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Marketing to Pets and Their Owners: Throw ‘Em a Bone and Appeal to the ‘Aww’ Factor!

No matter what new technology develops, one thing still rings true: people love their pets. In fact, people love everyone else’s pets, too! Since social media and technology have become such an integral part of our daily life, it only makes sense that they’re beginning to play a role in the lives of our pets. Pets aren’t creating Facebook and Twitter profiles on their own, though. Behind every internet pet sensation is a human with a wallet and opposable thumbs.

The UK Telegraph reported that more than half of pet owners post about their furry friends on social media, and that 1 in 10 of all pets in the UK have their own page. It doesn’t stop at social networking. There are even sites like Doggie Dating, which offer an online dating service for pups!

Sockington

Sockington has over 1.4 million followers on Twitter.

Maybe you’re not a dog person. Don’t worry! Your cuddly kittens are not being left out of this digital pet phenomenon. Friskies has developed iPad apps specifically for cats. The games are titled “Cat Fishing,” “Tasty Treasures Hunt,” and “Party Mix-Up,” and they essentially consist of graphics floating across the screen for a cat to swat at. (You thought you could just do that with a piece of string or a laser pointer, didn’t you?) You can check out a clip of these games in action below.

Crazy? Maybe. But Friskies will be laughing all the way to the bank. They have realized two things: 1. People are obsessed with new technology, and 2. people are obsessed with their pets. Put the two together, and you’re bound to strike gold!

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that pets are becoming increasingly popular with technology and on social sharing sites. Case in point: how many hours have you spent watching videos of adorable kittens and puppies on YouTube? I’m sure it’s a lot more than you are willing to admit. People love watching videos and viewing pictures of other people’s pets just as much as they love sharing videos and pictures of their own.

Boo

How could you resist this face?

Puppies like Boo (pictured to the left) are more popular on social networking sites than some of your favorite celebrities. Boo is known as “The World’s Cutest Dog,” has a book coming out soon, and has over 1 million fans on Facebook. Yes, you read that correctly. He has more fans than Jessica Alba, Bob Saget, Sharron Osbourne, Martha Stewart, and many others.

What am I trying to say? If you are not marketing your brand to these tech-driven pet owners in some way, you are missing out on a HUGE opportunity. Maybe you don’t have to go as far as creating an app for hamsters – it can be as simple as pet-related promotional products or a social networking contest for fans to submit photos of their furry friends with your product!

What do you think? Do you follow any animals on social networking sites? Would you let your cat play with your iPad? What other ways would you market to these pet owners?



Jenna Markowski

Jenna has a much easier time writing about the media and pop culture than she does writing about herself. She enjoys the simple things in life, like puns and typography. She is an avid fan of pop-punk, Halo 3, Spider-Man and origami, with a slight Taco Bell obsession. Her spirit animal is either a bulldog or a panda bear. You can also connect with Jenna on Google+ and Twitter.

Comments

  1. amy

    I follow @Sockington, @GoGoGoFern, and @BronxZoosCobra… wow. I hadn’t realized I follow 3 “animals”, two of which are cats. Kinda awesome, yet kinda sad LOL. Their tweets are funny though and actually have made me laugh out loud!

    My cat wasn’t smart enough to brush up against the wall without actually running into it, let alone “playing” with an iPad. Points to those pet owners with intelligent animals!

    For all the dog owners out there, umbrellas I think would be a great promo item. Whether sun or rain that dog has to “go” ;) http://www.qualitylogoproducts.com/tradeshow-promotions/43arc-umbrella.htm

    Great post Jenna! Thanks for the major ‘awwwww’ factor!!

    • Jenna Markowski

      I follow @Sockington, too! He’s so funny!

      I don’t think my cats would figure out how to play with an iPad, either. They’d probably look at it for a couple of seconds and then walk away and resume sleeping for the rest of the day. You probably have to have your cats playing with an iPad from a young age!

      Thanks, Amy! :)

      • Amanda

        We used to have 3 cats, before 1 ran away, and she (Peaches) would have played with the iPad games I think. She loved chasing laser pointers all through the house, so I think she would get some fun out of these too. But our other 2 cats, I don’t think would. They’re not as amused with toys n stuff.

  2. Joseph Giorgi

    I’ve always wondered if iPad screens are scratch-resistant or if there are screen covers available. I mean, a $500 piece of tech isn’t exactly the kind of item I’d let my cats just play around with. If the screen is riddled with scuff-marks, then what good is the product?

