The pet grooming industry has witnessed formidable growth in recent decades which is clearly observed in the profound growth and sales of different pet-related product and service organizations. Furthermore, many small and medium enterprises have also accomplished promising and sustainable growth in the pet business over the past few years. It is also essential to consider the opinions of different industry experts regarding the pet industry which imply its security against the detrimental outcomes of recession. This factor is complemented by the present transitional state of the pet care industry.
The following report is intended to provide insights into the existing and future market opportunities for Groomers Limited, a UK based sole proprietorship dealing in sales of pet care and grooming products. The specific aspects which would be outlined in the report include an evaluation of the external operating environment for identifying potential trends in the animal grooming market using Porter’s five forces model as a reference, a profile of the typical buyers of the products of Groomers Ltd and the illustration of a competitor audit in the UK market. The final aspect that would be addressed in the report is the marketing recommendations for Groomers for positioning its products by using the 4Ps of the marketing mix.
The evaluation of the external environment factors in the animal grooming market would be done through the use of PEST analysis which would outline the political, economic, social and technological aspects of the external environment (Chernev, 2018). A summary of the emerging trends and the reasons for the same would also be insightful for a better understanding of the market. These factors are beyond the influence of any organization and they should tailor their business operations according to these factors.
Political factors in the UK market which are relevant to the marketing and business operations of Groomers Limited are primarily related to legislation and regulatory precedents. The variations in taxation regimes such as changes in VAT could be potentially influential on the profit margins from products (David, David & David, 2017). Animal safety regulations could be accounted as a double-edged sword since, on one hand, customers are assured of the standard of the products while on the other hand, it is possible to encounter losses in productivity and sales and subsequently market share. Import tariffs and trade barriers imposed by the different agreements with other countries could also be a major political intervention for Groomers Ltd (Dennis, Melewar & Mauri, 2016).
The economic environment in the UK market is profoundly noted for a large share of Millenials occupying significant positions in the labour market thereby implying the higher disposable income and purchasing power of the generation. Baby boomers are also expected to be the wealthiest generation until 2030 which is a promising factor for the pet care industry (Ethiraj, Gambardella & Helfat, 2018). On the other hand, the implications of trade barriers would also be notable economic factors in the external environment that can influence Groomers Ltd.
Social factors could be identified in the above description and pets are largely being treated as family members which can be explained as the ‘humanization’ of pets. The lifestyle of people also demands the presence of pets that could be trained appropriately and could act as promising social support (Felix, Rauschnabel & Hinsch, 2017). Pets are also preferred because for the physical activity that is associated with taking care of them. Regular exercise of pets is considered as an appropriate intervention in the lifestyle of many people
Technology and innovation have had a promising influence on almost every other industry and the pet care industry is no exception. In terms of product innovation, every new feature captures the attention of the customer and ensures higher sales for the organization. Furthermore, product innovation through the use of technology, research and development is responsible for increasing the range of products that are provided by an organization. This is a noticeable factor for building customer trust and loyalty (Foxall, 2014).
Technology has also facilitated promising opportunities in terms of addressing online sales of animal grooming products (Kumar & Reinartz, 2018). The other advantages from technological aspects in the external environment include ease of maintaining customer information database, monitoring employees’ work and the performance of the online store.
On the basis of these details, a reflection on the reasons for different trends in the animal grooming industry could be appropriate support for the environmental audit in this report. The foremost factor is the humanization of pets and their consideration as family and the different needs of the existing demographics as compared to the previous pet-related power purchaser such as baby boomers (McDONALD, 2016). However, the existing demographics do not have adequate financial resources for pets as well as the purchase of pet-related products and services. Digital purchasing has also taken the forefront in the pet grooming industry which implies the immediate need for transitioning to digital marketing, service and provision of products. Another notable trend in the external environment that would affect organizations is the emphasis on sustainability which is dependent on the strategic decisions that are undertaken by organizations in the context of the supply chain and product life cycle (Morschett, Schramm-Klein & Zentes, 2015).
Healthy and innovative products for specific areas such as healthcare, food and gear would be the key dominating factors in the preferences of new generation customers. Furthermore, it could also be noted from the environmental audit that the present consumer base demands considerate pricing as well as tech-savvy alternatives for obtaining products and services. These factors have to be taken into account for developing a suitable marketing strategy to cater for these environmental factors and company trends.
The analysis of target customers is an essential aspect for ensuring competitive marketing outcomes. Therefore, it is mandatory for Groomers Ltd to focus on specific traits of the customer base which could be leveraged for designing effective marketing campaigns that can meet the requirements and expectations of the customers (Proctor, 2014). The customer base of Groomer’s could be classified into two broad sectors i.e. B2B customers which include retail outlets and professional groomers with the other category including B2C customers which include domestic pet owners and both categories have a wide variation in their preferences and traits.
