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Your Best Customers

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Editor’s letter as published in the March 2013 issue of Pet Age.

Whether it is designer shoes and handbags, or kitchen appliances and countertops, most women love shopping,

It might be an unfair stereotype, but it’s also a hard one to argue with when you look at all the statistics. According to an article on TheNextWeb.com, women account for 85 percent of all consumer purchases, including everything from automobiles to healthcare.

Those stats were, in part, the inspiration behind this month’s cover story about marketing to women. Since they make up a majority of your customers, you should not only know what to do to get them into your store, but also how to court them into becoming loyal, repeat customers.

Personally, I’m not a fan of shopping. I would much rather be outside kayaking than walking through a crowded mall. Unless, however, I am looking to buy something for my dog, or a friend’s pet; then I could spend endless hours walking up and down the aisles of a pet store.

You could say I’m a little obsessed.

Five years ago, a few weeks after I got my dog, I attended a journalism conference in Portland, Maine. My best friend and I built in an extra two days to do a little sightseeing. At that time there were three different stores that sold pet items. Of course, I had to stop in each one of them, look at all the products, read all the labels and play with the various toys to see if they could withstand Toby’s chewing habit.

I walked out of each store with no less than $30 worth of items, including treats, toys, collars, leashes and even a custom name tag.

Not surprisingly, I fit the exact customer demographic marketing experts talked to our assistant editor Jason about for this month’s cover story.

According to research conducted on behalf of DoggyLoot.com, 92 percent of their customers are unmarried females with no children who work full-time and have a bachelors degree or higher. Those are some pretty specific statistics that also ring true throughout the rest of the industry.

In fact, the American Pet Products Association’s National Pet Owners Survey 2011-12 showed 76 percent of women are the primary shoppers for pet products, while men account for 23 percent.

We talked with both marketing experts and retail stores owners to find out what makes the female customer tick. What do they think about when making a purchase, and what is it that they are looking for when deciding where to shop?

March is National Women’s History Month. To mark it, we profiled several female store owners from across the country, asking them about their careers and sharing their story of how they got into business.

It was very inspiring to read their responses to my questions. Some of them left  corporate jobs, and took a leap of faith, while  others saw a need and filled it. Each of them have a unique story to tell about how they got started, and business tips to share with other retail business owners, as well as those thinking of becoming one.

But, they all did have one thing in common: they followed their passion – a passion that is rooted in their love of pets.

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