    Anyway, awesome post, Jenna! :) You’re absolutely right — human beings are strangely infatuated with their pets, and marketers would do well to take note of this.

    I’ve seen pictures of that dog (Boo) before, but I had no idea that he had over one million Facebook followers! Kudos to the owners for capitalizing on that popularity with the book deal. Smart move. That dog won’t stay cute forever — dogs never do. (I’m a cat-guy though). ;)

    • JPorretto

      Dems fightin’ words! I challenge you to tell me my dogs aren’t cute…. go on. Do it. Do it. Can’t can ya? Didn’t think so.

    • Jenna Markowski

      The Friskies website has a little disclaimer that says, “The bare glass screen on the iPad® stands up to our cat’s claws with no problems, but please be aware that a cat’s sharp claws could possibly damage add-on plastic film covers.”

      So apparently the iPad is better off without a cover when being used by cats? I don’t know, seems risky to me!

      I’m an equal-opportunity pet lover, but cats are my favorite just because they are more low maintenance. I love other people’s dogs, but I’m not a big fan of owning one myself — I guess that’s where puppies like Boo on Facebook come in handy! :)

      • Amanda

        That’s so funny Jenna! I’m the opposite. I love our dog, but not others dogs so much–I’m not a fan of the slobber and dog smell, lol. I like cats better. But having a big dog makes me feel safe–and I love that!

      • amy

        I agree with you Jenna! I like other people’s dogs when I visit, but I’d rather have a cat :)

  3. Jill Tooley

    Okay, I’ll admit it: I’m smitten with little Boo! He is so adorable I can’t even stand it. Totally understandable that he’s got so many fans on Facebook (and he’s about to gain one more the next time I log into my account)! You’re right about pet owners loving their pets and other people’s pets to the point of obsession – just look at the whole LOLcats phenomenon!

    Since everyone and their grandmother seems to have a Facebook account and/or an iPad with WiFi these days, it’s only logical for people to want to use those tools to share cute things. Most (if not all) of it may be fluff, but damn, is it ever adorable!

    Unfortunately, I’m currently an animal-loving person without any pets to call my own. :( If my husband ever decides to stop being a meanie-head and actually lets me adopt the little guinea pigs I desperately want, then I’m going to go ALL OUT with the obsessing. I’m talking Halloween costumes, videos, pictures, the whole nine yards. And it’s going to be Squee City for me! ;)

    • Jenna Markowski

      Boo is so cute! I need to befriend him on Facebook, too! You’re right, LOLcats is a great example of people obsessing over other people’s pets.

      Whenever I feel like procrastinating on homework (or anything, really) I always find myself getting wrapped up in an endless stream of adorable kittens and puppies on Youtube. It is a serious problem!

      It’s too bad that your meanie-head husband won’t let you have some precious guinea pigs to love. Maybe one day his heart will warm up and all of your dreams will come true! :)

      • Jill Tooley

        I know, right? You should tell him how heartless he is the next time you see him. He’d love that! ;)

  4. Mandy Kilinskis

    I would not let any cat play with my hypothetical iPad. I would not even let a cat play with my TouchPad. I don’t care how scratch-resistant the screens might be, and/or if they are declawed, it’s just not going to happen. Sorry, kittie, you’re stuck in the dark ages of string and flashlight.

    I would, however, buy my cat this Star Trek-inspired cat scratch tower:
    http://www.woohome.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Star-Trek-Cat-Tower-1.jpg

    • Jill Tooley

      That’s pretty much the greatest cat accessory EVER. Great find!

      • Jenna Markowski

        I wouldn’t let my cat play with any form of touchpad either, but apparently some people will! I probably wouldn’t even let some of my friends and even family members touch it, let alone an animal!

        That scratch tower is beautiful. :)

  5. JPorretto

    Plain and simple…. Pets Rule. If I need something, I sit and think about buying it for a while. But if my dogs need something, I’m in the car without a second thought and my wallet has lost all its inhibitions.

    Great post!

    • Jen

      OMG! Jeff it’s so true. If I’m sick I tough it out. But if my dog is sick, I make a vet appointment immediately and drop $100 on meds.

