Pet Age recently spoke with Bridget Richlen, director of sales and marketing at Exclusively Pet, the maker of dog cookies and other treats for even the most finicky dog.
Q Tell us about the history of Exclusively Pet.
A Exclusively Pet started in 1994, and was born out of a natural partnership. Bob Merar, president of General Pet Supply, joined forces with his friend, Larry, a professional in the baking industry. The two set out to create wholesome treats for dogs that were fun and resembled popular people snacks. The result was Exclusively Dog Cookies—delicious treats that are specially formulated for dogs but also celebrate the connection we have with our “best friends” and the opportunity we have to share a joyful moment with them. The Exclusively Dog line came later and provided treats that took allergen and special diets into consideration, while still maintaining the whimsical nature at the heart of our brand. Exclusively Dog treats are all wheat/corn/soy free, are mostly soft and chewy and offer your dog the same flavors you dine on.
Q What sets Exclusively Pet apart from your pet treat competitors?
A It’s now fairly de rigueur for pet food and treats to be natural and made in the USA, but Exclusively Dog Cookies and Exclusively Dog treats have always been made in the USA from natural ingredients. What’s more, we’ve never had a product recall. Lastly, we are confident in our treats and stand behind our products. We offer a satisfaction guarantee on every single treat and will replace the product or refund the cost, should any person and/or dog be dissatisfied. We want to remove that risk a consumer might feel in purchasing a treat, only to find out that Buster doesn’t care for it. Pets have palates, too, and we understand one treat is not going to please all dogs.
Q How has the pet treat industry changed since the company started in 1994?
A Growth, growth, growth! It’s amazing to see how many more options are available in all categories of the pet industry and to see how much more widespread pets are in people’s lives. Pets now go everywhere with us, we can seemingly buy pet products everywhere and our pets are now internet celebrities. We see this growth continuing, which creates both a challenge and an opportunity!
Q What are some of your most popular products?
A Our most popular treats include some classics and some of our newer items. I often hear from customers how our peanut butter sandwich cremes are “a must” before bedtime for many pups. The motion of licking the creme center is a soothing activity. This time of year, our Pumpkin Flavor Smoochers drops with yogurt are a huge hit. They smell absolutely divine, are made with coconut oil and the ingredients are grain-free. In addition, Smoochers are a great treat for dogs with lower protein needs, such as older dogs or dogs with kidney issues.
Q What has been your key to success?
A The key to our success has been to stay true to our roots while continuing to evolve with owners’ and pets’ demands. That doesn’t mean we’ll jump on the bandwagon of any trend. But as we all continue to learn more about nutrition and are exposed to new and worldly ingredients, we try to incorporate those learnings into our products. Our focus remains providing a natural product that is enjoyable and beneficial to dogs, while keeping prices reasonable and introducing treats that are fun and familiar.
Q Where do you see the company heading over the next 10 years?
A Growth and innovation is always our focus. We’d like to expand into treats for other animals, including cats. Currently, our treats have been known to be enjoyed by ferrets and pot-bellied pigs! We’re constantly working on new formulations for treats that capture our pets’ excitement and help our customers be the best pet parents they can be. We’ll also strive for more alliances with strategic partners and charitable organizations. I’d love to have a crystal ball to see what our packaging will look like in 10 years!