retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

The Los Angeles Times has a story about how “Petco is opening a new kind of retail store where animal-friendly amenities such as dog baths, play yards and treats fit for humans are meant to win over picky pet owners who would otherwise snub the mainstream brand.”

The new 12,000-square-foot pilot format near San Diego, called PetCoach, puts grooming and dog day care front and center in the experience, which lays out this way:

“Upon entry, customers will see the animal hospital on their left, where resident veterinarian Christie Long presides over a clinic that can handle 90% of standard vet services, save for surgical emergencies. To the right is the grooming section visible to curious onlookers, along with an adjacent self-wash room with all the amenities that allow for a proper dog bath. In the center, a full-scale dog daycare and training facility will watch over pets and teach them to mind their manners.

“Toward the back of the store, a curated selection of vet-vetted food is punctuated by a JustFoodForDogs pantry. The refrigerated section represents the first fruits of an extensive human-quality food partnership announced in May with Los Alamitos-based JustFoodForDogs.”

The company says that PetCoach is designed to appeal to the pet snob, a demographic that has helped drive the pet food category to more than $29 billion in sales.

While only one PetCoach exists at the moment, two more are on the drawing board, with the possibility of a selective national rollout if things go well.

Two particularly Eye-Opening things here.

First, PetCoach is the result of a Petco acquisition - the company bought the PetCoach app about a year ago, and then put its founder in charge of new initiatives. Sometimes, new blood cam bring new perspectives and define new opportunities.

Second, I think this reflects something that we talk about a lot here on MNB - the importance in the current competitive environment to be more than just a source of product, and become a real resource for shoppers.
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