In the case of professional groomers, the primary preference is identified in the need for products suited for all breeds and a wider variety in the available products. The demands of quality presented by the professional groomers are identified in the need for innovative products that could make their work flexible and faster (Pu et al., 2017). The essential motivators for professional groomers are identified as price, the efficiency of products and consistency of supply.
The retail customers of Groomers Ltd in the B2B category are particularly characterized by higher demand for a wide range of brands from their consumers. The profile of consumers of the retail shops and suppliers includes people with higher education, single households and aged people with participants from the middle class as well as the upper-middle class of the society. Therefore, retail consumers demand products that could be suitable for all types of customers (Rodriguez & Sharma, 2018). The consumer profile of retail customers for Groomers is largely derived from that of the consumers of the former. The specific requirements of this target consumer group include diversity in the range of brands, reasonable pricing and cost-effective pricing as well as appealing offers. The quality demands of the retail customers of Groomers include brand awareness, regular supply and customer satisfaction as well as effective pricing.
The domestic pet owners’ category of customers that can be taken into account in the case of the B2C operations of Groomers could be characterized by higher disposable incomes. The group also includes pet owners with low to medium range of disposable income and on average they spend almost £95 on pet expenses every month (Tomczak, Reinecke & Kuss, 2018).
The demands of this customer profile include the quality of products available at reasonable pricing and accounts for improved hygiene. The essential determinants which are taken into account by this customer segment for making purchases include product efficiency, pricing and quality. Another prominent aspect searched for by domestic customers is innovation in the products which is perceived as novelty and a measure of sophistication thereby setting certain products apart from the competition.
Apart from evaluating the individual profiles of the target customers of Groomers, it is also essential to understand the purchasing decision process since it is most crucial for marketers. Insights into the purchasing decision process of target customers could help in finding out the specific areas where marketing intervention would be the most effective. These areas could be leveraged for the input of marketing information to customers in order to tailor their behaviour in favour of the concerned organization (West, Ford & Ibrahim, 2015).
This could be validated through the cognitive approaches for consumer behaviour. The purchasing decision is made through a series of events which is initiated by the recognition of a need for a product or service. The next step in the process is the exposure of the individual to an advertisement or marketing information such as a burger ad when an individual is hungry. The exposure is followed by the phase of analysis in which the individual evaluates different alternatives which could be suitable for satisfying the recognized need (Felix, Rauschnabel & Hinsch, 2017). The analysis is profoundly dependent on the previous experience of the consumer with similar products or the brand. Therefore, this stage is essential for the next step in the decision process i.e. reinforcement.
If a customer is satisfied with a specific product or service then they would associate the product or service or the brand with a favourable experience thereby developing the foundation for brand loyalty. In the case of Groomers Limited, the notable motivators which could drive the purchase decision-making processes of its typical customers include quality, range of products, flexible pricing, brand awareness, safety and hygiene and innovative products (Morschett, Schramm-Klein & Zentes, 2015).
The analysis of competitors of Groomers Ltd could be presented with references to the use of Porter’s five forces model depicting the general threats to the company and a description of the key competitors of the company in the UK pet grooming market.
Porter’s five forces model relies on the explanation of the levels of the threat posed by five distinct market factors which are the threat of new entrants, bargaining power of suppliers, bargaining power of buyers, the threat of substitutes and competitive rivalry (Dennis, Melewar & Mauri, 2016). In terms of the threat of new entrants, Groomers Ltd faces low threats due to various factors such as experience in the pet grooming product and service market, higher switching costs for customers, higher capital requirements and access to distribution channels.
On the other hand, specific interventions from the aspect of new entrants could be found in the entry of new competitors in domestic as well as from international markets. Furthermore, it has also been noted that organizations in the pet healthcare business are expanding business operations into the domain of clothing and toys.
The bargaining power of suppliers is determined by the concentration and switching costs of suppliers. In the case of Groomers Ltd, the bargaining power of suppliers is considered as a high force since there are premium brand suppliers such as Andis, Wahl etc and the switching costs of suppliers is also lower (David, David & David, 2017).
The bargaining power of buyers in the UK pet care market is profoundly higher owing to the lower switching costs, availability of low priced substitutes and the dependence on standardized products. The provision of various alternatives for online shopping and home delivery of products such as Christies Direct could also be accounted as a notable factor for increasing the threat from the bargaining power of buyers.
The threat of substitutes is prominently observed in the case of the concerned company in this report owing to the prevalence of standardised products in the market. The lower switching costs to substitutes as well as the willingness of buyers to purchase substitutes combined with their price sensitivity result in a higher force of threat from substitutes. However, the factor of humanization of pets could play a considerable role in minimizing the switching of customers to substitutes (Kumar & Reinartz, 2018).
Competitive rivalry is profoundly observed in the pet grooming industry in the UK with major players in the domain having a unique brand identity alongside diverse product and service offerings. The difference in products and range of services provided by various competitors is responsible for imposing a higher force of competitive rivalry.
