Retail Marketing · Electrical engineering

If you invented a retail product for cats/dogs- how would you bring that product to market?

Mark Sendo Founder, CEO, Forbes Contributor, Conference Speaker, TechCrunch featured story twice

May 19th, 2016

I've invented a retail product that any household with a cat/dog should love.  But given my domain expertise is more as a technologist, my question are rudimentary.   What is the best approach for quickly ramping up sales?  Do I need a working prototype then approach pet retail chains? Do i use informercials?   Its my goal to have this product ready for this Holiday Season.

Paul Bostwick

May 19th, 2016

Check out one Simple Idea by Stephen Key Quick read. He knows the turf. Lots of stuff to cover in your question but the short of it is Licensing is the way to go... unless you really, really want to run an animal gear company The people who have already built such companies are very interested in getting more products to pump through their pipes Prototypes have the job of answering a question - and knowing what question you are answering guides the kind of Prototype to pursue: Including a NO prototype option. Im happy to talk it out to get you aimed. Get the to a bookseller. -Paul 510-872-8935

Jesse Pliner

May 19th, 2016

If I were to break your initial product dev down into stages:

Idea/Rendering: I would show this to retail buyers to get initial feedback and start the conversation. I would show it to end users and get their feedback and if positive try to start collecting email addresses of people who say they like the idea

Functioning Prototype: Depending on how this looked, I would either show it to the retail buyer in pictures or send him one to play with to get further feedback. I would also show him some packaging to get his feedback on that. If this prototype looked good, this can be used to launch a pre-order campaign. If you can make a few of these prototypes to can seed them out to reviewers/influencers and get some PR around your Pre-order campaign

Based on the feedback I get from the above would determine my next steps. I wouldn't be too concerned about showing end users your idea as most people aren't walking around looking for ideas to steal. As far as retail buyers or reps, generally, you can probably get an NDA in place with them but they might not sign it so early. I probably wouldn't let that deter me from getting the concepts in front of them.

Rill Hodari

May 23rd, 2016

I agree with the above folks who said start with the consumer but one thing everybody seems to have missed is the prevalence and agility of pop-up shops and holiday markets.  If your target is still the holiday season, that is a great time for pop-up shops, holiday markets and the like.  Be agile, bypass old, traditional channels to launch, use new ones.

Lane Campbell Lifelong Entrepreneur

May 19th, 2016

It's all about distribution.  Find some partners in the industry and see if they want to license the design from you for a small royalty.  I'd avoid trying to invest in a product like the plague, especially if you haven't done it before.  

Kenneth Friedman Sales & Business Development Executive: CSO/EVP/SVP ★ “Corporate Invigorator” ★ Expertise Selling into 20+ Industries

May 19th, 2016

The Pet Vertical is one of the fastest growing sectors at retail, E-tail and catalogue. There are approx. 25 plus key North America Pet retailers, franchises and even more e-tailers. There are also a good number of Distributors who take product into retailers from small to large. There are also a number of Pet Trade Shows to attend and exhibit and areas there to feature new product showcasing. Start with either targeting these retailers and going direct or hire Master Rep/Distributor Groups to get feedback on the product viability and interest. Before that happens, ensure the price points are workable and make recommendations as to where in the store the product should be placed. Do your homework as buyers and category managers are inundated with so called latest and greatest products and new vendors.

Dominick Pagnozzi Senior Sales, Market Development and General Management executive, experienced e-commerce and retail channel development

May 19th, 2016

Mark Sounds like it may be way too late for​ large retailers for this Holiday. Many of those guys already made their decisions on established ready for market products. For that channel you will need at least a working prototype, well thought out packaging concept that is consistent w shelf space allowed. You will also need to have your manufacturing figured out , your costs , the expected margins in your category, logistics, etc etc. Since you are a new supplier you may also need to prove that you can deliver timely and consistently and that you have some expertise in this channel and all those aspects of your business. You might want to manufacture a limited amount, make sure they work as designed, and then do a crowdfunding campaign. I understand that these campaign results are good barometers on how a product would be received in the broader market. Have a website for direct sales, get some PR and some social media going and springboard form there. There is a lot involved in creating a successful retail product no matter how good the concept is. I have participated in numerous of these types of new retail product efforts; In my opinion, Peter Thiel has a great book on the subject called *Zero to One: notes on startups, or how to build the future .* Good Luck Dominick Pagnozzi Pagnozzi Ventures, LLC 914-391-6398 www.linkedin.com/in/DPagnozzi skype:Dpagnozzi www.PagnozziVentures.Com

Chris Ross

May 24th, 2016

I would agree with Kickstarter. Kickstarter has a solid community of pet lovers. It's clear certain products do better on Kickstarter and pet projects typically do well. Assuming it's a good product and solves a problem of course. It's also a good way to see if your product has demand before investing significant money.

If you try Kickstarter, don't underestimate the need for solid marketing. Typically you will need to promote the hell out of it in order for it to be successful.

Patrece Bryan Product, Content and Communications Strategist, Communications Advisor at Apartment

May 20th, 2016

As a pet owner, marketer, and one who follows this category, I agree with those who said to start with the consumer, not your retail channel. You'll validate your concept with purchasers not retailers. And, I'd be cautious aboutoverseas manufacturing. Granted I live in CA, but I don't knknoe many people who'll buy pet products made outside the US. There is also a pivot happening from chain bet stores to local, boutiques. Get to know your market. Who will buy? At what price point? Where do they shop? Net: Let the market drive your development to ensure product market fit. Concept testing can be done with these folks in advance of a working prototype. Shelf space means nothing if your product does not sell.

Happy to discuss in more detail. Feel free to reach out. 

Mark Sendo Founder, CEO, Forbes Contributor, Conference Speaker, TechCrunch featured story twice

May 19th, 2016

Thank you all for the amazing feedback.  Deminick is spot on about begin too late for this Holiday season.   I've already received positive feedback with people in the industry.   the top 5 retailers (pet only) requested a picture of the product, not sketches, and a retail price points (3) with margins. that's all they need to make a decision.  A working prototype is imperative.. i have a few who offered but looking for partner to create asap.  please inbox if you want to join this team in helping launching the product.  

Chris Gorges Partner, Strategy at Rocketure

May 19th, 2016

Kickstarter or Indiegogo might not be a bad idea -- then buy Google / Facebook ads targeting pet owners / lovers.