Bark, the DTC Dog Brand, Expands Into Health and Wellness

The first offering is a dental health product

Bright Dental will be available in Target, CVS and online. BarkBox
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Bark, the 8-year-old direct-to-consumer brand known for its dog subscription services BarkBox and Super Chewer, is entering into a whole new category: health and wellness.

To begin, Bark is releasing Bright Dental, a triple-enzyme dental chew and toothpaste. Beginning on March 1, consumers can buy the product in individual packs at Target stores; on March 27, they can do the same at CVS, a new retail relationship for the brand. The product is also available as a subscription offering for $30 a month (with a $5 discount for existing BarkBox subscribers).

Our mission is to make dogs happy, and our vision is to be the most dog-centric company in the world,” said Allison Stadd, head of marketing at Bark. “We knew at some point we’d have to have a wellness offering. [Bright Dental is] just a product we know is a category leader, and it’s never been done before.”

Unlike Bark’s other products like pet toys and treats, developing Bright Dental took more than a year, explained Stadd. To get started, Bark worked with Novozymes, a Denmark-based biotech company, to create a three-enzyme toothpaste to spread on a chicken-flavored dental chew. As part of the process, Bark also made sure to involve veterinary doctors in the development of the product, including language used on the packaging, to ensure the item still aligns with providing proper dog dental health. Later this year, Bark is hoping to obtain additional certification to ensure the product goes above and beyond.

“The very last thing we want to do in any of our categories is alienate our vets or do anything that suggests that dog parents should not develop close relationships with vets,” Stadd said.

For some BarkBox and Super Chewer subscribers, it’s not the first time they’re seeing Bright Dental. Bark texted subscribers about the dental chew and toothpaste in fall 2019. While the product sold out in 48 hours, Stadd said the Bark team learned it needs to expand beyond the initial chicken flavor, as many dogs are allergic to chicken. Moving forward, Bark is measuring sell through rates at retail locations and ecommerce, as well as retention rates to gauge how well the product is serving the market. The brand is also not using paid media for the launch, and instead focusing on “building one-to-one relationships with the customer,” such as running a contest for 10 free Bright Dental boxes.

As part of the rollout, Bark also commissioned a study with Kelton Global, surveying more than 1,000 dog parents to see how they approach dental care. Some of those findings is why Bark is entering the category: 47% of dog parents believe they don’t need to brush their pet’s teeth because they think a dental chew is enough, and 25% stating that tooth brushing is the worst part of owning a dog.

“A lot of dog parents are well intentioned but misinformed,” Stadd said.

@itstheannmarie Ann-Marie Alcántara is a tech reporter for Adweek, focusing on direct-to-consumer brands and ecommerce.