What is it about cats? People love them. In fact, they can’t get enough of them—especially online. Cats are all over the internet. They star in viral videos and make any meme an instant hit. Some cats, such as Grumpy Cat and Taylor Swift’s two cats, Meredith and Olivia, have even become household names after finding internet fame.
“For me, the humor comes from the inherent independence that cats have,” PetSafe category manager Ryan Anderson said regarding why people, particularly those on the internet, love cats so much. “Dogs can often be trained to do tricks, but it’s a cat’s world, and we are just living in it. Any video that catches a cat doing something candid is automatically more funny, cute and/or engaging because it usually isn’t prompted.”
This obsession that people have with cats has certainly not gone unnoticed by companies that make cat products. In fact, many, including Anderson’s PetSafe, are getting in on the hype, using the current cat craze to their benefit.
PetSafe launched a “Catspiracy” campaign for its ScoopFree Self-Cleaning Litter Box, which automatically rakes away cats’ droppings after the cats relieve themselves. The video humorously portrays cats as believing that their excrement is “mysteriously” disappearing because their owners find the feces “valuable” and are collecting it for other reasons—not because of the litter box’s self-cleaning mechanisms.
“The concept for the satirical ad was to capture the fun and humor that many cat parents experience on a daily basis,” according to Anderson.
The concept worked, with Anderson stating that the ad became a hit on the internet.
“From a digital perspective, it was one of the most successful campaigns we have ever run,” he explained in an email. “We didn’t go into it with the mindset of, ‘We are going to make this great ad.’ Instead, we kept our goals simple. We just wanted people to watch, laugh and share. We found a great agency to partner with—Humanaut—and the people responded. The campaign has gotten 12+ million impressions, 2+ million engaged views and over 65,000 shares. The “Catspiracy” video is available for viewing on the Pet Age YouTube channel.
“We are continuing to find new ways to keep pushing the content to keep it alive,” he added. “At the end of the day, it has introduced new people to PetSafe Brand and our ScoopFree Self-Cleaning Litter Box. And it has started a lig
hthearted conversation about why we still clean up after our cats on a daily basis.”
Neon Litter is another company that is using the internet’s cat hysteria to its advantage. Tom Atyeo, Neon Litter’s vice president of marketing, said the idea for the brightly colored cat litter came to fruition after his millennial daughter kept sending him YouTube and Facebook videos of cats. Then she started sending him comical pictures of cats in sunglasses. Atyeo took the concepts of funny cat videos and of cats wearing sunglasses and, with his team, created a brand for Neon Litter that is all about the fun side of cats. And yes, the company’s packaging does in fact feature a cat in sunglasses.
World’s Best Cat Litter, maker of high-performance natural cat litters, combined people’s love of the internet and cats with the game “PURRRSUIT.” According to the company, “‘PURRRSUIT’ challenges cat lovers to ‘pet’ animated cats to make them purr. By keeping all the cats happy, players advance through the levels.” The game, which was made available online and through iOS and Android apps, was made in an effort to have the company reach its 2016 GiveLitter campaign’s donation goal. As players advanced in “PURRRSUIT,” GiveLitter donated more litter.
Billions of people from around the world use the internet, and when you take a look at the number of pet owners—specifically cat owners—who use the internet, it makes sense why these manufacturers are using the internet to get customers’ attention.
According to the 2015-2016 American Pet Products Association (APPA) National Pet Owners Survey, 91 percent of all pet owners and 91 percent of cat owners said they used the internet as a leisure activity within the last 12 months. This number is up from the 74 percent of cat owners who reported using the internet as a leisure activity in 2010.
In fact, cat owners spend 3.1 hours online a day, APPA reported, and aside from browsing a store, the most common way a cat owner finds out about a product is through the internet.
APPA also found that the millennial generation is the age group that owns the second most amount of cats. Within that generation, on average, two cats are owned per household. The level of cat ownership millennials have is only surpassed by baby boomers, who have 2.1 cats per household.
Compare this level of ownership to the people who use the internet the most. Millennials spend the most amount of time online—3.4 hours a day. Fifty-four percent of them receive information regarding cats from online, while 42 percent of Generation Xers and 39 percent of baby boomers receive their cat information from online. As the internet’s biggest users become the majority of the cat owners, it is clear how important communicating via the internet will be in years to come. And in all, the number of cat owners who receive their information from the internet has increased by 10 percentage points—from 32 to 42 percent in 10 years.
Like PetSafe, Neon Litter and World’s Best Cat Litter did, pet retailers are also realizing just how imperative tapping into people’s internet obsession is.
Dogs & Cats Rule, which has two locations in New Jersey and two locations in Pennsylvania, is an example of a pet retailer that uses the internet and social media to its advantage.
“We are an independent, family-owned company, so we’re going up against a large internet presence, so we truly value our customers who shop in independent stores,” said Vince Fahringer, manager of Dogs & Cats Rule’s Princeton, New Jersey, location. He added that the internet and social media are “very important” for the store. “Every day we are always looking to try and build our social media base because the more followers that we have is just a better marketing tool for us.”
In addition to an active social media presence, Cats & Dogs Rule has an official website that it consistently updates. Not only does the store post its promos around the store, but it also posts them on the website—as well as sending out an email to its email subscribers. Dogs & Cats Rule also has its own blog.
“[The blog] is the easiest the way for us to communicate all of these different products. It’s a great venue for us to get information out there,” Fahringer said. “It’s just a great, informative resource.”