How to Attract Pet Owners with Influencer Marketing

By Tuesday, December 11, 2018

In 2018, pet industry sales are expected to reach a whopping $86 billion dollars, and there’s no indication of deceleration in the coming years, according to Packaged Facts. In fact, overall sales of pet products and services grew 5% last year. Those stats have many brands asking how they can get even a kibble-sized portion of that revenue.

If you are already in the pet space, the answer might be somewhat obvious. Your audience is likely well-defined and you know your target demographic. But what if your brand is not in the pet space? What opportunities are available for you to reach pet parents who, by the way, are largely millennials or baby boomers and are known for pampering their pets with exclusive pet hotels and snazzy fashion accessories?

Non-Pet Brands Partnering with Pets the Right Way

Pet owners, like their dogs, can sniff out a disingenuous pitch from a mile away. So the key is to make it feel like a natural fit.

Many brands are already doing this quite well, using the adorableness of pets or the human-animal bond to boost sales and social engagement.

Check out a few of my faves:

Anthropologie. Take a look at this boutique-styled outfitter’s Instagram feed and you’ll notice pet-themed images often rank second only to images of homes. Check out this adorable pup , who’s kissing 37,000 likes at the time of this writing.

HP.  When tech giant, HP, leveraged the reach of Doug the Pug in a 2017 Facebook post, engagement soared from just a few hundred likes/reactions to several thousand.

Mercedes-Benz. The luxury car company has done so many things right in their partnership with Loki the Wolfdog. This ad for their 2017 GLS model not only tells a beautiful story of the bond between Kelly and Loki, its subtle product placement makes us want to be a part of their lifestyle without “in your face” sales gimmicks.

5 Tips for Seeking Out the Right Influencer to Attract Pet Owners

Regardless of the size or revenue of your brand, there’s a good chance there’s an influencer operating in the pet space that would be a good fit for you. But where do you start? How do you make sure it’s a good fit? And how do you ensure the partnership will be successful in terms of reaching your KPIs?

As an both an influencer, and as the founder and SVP of a top PR firm in the pet space, I can tell you that I’ve been on both sides of the table. And there are certain must-haves and to-dos when it comes to forming the perfect partnership.

1. Start your search where your brand lives (or wants to live).

Is your brand most prominent on Facebook? Then you’ll want to seek out influencers who are top performers on that platform. Or perhaps you’re looking to grow your Instagram following. Then find influencers who are killing it there and whose lifestyle resonates with your brand.

You’ll also need to decide if you want the pet to be the primary focus or if you want the owner to be involved in order to demonstrate how to use your product. Many accounts are pet-only and are very effective. However, if you want a product demo with a pet (like Chilly and I did for the BISSELL BarkBath), you’ll need to make sure the owner is camera-ready and experienced in giving product demos.

2. Find a natural fit. 

There’s nothing worse than a forced partnership. If you’re operating a pet-friendly budget hotel, then a pet influencer with an audience comprised of upper-class baby boomers may not be a great fit.

Here are some qualifying questions to ask a potential influencer:

  • What is your key demographic? (income, gender, age, location, etc)
  • Are you seeking to expand your audience? If so, who are you targeting?
  • Have you used our product/brand?
  • Have you ever left us a review after using our product/brand?
  • Are you featuring, or have you featured, our competitors? If so, why did the partnership end?

3. Define your goals.

How will you measure success? Will it be increased sales? Or new followers on social? More email subscribers? More traffic to your site?  Make sure this is well-defined before your partnership begins.

You’ll also want to agree on how that measurement of success is delivered. Will the influencer supply you with a full and detailed metrics report? Or will you measure in terms of sales?

4. Agree on Messaging

While the influencer should have some creative license to promote your product in a genuine manner, you need to nail down the overall messaging together.

  • What is the feeling you want to emote? Wanderlust? Excitement? Luxury living?
  • What terms, phrases, and hashtags should be included and which ones should be avoided?
  • Who is the primary audience?
  • Will the pet or the owner feature the product?

5. Agree on the Length of the Partnership 

While I’m a huge fan of long-term relationships, you may want to “try before you buy” with a short-term campaign, like an Instagram post.

Understand, though, that most large-frame goals will be met only with a sustained partnership. For instance, my audience knows that I have a long-standing relationship with World’s Best Cat Litter. I’ve used their litter with my cats for years, and I regularly endorse their products and feature them in my giveaways. Because of this, I frequently receive questions about the product and requests for product demos and other promotional materials. However, a one-and-done campaign is not likely to produce quite the same results.

That said, there is still some benefit to short-term partnerships. You just need to define how you’ll measure success.

Is Your Industry a Candidate for Leveraging Pet Influencer Marketing?

The short answer to this is: Most likely! 68% of US families include pets, so there’s a good chance that your demographic already includes pet lovers.

While this list is by no means exhaustive, here are some industries that are a great natural fit for pet influencer marketing initiatives:

  • Cleaning (vacuums, mops, cleaning supplies)
  • Flooring (pet homes need durable flooring)
  • Cars and trucks (Chilly and I had a blast with Toyota!)
  • Hotels and resorts (pet-friendly, of course!)
  • Electronics (video apps, camera apps, phones, etc. We all want to capture precious moments with our pets.)

Certainly pet influencers have potential for huge impact on your marketing initiatives and brand awareness.

Interested in seeing how we can make packaged or customized paid influencer campaigns work for you? Fill out the short form below and I’ll be in touch within 48 hours.