5 Innovative Insights From Our Work With Mars Petcare

There might be more to learn from dog food than you think.

When we teamed up with Mars Petcare to help launch their DTC disruptor brand, Puppo, we learned a thing or two about taking an industry leader’s existing assets, looking for other ways the puzzle could be pieced together, and turning it into something fresh that meets consumers where they are. Since then, we’ve worked with Mars across their portfolio of pet food brands, including Cesar and Iams. Here are a few of the lessons we’ve learned along the way—and how they can be used by more than just pet brands.

1. Experience design is king.

The in-store shopping experience that’s existed for generations has influenced everything from the customer journey to the product packaging itself. When we worked with Mars to launch Puppo, we quickly learned that when one part of the shopping experience changes (in this case, selling DTC instead of in-store), the rest of the experience probably has room for innovation as well.

So as part of the evolved shopping experience, we helped Puppo with a packaging redesign. We took the bulky, hard-to-carry traditional dog food bags that are built to be stacked on shelves and replaced them with sleeker, smaller bags that are easier to lift. We even added personal touches with the pup’s name and photo.

2. Market the problem.

In our research for Puppo, we discovered that messaging focused on helping creates a sense of urgency to act (think: “let us do the thinking for you”). Help-based messaging also drives revenue—in fact, it leads to 20% more commercial benefit than messaging focused on getting to know the brand (it’s that important).

We focused messaging on helping dog owners easily find the right nutrition plans for their pups, while highlighting a condensed checkout experience and a “no regrets” cancellation policy. This positioned Puppo as a trusted partner who understood customer’s problems, and it ultimately increased Puppo’s checkout and purchase rates.

3. Communication is a 2-way street.

When it comes to creating experiences, the consumer is at the core of all strategic decisions. That means reaching them where they are-—not the other way around. We gathered consumer insights about how Puppo’s target audience wanted to be reached and found out that 1-to-1 messaging was preferred. It provided an easy way for customers to communicate their needs and let the brand add a personal touch. By including a natural language AI-enabled text feature, we not only gave a voice to the customer, but also humanized the brand. Any questions about ingredients, portions or dietary restrictions could be answered quickly, conveniently, and authentically.

By including a natural language AI-enabled text feature, we not only gave a voice to the consumer, but also humanized the brand.

4. Create a sense of place.

Really consider what the reality of your customer’s experience with your brand is like. How do they consume or engage with your product? Capture that. Our research for Puppo led us to the insight that they needed to construct a stronger sense of place, or a perceived environment associated with their brand. For Puppo, that meant literally including more visuals of humans experiencing the reality of being dog parents.

Nailing that perceived environment establishes authenticity and conveys empathy—you understand the realities of your consumer, and are therefore equipped to better solve their problems.

5. Let the data speak.

You’ve done the grunt work of creating a product that fulfills a consumer need and adds value to the lives of your target audience. Don’t just use all that data and research to help you nail down a winning strategy—incorporate it straight into your external messaging to help you sell.

Puppo has a huge competitive edge in its data-backed process to make its consumers' lives easier and their dogs’ lives healthier. That needed to become a bigger part of the brand’s story. Using that unique, science-based process as an anchor helped position Puppo as a one-of-a-kind player in its market—a partner that’s committed to solving real pains and getting to know customers on a personal level.

Check out the full Puppo campaign here.

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