Small animals, while not flashy like other companion animals, have remained important to the industry for their tendency to being the pet that people first add to their family. With the small animal category changing significantly over the years, Pet Age decided to speak with Peter Reid, president and chief operating officer of Marshall Pet Products, to learn how the brand has been able to overcome the effects of COVID-19.
How has the pandemic impacted ferrets and small pets?
In the early phases of the pandemic, I don’t think anyone knew how the demand for ferrets or other pets would be impacted. With lockdown orders in place across the country, our first reaction was that it was going to impact demand in a negative manner. However, the exact opposite happened. We quickly saw that the work from home and distant learning households added pets to their homes at one of the highest and fastest rates in recent history. We heard the comment time and time again: “If it wasn’t for my ferret or other pet, I am not sure how I would have handled the pandemic.”
I really feel they helped divert our attention from a daily wave of negative and bad news. In some ways I believe they have been lifesavers to many. The demand for ferrets, small pets and really all pets, has been excellent throughout this whole ordeal. One of the outcomes of an unplanned spike in demand, is that supply shortages have been commonplace. Adjusting to a higher demand in the companion pet space takes time, especially when you are dealing with Mother Nature.
How would you describe Marshall’s relationship with distributors and retailers throughout the pandemic?
I really feel that it deepened significantly. We were all thrown into this sea of the unknown all at once and we witnessed stores and distributors really stepping up to serve their customers who were in search of a new pet. I really felt that there was significant teamwork throughout the supply chain to meet the growing demand. It was very fulfilling professionally.
I witnessed weekly strategic planning and discussions with our partners be it with supply and demand, transportation or navigating the ever-changing local, state and federal mandates and rules. We saw retailers that once only sold hard goods bring companion pets back into their establishments. I want to thank all the distributors and retailers that stayed open during the lockdown phases of the pandemic and were committed to providing pets, they made a huge difference in the lives of thousands and thousands of newly formed pet families.
Which Marshall products have been in demand with small pet parents?
With so many newly formed ferret households, products like our Marshall Premium Ferret Diet, the Bandits treats, Clean and Fresh Litter and our supplement line have done very well. Early in the pandemic, there was significant panic buying and we saw many of our items sell out quickly. We have seen supply chain issues start to improve and hope they continue to do so. The complete Marshall line of products has performed excellent throughout the pandemic, and we owe a large thank you to our distributors, retailers and above all our loyal consumers for making that happen.
Why should retailers consider dedicating more shelf space to ferrets and small pets?
For one, our ferrets are not sold on the Internet, and it gives brick-and-mortar retailers a competitive edge over online retailers that sell only products and accessories. How many products do you have in your store that are not sold on the Internet? In a day and age where you have to find a competitive edge, ferrets are one to seriously consider. Ferrets are a unique niche that garners tremendous loyalty from their pet parents. Creating a unique space in your store for both ferrets and their supplies is a winning combination that will bring your customers back to your store time and time again.