Almost 90% of PetsSmart’s business is in pet supplies–that’s consumables like dog food and hard goods like collars. The services part of PetSmart’s business, such as grooming and boarding, is currently only a little better than 10%, but it has been growing faster and is less vulnerable to competition from big box stores like Target and Costco and from online retailers.
Small, boutique pet shops provide the bulk of pet grooming and boarding services. What might hold back PetSmart’s growth in grooming and boarding services? Pet owners believe that boutique shops offer more style and more personal attention than a large chain like PetSmart. PetSmart wants to change the way people think of PetSmart. They want the PetSmart brand name to spontaneously pop into pet owners heads when those pet owners are thinking of style and personal attention for their pet grooming and boarding.
Enter the fashion-forward dog owners and their fashion-forward dog. Rather than claim style and personal attention, PetSmart tells a story about PetSmart’s ability to meet the exaggerated needs of a caricatured couple who see their dog as an extension of their fashion-forward selves. The “doggy double take” description of the reaction of other animals to their dog’s last grooming is marvelous.
Competition in pet services is different from competition in pet supplies. PetSmart has found a way to memorably associate itself with style and personal attention by exaggerating the amusing tendency of pet owners to personify their pets.