With 12.5m dogs living in the UK, equal to 1 in 3 British homes owning a pooch, dog treats, food and accessories are big business and it’s booming! Since the pandemic, dog ownership is up a massive 28%, but it’s not just lock-downs and stay-at-home pet parenting that’s driving the boom. Long-term trends in the ‘humanisation’ of pets are driving up consumer spend as many turn to premium, grain free and 100% natural options.
Founder, Richard Marles, writes: Three years ago, my wife and I bought a puppy and like 75% of millennials who take on a dog, we didn’t see ourselves simply as ‘dog owners’, we became ‘Pet Parents’. Penny, our golden lab, became our fur-baby and our world changed. A few months into parenthood we went away and left Penny with the in-laws for the weekend. When we returned, Penny was bloated and appeared in discomfort from what she’d been eating. The cause of her discomfort was a major brand of dog biscuits. Upon reading the label, I remember feeling shocked by the long list of vague ingredients and that’s when I though “We can make something far better than this.”
That was the ‘lightbulb moment’ that inspired the creation of Park Life, the range of Naturally Junk-Free Dog Treats. It’s been a few years in research and development, but May 2021 saw us secure our first major listing in Jollyes Pet Stores. This year we will be rolling out the full range of dog biscuits and long-lasting chews into pet stores and garden centres across the country.
There is a huge opportunity for Garden Centres to get in on the growing pet sector action by expanding their offering. With 90% of Pet Parents treating their pooches at least once a week, and 2/3 treating them every single day, treats are a natural place to start. A huge number of Garden Centre visitors also have dogs, so it’s no surprise that 70% of garden centres already have a pet offering. Treats are often an impulse purchase, so we recommend placing them at the checkout to maximise sales. If your garden centre has a dog-friendly café or coffee shop, even better! 40% of pet parents would buy dog biscuits for their pooch if they were available on the menu!
Throughout my career in FMCG marketing, I’ve always been guided by consumer insight, which is why in the early sage of developing PARK LiFE I spoke to over 400 pet parents to gather their feedback. I found that biscuits and dental chews are still the most popular treats, chosen by around half of all dog owners. When choosing treats, 2/3 of pet parents said they were looking for 100% natural treats with almost half stating that they were looking for treats with no hidden junk.
These insights inspired what we now call the PARK LiFE “Happy Belly Promise”, meaning that our treats will always be 100% natural, grain free and gut friendly. In fact, our biscuits are baked in small batches with just a few simple store-cupboard ingredients and are so wholesome even humans can eat them.
My vision for PARK LiFE is to become the most loved brand of treats among pet parents and their fur-babies. In 10 years time, I’d love for PARK LiFE to be a household name on UK and Irish shelves and further afield!