As a dog owner and lover, I’ve been saddened by the recent “Pet Food Crisis” which has resulted in the illness or death of potentially thousands of pets in this country.
From a marketing standpoint, the crisis has revealed to consumers that a majority of “high end” brands including Iams and Eukanuba (the largest customers of Menu Foods, the Canadian manufacturer of pet food containing tainted wheat gluten from China), are made by one company – quite a shock to consumers who thought they were purchasing a high quality, exclusive brand of food for their pets!
What’s really been interesting, though, is to watch smaller players in the pet food business grow their sales by some smart positioning in the wake of this crisis.
Blue Buffalo Company, a maker of pet food that is gluten-free, began a PPC campaign shortly after the crisis broke in the news, and according to the head of the company, Bill Bishop (one of the founders of SoBe beverages), sales are “through the roof and traffic to the brand’s websites are up ’50- or 60-fold’ since the crisis began. The ad campaign that was planned for later this year called “Feed them Like Family” was moved up in the schedule to start shortly after the crisis emerged (see the photo below).
According to AdAge, “Vladimir Fernandez, a Miami field distributor of Life’s Abundance pet food, which also bought Google search ads last week, said sales are up 300% since the crisis. Waggintails.com, an online retailer of specialty pet products, has upped its PPC budget and has seen sales climb more than 30%.”
This all serves to drive home a point I’ve been making for awhile – The Web has changed the game for all businesses – the opportunity that small business owners have to compete has never been greater.
Even though Proctor & Gamble’s Iams and Eukanuba brands bought search ads against their own brand names when the crisis broke (selecting negative keywords for searches on their brand, so that a search online for “Iams” would not produce results for “pet food recall” for instance), they were quickly overwhelmed by smaller players entering the market with their own PPC campaigns.
Smart small business owners know that using the web to get the word out about their products and services is powerful, and it’s never been easier to level the playing field with larger competitors than it is today, when the proper use of web strategies are put in place.