  6. Cybernetic SAM

    OMG! I don’t normally like little dogs but I want to squeeze the crap out of Boo! That is the cute overload – my brain hurts after seeing him! As far as technology, I think it is not only neat but important not to forget our furry friends. People forget that animals get restless and stressed they need things other than walks with their people. I mean, as long as their interest holds, why not entertain them!? Joe, you are heartless: dogs are amazing! Look at how many stories there are about dogs who have saved their owners’ lives! Some day when you are in distress, don’t expect a k-9 to come to your aid. Great post! It was adorably delightful!

    • Jill Tooley

      Joe may not find dogs as cute as cats, but at least he doesn’t have a heart of stone like SOME guys I know… ;)

      • Amanda

        Boo is a cutie! Even though I prefer big dogs–we have a German Shepherd Rottweiler mix and she’s a great size, 80lbs. =) She’s super cute! I would get another GS/R mix again and again. And if we lived in the country, I’m sure we’d have at least 1 more. I’m still more of a cat person though–they’re easier to take care of and shed less than dogs. ;-)

      • Cybernetic SAM

        Yeah I should be grateful, finding a guy who likes any animal is few and far between (especially cats and guinea pigs). I blame society for instilling an overdrive of the “tough guy” syndrome and admitting things that are cute and fluffy are a sign of weakness. Here’s a big tip, men: Women love MEN that LOVE ANIMALS!!!

  7. Doc

    I agree with you, Jenna. Pet lovers (like myself) are absolutely NUTS!!!! We will spend whatever it takes on our pets. I spend more money on dumb stuff for my dog than I do on my girlfriend. I can’t count the amount of stupid dog sweaters I have that are now old dish rags because they never made it on my dog’s back. The bottom line is that pet owners are a a demographic that loves to spend money in every way possible and businesses should capitalize on this extremely lucrative market. Great post, Jenna.

    P.S. Jeff, everyone thinks their dog is the cutest. So, don’t try and pretend like your dogs are something special. I challenge you to a cutest dog contest with my little puppy!

    • JPorretto

      1) Puppies are not eligible…. unless against other puppies. Unfair advantage.

      2) I only have to prove to Joe that dogs remain cute, not prove mine are the cutest…

      3) Girlfriend? Fail. You put a ring on it…

  8. Jen

    My dog Roxy is the cutest ever! This contest is happening. Roxy and I are taking home the GOLD!

    • Amanda

      Yes! Cute dog contest at QLP! =)

      I will always think our dog, Boston, is the cutest. Even though I usually only call small dogs “cute”. Boston has more of an “awesome” look, I’d say. But still…she’s the best, all 80lbs of her!

  9. Amanda

    Great post Jenna! I love my pets (1 dog and 2 cats), but I am one of the ones that don’t get crazy about buying them things. Yes, they get treats and toys, but I would not let them play with my electronics or buy them sweaters, etc. I love them bunches, but I don’t go overboard. I know that a lot of people do though, which is fine, but I wonder how scratch resistant those iPads are too, Joe. Yikes!

  10. Lauren G.

    Sweet post! As an animal lover of all kinds, I love this! (I own 2 dogs, a cat and 2 fish. And if I had more money and space there would be a turtle and white tree frog in the mix :) ). I am a fan of Boo on Facebook because he is so adorable! Any kind of dog I just about love and that goes for kitties too! I hear of so many people adopting pets now and getting involved in saving them. Also knowing so many people with pets, that the industry would be silly not to market to us! (Except for Jill who needs guinea pigs ASAP!!) I’m going to sneak them in somehow…! Having a house full, anything that pertains to dogs, cats or fish I’m game. I just want an iPad for my cat! I don’t spoil them too much, but when I do, I go to town. If I won a million dollars, guarantee that a good chunk is going towards them.

    I am that crazy animal person who searches for dog or cat videos online quite frequently. If I had a Twitter account I would be more interested in following “animals” than humans. By the way, I agree with Jen, Roxy is a freaking adorable dog!! Please have a QLP cutest dog contest, with pictures please!

    I think that more stores and companies need to start getting pet owners involved. Have contests or giveaways with awesome pet-related trinkets. This would definitely make me go and check out what they have to offer. Having so many pets does drain my funds, but it’s worth it! So, if there’s giveaways or contests with free stuff I would definitely get involved! Great post!

  11. Bret Bonnet

    This has to be Sam’s favorite post of ALL time.

  12. Kyle

    Awesome post, Jenna. I totally agree with everything you mentioned. If a company wants to get my attention, put some puppies in a commercial.

    Oh and provide a quality product… Yeah that too… But don’t forget the puppies! :D

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