CRM For Pets!

How Much is that Doggie in the Window?

It’s pretty much a given – pets are big business. The American Pet Products Association (APPA) industry trends report predicts that US households will spend just north of $50 billion on pets in 2012. Increasingly, businesses in the pet sector are finding success using customer relationship solutions to build customer loyalty and attract new buyers.

Over $7 Billion a Year in Pet Food

Dick Van Patten, a comic actor baby boomers might remember best for his lead in the 1970’s TV series Eight is Enough, began Natural Balance Pet Foods in 1989 with the intention of “developing the best natural pet food on the market.” Today his products are sold globally to an expanding consumer market of pet owners with a lot of buying power – according to a study on ibisworld.com, the pet store industry has pulled in $14.7 billion so far in 2012, with 58% of that coming from pet food sales. That’s a lot of chow, and a lot of loyal customers to curry. To accomplish just that, Natural Balance has signed on with SugarCRM, one of the leading customer relationship management companies.

Natural Balance needed a solution flexible enough to be tailored for the pet sector, across a worldwide landscape and, according to SugarCRM “to provide the ultimate customer experience.” When your ultimate customer is someone’s dog or cat, their ultimate experience is the food – do they eat it, or turn up their whiskered noses at your offering? There are a lot of foods that pets will eat – certainly dogs show little discretion, although cats can be fussy – so a key goal of the CRM is to create an emotional bond between the company and the pet owners that differentiates one brand from another. The ibisworld report concludes that pet sales are driven even during tough times by “an increasing number of ‘pet parents’ – pet owners who treat their four-legged friends as family members” and want to indulge them with purchases like all-natural and organic pet food – a good trend for Dick Van Patten’s product line.

CRM Aimed at a Market that Reaches 70 Million Homes

According to the American Pet Product Association survey, 62% of US households own a pet, and pet ownership has been growing slowly but steadily for the last two decades. 76% of dog and cat owners consider their canine or feline companions to be part of the family. 72.9 million American homes are homes with pets, and a CRM that interacts with the owners by sharing a passion for these pets, can grow customer loyalty. The big pet store chains are all crafting loyalty programs now as a facet of their CRM solutions, offering discounts and personalized sales opportunities based on customer purchasing habits.

According to a recent article on petbusiness.com, the most popular loyalty perk is “a discount at the register. There are many subsets of these loyalty programs designed to target different types of subscribers, including relationship marketing, database marketing and reward-based programs.” Leslie May, founder of Pawsible Marketing, a firm that helps pet businesses build their brands, notes, “As pet lovers increasingly become concerned about the health and safety of what they purchase for their pets, brand loyalty and customer loyalty programs involving continuous and evolving communications are key to keeping customers.” That’s what CRM does best, and in the pet sector, customer relationships become even more important, because pets are a part of our emotional lives, where our hearts sometimes lead our sales decisions.

By Leslie McCreath – Inside CRM
photo credit: Natalia Romay via photopin cc

 

CRM in Hollywood!

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The Walt Disney Studios job board has a new listing – Supervising VP of CRM (Customer Relationship Management). According to the listing, the key job responsibility of the VP will be to best leverage marketing campaigns and materials to engage consumers, drive increased global theatrical box office and long-term consumer loyalty to the Disney brand. The VP is also tasked with designing and executing an integrated social media/CRM strategy.

How important is customer relationship management to the movies? If a feature film doesn’t open big on its first weekend, it usually doesn’t get a second push. Theaters don’t hold over a film that performs poorly its first week, so movies, to survive, have to create a relationship with their customers quickly. Accordingly, just before every major feature film release, studios saturate the market with ads, spending often as much as half of what the film cost to produce.

It’s All about the Hype

These ads are aimed at creating and increasing brand awareness of the studio involved but, more so and primarily, for the specific film, because moviegoers are loyal, not to the studios, but to their favorite stars, directors and multi-film franchises like the Harry Potter series. Ads are targeted at creating an engagement with fans powerful enough to drive ticket sales that first critical weekend.

To help build the “buzz” for a movie opening, every major film is preceded by a web site designed to engage moviegoers early and pull them into a relationship with the film by focusing on the cast, behind the scenes of the production and even providing interactive elements for the fans. Over the last few years, studios have also added “social” to their CRM to help sell tickets by enhancing the personal and social experience around the film. Film companies are partnering with social media venues like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Tumblr to broaden their appeal . How influential these social efforts are, is still to be determined.

Does Social Drive Ticket Sales?

A survey by Ipsos MediaCT’s Motion Picture Group indicates that 42% of moviegoers under 35 check with social media to see what friends thought of a movie before going. Conversely, a recent article in the Los Angeles Times reported that, “films are considering cutting their spending on Facebook ads, just as carmaker General Motors Company did last year, when it dropped an annual $10-million Facebook campaign, deciding the ads didn’t help sell cars.” The studios’ love affair with Facebook may have become less passionate when Facebook changed the algorithms that determine what users see in their news feed, making it less likely that fans would see messages from the films they “liked.” Even so, you won’t see a movie released without its Facebook page.

So, does social involvement sell tickets? A survey of social network users ages 13 to 49 from The Hollywood Reporter and Penn Schoen Berland reported that more than half of the respondents believe “social media sites are important tastemakers in determining what to watch.”

Whatever the power of tools like Facebook or Pinterest to drive ticket sales opening day, they can’t sustain a growing box office. No volume of “likes” can make an audience like a film. Social media can extend the conversation around a movie, but the nature of the conversation will always depend on how good the film is. Just like a great cast, a great CRM can’t overcome a bad script, but it is essential to marketing the good, the bad, and the ugly.

By Leslie McCreath – Inside CRM
photo credit: Disney ABC Television Group via photopin cc