaneously underscoring its value proposition.

Start With a Standard Event Strategy

You don’t have to devise an entirely new activation platform when planning for pet events — existing ones may be just as effective. Take Wellness Pet Food, which launched a full-fledged mobile tour centered on dogs to promote its TruFood product. Just like any human-centric mobile tour, the experience featured a memorable vehicle, the Wellness TruFood Wagon, and free samples. There was also a drink station and agility course set up for the pups, along with chances for pet parents to win a year’s supply of food and other prizes.

Carve Out a Unique Sponsorship

At major events like professional sports competitions, sponsorship activations are often oversaturated with tech, athletic and lifestyle brands thanks to the kind of audience the event attracts. But recognizing that pet owners and animal lovers are part of nearly every demographic, Only Natural Pet carved out a unique sponsorship for itself, becoming the first-ever pet brand to sponsor the X Games. The brand leveraged on-site activations to make emotional connections with pet owners by showcasing topnotch rescuing techniques, including safely burying people in the snow to be located, uncovered and rescued by a canine team. If Only Natural Pet had repeated the activation at an American Kennel Club championship, perhaps the presence of other pet brand sponsors would lessen its impact. But by entering an untapped market, it earned a significant boost in brand awareness.

Tug at the Heartstrings

Like any demographic, pet owners care deeply about issues that affect their own wellbeing, as well as that of their loved ones — especially when it comes to product testing on animals. By demonstrating that your brand cares about the same issues, you open up greater opportunities for making emotional connections with them. That was The Body Shop’s approach when it instituted the first-ever canine-assisted protest outside the UN headquarters in New York City. In partnership with Cruelty Free International, the brand used real dogs to lobby for a cruelty-free beauty industry. Eight pups of all different breeds and sizes took to the streets with protest signs, bandanas and mini banners bearing anti-animal testing messaging.

When it comes to targeting pet parents, the more you understand about them and their furry friends, the more successful you’ll be in engaging them (Did you know dogs have their own musical taste?). So do your due diligence — “the dog ate my homework” excuse won’t get you anywhere with this crowd.

Check out events produced and designed by Sparks here.

Posted by Kristy Elisano | Request as a Speaker

Caffeine dependent Jersey girl. Inspired by creative risk takers and underdogs. Chief Marketing Officer, Doodle owner and lover of all things chocolate.