Bark Breaks Into Treats With Cereal-Inspired Humor

Are you a dog owner who also happens to be nostalgic for the sugary-sweet cartoon cereals of days gone by? If so, sit up and beg: Bark is rolling out the Snack Pack from Bark, a line of dog treats fashioned after classic breakfast cereals. Each box looks like something from the ‘80s or ‘90s, including mascots and surprises. Varieties include Bark Frosted Socks, a yogurt and berry blend; Lucky Duckies, made from turducken, and Clucky Nuggy Yums, a chicken recipe.

Treats are not exactly a new category for the brand, says Dave Stangle, vice president of brand marketing for Bark. “Our Bark Boxes have different varieties and customizations of treats, so we've got 12 years of data. We know what people like and allergies they’re worried about.”

He tells D2C Insider that Bark is taking its treat game into retail because it sees plenty of opportunity. “Treats are a huge category and also a pretty stale one,” he says. “It’s crowded, but there are so many copycats. Because there is so much boring-ness, it's ripe for disruption.”

Many brands focus solely on nutritional components, “and they should,” Stangle says. “But that doesn't mean that you can't have fun, too.”

Catapulting dog owners back into the Cap’n Crunch, Count Chocula and Fruity Pebbles' mindset of their childhood, he says, will do that.

In addition to cartoon-ish packaging and toy accessories, “the shapes, textures and weights of these treats are fun. Other treats are like celery sticks; ours are like a bag of chips or something exciting. And even though they're still super nutritious, it just puts a lot more quality into a dull category.”

To coincide with the launch, the company is also releasing plush dog toy versions of each mascot, each with a storyline about dogs and their treats, sold separately. The product also includes a QR code, revealing the chance to win prizes.

This is the company’s latest move, not just into consumables but also expanding from its direct-to-consumer roots into traditional retail. The treats will be available at Target, and Bark’s website.

But like many other D2C companies, Bark’s transition to full omnichannel success has had potholes. In the results of its fiscal third quarter released last week, the company reported revenue of $125.1 million, down 6.9% from $134.3 million in the prior year's comparable period. And D2C sales sank 7.6% to $110.9 million.

Profitability improved, however, despite the company boosting ad and marketing spending to $25.1 million, compared to $21.7 million the previous year. The company trimmed its losses to $10.1 million from $21.3 million in the prior quarter, a 53% improvement. And Bark posted its best customer acquisition quarter in two years.

In more good news, the company announced it has regained compliance with the New York Stock Exchange. It had previously been considered noncompliant when its share price fell below $1 for more than 30 days, putting it at risk of de-listing.

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