Pet Age: Global Pet Expo continues to expand in popularity. Tell us what you see as the most significant “thought shift” in the industry from 1958 to 2014.
Darmohraj: There is no question that the biggest change has been with how pet owners view their pets. Pets are now members of the family. Outdoor doghouses are a thing of the past, and dogs have their own beds in the house or even share the bed with their owners.
Pet Age: APPA’s mission is to promote, develop and advance pet ownership and the pet products industry, as well as to provide the services necessary to help its members prosper. Tell us about a few of the programs APPA offers to help business owners succeed.
Darmohraj: The National Pet Owners Survey is the most important piece of research in the pet industry. Since 1988, we have been collecting and publishing the industry’s most comprehensive consumer research study of demographics, buying habits and other traits of owners of dogs, cats, fish, birds, reptiles, small animals and equine. Members use that research for business planning and to identify trends in the industry.
Global Pet Expo and its predecessor, the APPMA Show, has been the one place where our members could meet with the most important retailers and distributors from around the world to sell their products and build their businesses.
Regarding pet ownership, we are big supporters of Pets in the Classroom, HABRI and Pets Add Life. All of these programs promote the benefits of pet ownership to the public.
Pet Age: Which APPA resources do you view as the most critical for business owners?
Darmohraj: The National Pet Owners Survey provides a great deal of information that is not available anywhere else and Global Pet Expo puts our members in front of thousands of qualified pet product buyers. In addition to those, the APPA Smartbrief is a weekly email newsletter that provides the latest news in the pet products industry.
Pet Age: The Retailer Excellence Awards are designed to honor outstanding independent pet stores in a variety of categories. Can you tell us how retailers are nominated and how these awards can impact a business?
Darmohraj: We are very happy with how quickly the Retailer Excellence Awards have gained traction in the industry. Retailers are nominated by manufacturers and distributors. Retailers can also self-nominate if they want. There is a form that needs to be submitted in each category. Those are reviewed by a committee that selects the winners. The award winners tell us that there is a great deal of satisfaction being acknowledged by their peers and keeps them wanting to find other ways to improve their business.
Pet Age: What types of trends do you view as most significant with manufacturers in the pet industry?
Darmohraj: Right now we are seeing the largest growth in the natural products side of the business. The Natural Pet section at Global Pet Expo has grown by 400 percent since its inception. Many of our new members have natural products, and we are seeing well-established companies add natural items to their product lines.
Pet Age: Make a prediction for 2015. What’s going to be the main focus?
Darmohraj: The Pet Leadership Council, which is made up of representatives of industry associations, manufacturers and retailers, has been meeting for a few years. I think 2015 will be the year that the council’s work will expand and it will become well-known in the pet industry.