Nestlé Purina PetCare is unleashing Purina Pet Gear, a dog and cat accessories licensing program. The line is designed to take over aisle space where generic-brand pet toys, beds, bowls and odor products are sold at supermarkets and independent pet stores.
"It's a highly fragmented category -- [outside of pet food,] there are not a lot of brands playing in the space," said Rebecca Smith, director of new products and business development for Nestlé Purina PetCare. "We bring 80-years experience and expertise to that space and consumers trust in us. It's a natural extension."
Purina Pet Gear toys, leashes, feeding accessories and other SKUs will feature design innovations that cater to animals' needs. For example, a dog food bowl has a built-in spiral that forces the animal to eat slowly, thus reducing its tendency to become bloated. Set to launch this summer at Kmart, Albertsons, Safeway, Meijer, Stop & Shop and Giant, the sleek products were also designed with owners in mind. The line is color-coordinated and available in three palettes.
The deal has three initial licensing partners: Ethical Products (leashes, collars and toys), Bow Wow Pet (beds) and The oneCARE Co. (stain and odor products and rollers). A second wave of pet beds, collars, leashes and grooming aides will arrive this fall. At www.purinapetgear.com, products are classified by whether they stimulate, relax or clean dogs or cats.
The line will be communicated through cross-marketing with Purina products, via coupons, on Purina's Web site and through PR efforts. "live.love.play" is the tagline for the program. All items carry the brand's familiar checkerboard logo.
Currently, the petcare space is a largely unbranded category filled with an assortment of no-name, often untested brands. While pet products have been a hot area for character-licensing deals, most brands don't offer comprehensive care lines or have an authoritative name among consumers.
"People cut back on just about everything but kids and pets in tough economic times, and there's no known brand name for pet accessories -- Purina's perfect for it," said Michael Stone, president, CEO of the Beanstalk Group, Purina's New York-based licensing agency and the deal's broker. "Purina is already the leader in petcare. The idea here is to communicate it as a total pet solution."