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The Big Survey

PETS+ Big Survey: Retailers Reveal What Is — and Isn’t — a Dealbreaker with Brands

These results may surprise you!




Editor’s note: In our first-ever Big Survey, we asked independent pet retailers and service providers to answer 69 questions about how they do business and the industry itself. These owners and top managers — 520 to be exact, from across the U.S. and Canada — shared all in the anonymous survey conducted online from mid-August through October.

When indies love a brand and it expands into big e-commerce sites and/or big-box and grocery stores, some retailers express their displeasure — loudly. We always wondered if they represented the majority of independent pet retailers or if they were just the most vocal about the issue. So we asked about it in our 2022 Big Survey.

The majority of indies surveyed don’t see product availability on Chewy and Amazon as a black-and-white issue when evaluating brands. Instead, 55% of you look at a variety of factors.

  • It would depend on the retail, my cost and the company. Do they enforce MAP, and do they support indies in another way like with Astro or frequent-buyer programs not available on those sites? Basically, it comes down to whether we can compete.
  • If it sells better in a demo-type situation, I will bring it in.
  • Depends on the item and how much traffic it drives to our store. If it drives a ton of traffic, we’re OK with it being on Chewy as long as the prices are comparable to our desired margin.
  • We are in a small town, and often people come in and ask about products sold online. I don’t want to send customers away, so I stock some things you can get online.

Some respondents — 28% of you — said they don’t see brands being on big e-commerce sites as a dealbreaker at all.

  • I don’t consider the sites to be competitors. Their advertising, in fact, helps me sell products because then they’re recognizable. I can’t match their price point, but we make up for it in other ways.
  • If I didn’t carry a good product in my store because it was on other e-commerce, I wouldn’t have many things to sell.

But 15% of you give a hard pass to such products.

  • It can often cheapen the perceived value because low cost is often associated with low quality, and many people think of Amazon and Chewy as low-price leaders.
  • If I am deciding between two similar products, and one is on Amazon or Chewy and the other isn’t, I will definitely choose the one that isn’t.

As for availability in big-box and grocery stores being a dealbreaker, “Maybe” still led the results with 45%, but more respondents — 25% — answered “Yes” than to the same question about big e-commerce.

  • If I see a product that I carry in Home Goods, Marshalls, TJ Maxx stores, I won’t carry that brand.

Finally, many said they also won’t necessarily kick to the curb a brand that starts in independent pet retailers and then expands.

  • If a brand is sticking to their MSRP/MAP on Chewy, we can stay friends.
  • If the manufacturer continues to actively support and promote the indie/neighbor- hood pet channel, we won’t discontinue a product unless the sales tank.

See the answers to all 69 questions in our November-December issue, mailing out Nov. 15. A big thank you to the American Pet Products Association for sponsoring our inaugural survey!



NASC Media Spotlight

At first it was just an idea: Animal supplements needed the same quality control that human-grade supplements receive. But that was enough to start a movement and an organization —the National Animal Supplement Council — that would be dedicated to establishing a comprehensive path forward for the animal supplements industry. In this Media Spotlight interview, NASC’s president, Bill Bookout, talks to PETS+ interviewer Chloe DiVita about the industry today: Where it’s headed, what’s the latest focus and why it’s vital to gain the involvement of independent pet product retailers.

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