Christies Direct is one of the formidable competitors of Groomers with dominance over the market share in the pet grooming industry with a total worth of £1.83 million. The company provides products for professional groomers and pet owners and has considerable strengths in the form of a wide range of products and punctuality in the delivery of products as well as facility of cost-effective deals through constant monitoring of the source price of products. The only downside to Christies Direct is the lack of any innovative products (Pu et al., 2017).
The retail giant Amazon is another strong competitor for Groomers as it primarily targets pet owners by focusing only on the B2C stream. Amazon also provides the appealing features of diversity in an assortment of product offerings, competitive pricing and timely delivery of products. The setback that can be identified in the case of Amazon is the higher shipping and delivery charges.
Animal Bargains is another competitor of Groomers which is noted for the strengths of providing round the clock sales over the phone along with the appealing range of products and free guidance on pet health. The company has the setbacks of not having a retail outlet and higher shipping charges.
Pet Planet is also a competitor in the pet grooming market in the UK for Groomers as it facilitates a diverse range of pet products and also has specialized brands of pet foods. The company targets both professional groomers and domestic pet owners with its unique and innovative product offerings (Rodriguez & Sharma, 2018).
On the basis of the evaluation of competition for Groomers in the UK pet grooming related product and service market, it can be concluded that the organization is subject to direct as well as indirect competition. The notable highlights that were perceived from the competition audit include references to the prominent threat of substitutes which could escalate the threat of new entrants and subsequently increase competitive rivalry in the market. Therefore, the key inference that can be derived in this context is to focus on innovative product development for catering for the emerging needs of customers in a cost-effective manner.
The marketing recommendations for Groomers Ltd would be based on the insights obtained from the evaluations made above in the report. The 4Ps of the marketing mix would be utilized for presenting a strategy for positioning the brand of Groomers for the present market situation and future opportunities.
In terms of product, brands could be highly reliant on a product for helping customers in identifying with a particular brand. Product is responsible for the creation of loyalty and trust among customers alongside establishing the brand name in the market. Furthermore, the product is responsible for increasing the power of the organization over its retailers. Therefore, it is essential for Groomers to focus on the development of differentiated products for specific market segments (Ethiraj, Gambardella & Helfat, 2018). For example, different products developed specifically for the Equine market that Groomers has entered recently. The advisable course of action, in this case, would be to enter into partnerships with different suppliers and engage in research and development for creating new products.
Pricing concerns are specifically significant in terms of establishing the position of a brand against its competitors. Pricing is considered a crucial element for ascertaining the quality of products and the factors which have a profound influence on pricing are the government regulations as well as distribution channels.
The recommendation for Groomers, in this case, could be directed towards negotiating with suppliers and distributors to add value to the product and reduce costs thereby making the products affordable. The facility of various bundle offers and discounts as well as coupon codes could also be considered as promising recommendations to determine to price for Groomers.
Place in the marketing mix refers to the distribution capacity of an organization and is considerably influential on ensuring the delivery of the right products at the right place at the right time. Customers should have a reliable and accessible source to get the products of Groomers. Therefore, in the short term, Groomers should engage in collaborations with more retail shops in the UK and institute a CRM framework and warehouse management system for monitoring the delivery of products to customers. This way the company could ensure flexible delivery of its products to customers within the required time limits. Groomers should have a long term objective of introducing their own stores and outlets that would be considered significant in reducing the costs that are added to the product in the existing supply chain. The use of research on consumer buying patterns would also prove to be helpful in obtaining insights into the places selected as favourable for shopping pet grooming products by consumers.
The promotion of Groomers would have to be addressed through an integrated marketing communications approach. The requirement for an integrated marketing communications strategy is perceived as a response to the need for reaching out to a diverse assortment of customer bases. The use of digital advertising and promotion could be profoundly effective in reaching out the domestic pet owners, primarily Millenials and baby boomers who are excessively associated with the internet for searching information related to products and services on various online platforms. Therefore, Groomers should introduce specific modifications to its website such as increasing the visibility of product offerings and the deals that are provided on the offers.
The partnership of Groomers with major retail outlets such as Tesco and Sainsbury could be helpful in realizing prospects of sales promotion and point of sales advertising. Sales promotion would have to be focused primarily on customer services and providing more value to the customer which can be accomplished through promotional offers on new products. Active participation in trade fairs and open as well as championship dog shows would also contribute productively to attracting patrons and enthusiasts as well as retail customers. Apart from these short term objectives, Groomers should also focus on developing brand awareness in order to sustain its presence among its competition in the UK pet grooming product and service market.
This would have to be accomplished through active consumer engagement with the brand that can be accomplished through a real-time understanding of consumer behaviour and reinforce the brand consistently. Provision of salesforce for providing extended customer service is also another recommendation that can help Groomers to promote its brand and ensure customer retention on the grounds of trust and loyalty.
The report evaluated the current and future market position of Groomers Limited which is a UK based pet care and grooming product, provider. The specific highlights of the report included the environmental audit, consumer audit and competition audit and the inferences of these evaluations were used for deriving recommendations for favourable positioning of Groomers in the UK market.
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