Sezzle - FInTech Tracker - September 2023

How a Farmers Market Experience for Pets is Driving Sales

Woof Gang, pet care, dog grooming, retail

Pet parents today have elevated their expectations when it comes to caring for their furry companions. Beyond mere ownership, pets are now considered beloved family members, and as such, their care and well-being have taken center stage.  

The changing landscape in pet care has brought about a significant shift in the demand for a more personalized experience when shopping for pet essentials and grooming services. This shift is not just a passing trend; it reflects a deeper connection between pet parents and their pets. 

In response to this shift, Woof Gang Bakery & Grooming’s CEO Ricardo Azevedo and CMO Diego Suarez have embarked on a mission. Their goal is to offer pet parents an unforgettable experience while also ensuring that pets eagerly anticipate their grooming sessions. In a recent interview with PYMNTS, Azevedo and Suarez discussed the details of this concept and how they plan to expand it to various regions throughout the country. 

“We all love our dogs so much, and when it comes to the shopping experience and serving society, there’s no way to survive in this industry if you don’t provide the very best. I think that really frames everything we do at Woof Gang,” Azevedo said. 

Azevedo emphasized that trust lies at the core of the Woof Gang experience. When pet parents place their four-legged companions in the care of a groomer or a store like Woof Gang, their decision hinges on trust. This trust goes beyond the realm of mere products, encompassing the quality of care, service and the sincere affection with which their pets are handled. 

Azevedo pointed out that Woof Gang’s services, specifically grooming, account for over 65% of their current sales. This figure stands out particularly when contrasted with larger pet care retailers, where grooming typically comprises just around 5% of their total sales.  

With that in mind, according to PYMNTS reports, pet retail chains such as Petco have been intensifying their focus on consumables to boost their business. Simultaneously, they are diversifying their offerings to encompass services such as pet health and grooming, aiming to provide a comprehensive and appealing experience for pet parents who are grappling with inflation and financial constraints. 

Read more: Petco Gets Paws Deep on Pet Essentials 

Recipe for Success

Although grooming constitutes a significant portion of Woof Gang’s business, the consumables component can be looked at as a strategic play. 

Woof Gang originally began as a dog bakery in 2007. However, Azevedo pointed out that they diversified their services to include grooming in 2012, which eventually became the primary focus of their business. Nevertheless, treats continue to play a vital role in defining their identity. 

“When you come to one of our stores, the first thing that you’re going to see is a beautiful treat table that is going to have amazing, decorated goods that look like they were perfect for humans,” Azevedo said. 

Azevedo also noted their emphasis on natural ingredients and quality, and their partnerships with brands that share their beliefs, ensuring a boutique experience that offers only the best products available. 

Another core principle at Woof Gang is the promotion of natural behaviors for dogs, such as chewing, which is intrinsic to a dog’s nature. As such, they provide an assortment of natural chews and toys to cater to these instincts.

Woof Gang takes this a step further with their “farmers market” concept, offering carefully curated selections of chews and toys, positioning them in a manner that allows dogs to interact and choose the items they prefer, creating a truly unique and engaging shopping experience for both pets and their owners. 

“The concept is a bakery with a highly upscale experience — our retail side is also very boutique,” said Azevedo. 

This style is also very intentional as it allows Woof Gang to avoid excessively large inventory that could overwhelm customers. Instead, they curate a selection of top-tier brands and products, eliminating the need for shoppers to navigate an extensive array of options. Woof Gang carries an array of food options from everyday meals to its bakery treats it’s known for. 

Azevedo also said that its store owners and staff also tend to know pet owners and pets by name — a minor but impactful element that enhances the overall shopping experience. 

Woof Gang’s Franchise Model  

Azevedo said that their franchise selection process, although thorough and time consuming, plays a pivotal role in safeguarding the core values of their brand and the integrity of their business model. 

After successfully navigating this rigorous selection process, franchisees receive support through a range of tools and technologies to facilitate the launch and management of their business. However, it’s important to note that one of the key criteria for individuals looking to open a Woof Gang location is their active involvement in their local community, as community engagement is a foundational and cherished value within the company. 

And to bring these stores to life, Suarez noted that the stores often leverage events to create engagement – Halloween and the upcoming holiday season is expected to be a big one. 

“Many of our stores host in-store costume contests for pets, and the level of cuteness in these contests is simply adorable,” Suarez said.  

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