Animal Instincts

One of the pet-industry trends highlighted at last week’s virtual Global Pet Expo (see our newly posted coverage here) is consumers’ desire to treat their pets like family, purchasing them human-grade food, enrolling them in grooming and wellness services, buying them Christmas and birthday gifts, and the like. This tendency extends to clothing, pet beds, toys, leashes, and cleaning accessories, all areas where licensing plays a role.

Licensees exhibiting at the digital show illustrate this phenomenon:

  • Royal Animals, which holds the distinction of being the first brand to introduce puff coats for pets, has a licensing division and was promoting its new N.Y.P.D., F.D.N.Y., and U.S. Army coats, which mirror the real-life uniforms used by those services.
  • Rubie’s Pet Shop, a division of the human costume purveyor Rubie’s, has seen strong sales since its debut in 2016, it says. Pet owners want to share their fandom with their pets, and the company was touting its range of year-round pet apparel tied to licenses ranging from Wonder Woman to Star Wars’ Ewoks.
  • Carolina Pet Company illustrated the use of fashion and corporate brand licensing in pet furniture and apparel, showing its line of pet beds meant to coordinate with the purchaser’s home décor. This included its wide-ranging Pendleton line of pet furniture (and apparel), available under license from Pendleton Woolen Mills since 2015.
  • Petmate allows dogs and cats to emulate their pet parents through its extensive La-Z-Boy Pet line, which features pet furniture such as dog-sized fold-out sofa beds, chaises, orthopedic sofa beds, and elevated platform beds, all in human-like designs. The license was signed in 2018.
  • MultiPet has gone the pop culture route, prominently featuring its new license for a range of Lamb Chop dog toys. It also offers other licensed products ranging from Gumby to Mr. Bill and recently signed a deal with artist Debby Carman (via Surge Licensing) for Bowzers and Meowzers.
  • Fetch for Pets…, which focuses on licensed products, spotlighted a range of brands associated with fashion or function, from clothing with designer Jonathan Adler, to supplements with GNC, to shampoos, conditioners, deodorizing sprays, and sanitizing wipes with the likes of Arm & Hammer, Burt’s Bees, Wet Ones, Glad, and Martha Stewart. It also showed a broad variety of toys and apparel tied to entertainment/character and pop culture IP, with lots of products associated with Warner Bros. properties and Star Wars, along with others ranging from Rudolph to horror film It to Peeps.

In its virtual exhibitor booth at Global Pet Expo, which ran from March 24 to March 26, Fetch captured the humanization trend by explaining, “We believe that pets are family and want everyone in the home to experience the same fun, fashion, and convenience that humans do.”

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