Campaign Targets Indulgent Dog Owners

Posted on by Chief Marketer Staff

Heinz Pet Products, St. Louis, will send out samples of Pup-Peroni later this month. While Heinz has been making the dog treats for 10 years, the campaign marks the first time the companyhas tested DM promotion and database building within the pet product market.

The package, targeted at 150,000 “indulgent pet treaters” across the country, will consist of a self-mailer that has a sample of Pup-Peroni attached. It also has a 50-cent store coupon with a tracking number that links the coupon to a specific list.

The design is deliberately being kept simple. There is only one version of the creative-it shows a dog carrying a sign reading “Will Do Tricks for Treats”-and features only one offer.

All the names are prospects from outside lists. While Heinz has an internal database, the purpose of this campaign is to introduce the product and begin to foster new relationships with dog owners.

Research done by campaign designer DIMAC Marketing Corp., Bridgeton, MO, has both companies excited about the possible results. “We were surprised to see just how indulgent pet owners can be, especially for small (under 15-pound) dogs,” says DIMAC’s senior vice president Marcia Piacentino.

The profile of the smaller dog owner made those individuals an especially desirable audience. They are more likely to treat their pets as substitute members of the family, especially in households where there are no children, according to Piacentino. Households that had a history of buying doggy toys and treats were also regarded as good prospects.

The company will use several methods to evaluate success. A “significant sample” of the dog owners will receive follow-up calls. If Heinz finds, either by looking at coupon redemption or through evaluating follow-up calls, that 6% of the recipients purchased Pup-Peroni, the program will be considered “a serious home run,” says Piacentino.

Should that be the case, a second mailing, to between 600,000 and 750,000 prospects, would likely be scheduled.

The market is nothing if not fanatical. “More than half of them consider themselves to be mom or dad to their pet,” says Piacentino. “More than 75% give their pets holiday gifts, and about a third of them actually talk to their pets through the telephone answering machine when they are away from home.”

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