Businesses need pet friendly strategy

| July 16, 2019

Not having a Pet Friendly business strategy has become a significant disadvantage for cafes, restaurants and other retailers, according to previous prominent Equity Adviser and media commentator, now Managing Director of Pet Parking, Gary Huxtable.

“Certain trends indicate that Australian consumers are now bringing their dogs with them over 11 million times per week whilst completing errands and purchases. If you’re a café, small shop, or service business such as a hairdressing salon, and you don’t have a Pet Friendly strategy, you’re putting yourself at a significant disadvantage,”

Mr Huxtable points to the trend in not only a rise in dog ownership amongst millennials, but also on the behavioural patterns, when it comes to making purchase decisions.

“We’re seeing two clear trends here, one is that millennials are now taking their dogs for walks on up to 85% of days, whilst baby boomers sit at 69%. But more importantly, consumers are now taking their dogs with them on an average of 3.2 errands per week.” he stated.

“This equates to over 11 million times per week, that consumers are bringing dogs with them to complete errands and make purchasing decisions. If you’re not putting some serious thought into how you can make your business more inviting to pet owners, you’re going to see them walk on by.”

With most brick and mortar businesses are already facing significant headwinds from online only competitors, Mr Huxtable encourages business owners to use social media as part of their Pet Friendly strategy.

“You only have to spend a short time on Instagram to see that people love looking at pets, with many pet owners setting up their own Instagram accounts to keep people up do date with their adventures. Consumers are also looking for photogenic places to take these pets for content,” According to Mr Huxtable.

Some businesses have been able to signal their pet friendliness on social media with a lot of success.

“The Great Northern Hotel in Carlton, Melbourne is a great example. They’ve embraced the challenge, starting an Instagram page dedicated purely to dogs that visit the beer garden,” Mr Huxtable added.

The account has a few thousand followers with many Melbournians visiting just to get their beloved pet on the page.

Lux Foundry, another Melbourne based Café, has also released a Dog of the year award on social media, with the winner, being gifted free brunch for a year.

“There’s a great opportunity for brands to signal pet friendliness and generate some great content on social media. Even with our own brand, we’ve recently started curating a @brunchwithdogs Instagram page, which has seen high engagement rates”

The other suggestion would be to have dedicated area or areas for customers to park their pets, in a shaded area with a bowl of water. This can be done either inside or outside the shop.

The trends in place have lead to businesses of all kinds adopting Pet Parking, a device designed to temporarily park a pet, which is free from any protruding bars or hooks. Businesses on the cutting edge of this trend are setting up dedicated areas for customers to park their pets, to free up hands for purchasing decisions, or consuming food and beverages.

“originally the early adopters of the device were Veterinarians and Pet Professionals, including Major Chain Pet Stock and some RSPCA wellness centres. However over the last couple of years, we’re now seeing demand from businesses such as Cafes, Hairdressers, Mechanics, Doctors, and even tattoo parlours.” Mr Huxtable confirmed.

“It’s terrific to see, but we still have a long way to go to better incorporate pets into modern society. Many councils have been lagging on this issue, so the prospect of negative commercial outcomes for those who fail to act, is beginning to see businesses take the lead”