PetSmart Rides On Tails Of Humanization

PetSmartIt’s not just humans who are eating better foods these days. Their pets are, too, and that’s why PetSmart is venturing into bison and venison with its premium foods line.

“Parents are feeding their pets better food. We just see that,” PetSmart CEO David Lenhardt told analysts at the Goldman Sachs Retail Conference. “Pets are living longer. Pet coats are better. Feeding pets with ever-improving food is a trend that just keeps continuing.

“A few years ago we’d never dream of feeding our dogs [bison or venison]. It benefits the pet’s life and we’re beginning to see that on the cat side of the business.”

The continued humanization of pets is behind PetSmart’s move to align its products and services with those occurring in the human world. Sales are projected to grow 3% to 5% this year and continue that trend over the next year.



It’s not just better eating, dressing and pampering. Human utility brands, too, such as Shout stain remover and OFF flea and tick spray, are resonating well with the PetSmart customer, he says.

Such offerings as professional grooming, day camp, and full-service veterinary under one roof attract the “best pet parents in the industry,” Lenhardt added. PetSmart, he said, has a 15% share of pet products and 15% share of pet services, representing plenty of room for growth.

Fresh new products and new experiences are key and technology is increasingly important, he said.

PetSmart launched a real-time online inventory system three weeks ago allowing customers to check product stock before heading to the store. A website upgrade is also in the works to simplify navigation and make shopping online as much a brand experience as the store. That will be followed by the ability to order online and pick up at the store, he said.

PetSmart recently entered into a three-year engagement with eBay-owned GSI to upgrade its shopping experience.

Grooming is proving to be very resilient despite the economy, Lenhardt said.  For instance, the “spaw” package includes a GNC very berry nose cream and flea and tick products can be applied onsite.

New launches such as the Bret Michaels“spaw” package featuring a “rockery spritz” brings a “freshness and excitement we know our salon customers want,”  he said.

PetSmart is also preparing an online ordering system for its spa and grooming services -- once again introducing capabilities pet owners are familiar with for booking their own pamperings. Its loyalty program represents 80% of sales, and includes 18 million active Pet Perks customers and another 12 million who are enrolled, he said.

The company is also testing smaller micro-stores targeting areas with no direct competition. Currently, there are 1,650 PetSmart stores in the U.S. and Canada.

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