Is Petco really a health and wellness retailer?
Health and wellness is a broad opportunity embraced by everyone from CVS to Lululemon and Whole Foods. Petco wants in on the action.
The pet chain announced it is rebranding itself as “Petco, The Health + Wellness Co” from the former “Petco Animal Supplies,” saying the shift reflects its “more than 55-year journey to becoming a health and wellness company.”
Among the steps on that journey was its decision in 2014 to become the first national specialty retailer to discontinue the sale of China-made treats following consumer concerns. In May 2019, Petco likewise became the first to stop selling dog and cat food and treats with artificial ingredients. As an essential retailer during the pandemic, Petco said it has “served as the grocery store, the doctor’s office and the pharmacy for America’s pets, delivering on its promise as a partner to pet parents within a dramatically changed landscape.”
The chain is planning an expansion of pet care services and resources to reinforce its amplified health positioning, including:
- Expanding its full-service in-store vet hospitals from more than 100 currently to over 140 by January 2021;
- New and expanded healthcare solutions, including its recently-introduced Vital Care annual insurance program that’s tied to rewards;
- A redesign of petco.com and the Petco app to support health and wellness resources including online appointment booking, curbside pickup and same-day delivery;
- A newly-launched digital “Right Food Finder” to help pet owners determine optimal foods for their pets’ nutritional needs;
- Completing the removal of artificial colors, preservatives and flavors from food for aquatic life and small animals such as rabbits, guinea pigs and reptiles by the end of 2021 following the completion of such standards for dogs and cats in 2019.
A major marketing campaign highlighting the chain’s evolution is slated for early 2021.
The rebranding gained heightened attention as Petco at the same time announced it was ending the sale of electronic “shock” collars and launching a #StopTheShock campaign to ban the devices altogether. Petco CEO Ron Coughlin said in a statement, “As a health and wellness company, our mission is focused on improving pet lives and we think selling shock collars does the opposite.”
- Petco Launches Revolutionary “Vital Care” Wellness Plan – Petco
- Stop the Shock: Petco Ends the Sale of Electronic “Shock” Collars, Firmly Establishes itself as the Health and Wellness Company for Pets – Petco
- Petco Opens 100th In-Store Veterinary Hospital; Celebrates Rapid Expansion Milestone – Petco
- Petco Rebrands as a Health and Wellness Company for Pet Parents – Adweek
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Is Petco’s positioning as a health and wellness retailer spot-on or only confusing to consumers? Is the health and wellness opportunity for pet chains most similar to grocery, drug stores or another retailing vertical?