Tell the truth… did you look at the photo of the puppy that accompanies this column before you started reading it? You were probably saying to yourself, “Aww… what a cute puppy.”
Some of you bonafide (pun intended) canine lovers were probably using baby talk, and mentally communicating with the pooch. “Hey there you fuzzy guy, whatcha doin’, huh? Whatcha doin’? You’re a good little boy aren’t you? Yes, you are. Oh yes you are.”
Don’t be embarrassed. You’re among the millions of other Americans who have fallen for these four-legged friends.
Increase of Americans With Dogs
According to statista.com, there were 68 million dogs in households across the U.S. in the year 2000. In 2015, that figure jumped to 78 million. Forty to fifty million households have at least one dog.
There are lots of theories on why there has been such an increase in the dog population, while the human population rate in the U.S. continues to decline. Is it cheaper and easier to raise a puppy instead of a child? Do some couples view a puppy as a replacement for child? You would hate to think so, but it certainly looks like those families who used to have two or three kids are now opting for just one or two, and filling in the gap with one or more dogs.
Some of you shudder at the thought, and I’m right there with you — probably because of my older, fairly traditional upbringing. But to many people, it just makes sense. A dog makes a great companion; it can be a good friend and frankly, just a lot of fun.
Why We Should Talk To Dog Owners
Regardless of the reasons for this canine ownership phenomenon, we marketers would be smart to use the dog-loving nature of consumers to our advantage if we can.
One way to do that is to sell dog and pet products and services directly, of course — and there are certainly plenty of choices out there, with more coming online every day. Besides the usual food, grooming products and vet services, there are some new and unique products that may surprise you.
For example, there are dog-treat bakeries in many cities, and your best friend can now enjoy those treats while watching The Dog Channel on TV. You can get your canine companions in to see a dog psychologist, take them for a ride in doggy strollers, bring them to the new dog park wearing their fitness-tracking dog collars, and even get them a dog tattoo.
Or, you can be like me and just use canine-related images and themes to connect with your market. For example, I often give presentations that include some slides. Whenever possible and appropriate, I work in a photo of a cute puppy or group of puppies. It always grabs attention and gets people in a good mood. As you see, I used a puppy photo to grab your attention for this column.
Psychologists suggest that photos of puppies release endorphins, so looking at a picture of puppies actually makes you feel good.
So if you have an idea for a new product or service for dog owners, the time may be right for going to the Shark Tank, looking into crowdfunding, or finding some investors to help you launch. But even if you just have a good and appropriate reason to connect a dog photo or canine theme to your existing products or services, our dog-crazy country will probably welcome it.
Whether you are selling dog-related products and services or just using them in your marketing, it’s a good bet that you are barking up the right tree.