September 12, 2023

SuperZoo Takeaways

This year’s SuperZoo saw increased attendance over 2022 to the delight of manufacturers who have been eager to showcase what they’ve been working on and reconnect with partners. As in past years, the event gave participants the opportunity to gauge what trends are getting pet parents excited and to solidify their year-end strategies to close out 2023 strong.

Exhibitors’ Overall Impressions 

“The show met our expectations and seemed larger this year,” said Shannon Supanich, Marketing Director for Pioneer Pet Products. “We had good conversations with many potential clients and are hopeful they turn into business opportunities/connections. What was interesting was the number of potential B2B connections that were made with other exhibitors. The shows are always a fun way to connect with other pet industry people.”

“SuperZoo 2023 was a really positive experience for us,” said Will Chen, CEO & Co-Founder of P.L.A.Y. (Pet Lifestyle and You). “With over a decade of involvement in the event, we had set some ambitious expectations and goals. Initial indicators are pointing in the right direction and it usually takes a couple of months for us to be able to measure in specific numbers. During this SuperZoo, we were excited to launch two new plush toy sets: the Splish Splash Collection and the Barktender Collection. Additionally, we introduced our Lumber Jax LickinLog, a new chew toy made from a blend of wood and composite materials, proudly manufactured in the USA. SuperZoo also provided a platform to connect with potential customers, existing clients, industry peers, and the media. It seems like there was a notable increase in foot traffic this year. However, it’s worth noting that competition has intensified as more companies have returned to trade show participation post-pandemic.”

“PetShop by Fringe Studio had a successful 2023 SuperZoo show that far exceeded our expectations,” Jennifer Rosenberger, Director of Product Management- Pet. “As a leader in the plush toy market, customers came to see the newness we were offering in plush and were excited to see us launching into new product categories such as rubber dog toys, latex dog toys, and our annual pet lifestyle products. At our booth there was also a lot of enthusiasm around our new earth friendly dog toys and the different toy and toy sets available for cats.”

“WPA reported a 10 percent attendance increase over the 2022 show, and we felt it! It was a great show,” said Yvethe Tyszka, VP of Marketing of Zesty Paws and Solid Gold. “Attending SuperZoo this year gave us the opportunity to showcase our new product innovations in a tangible way and to share one on one with attendees the science behind our products. With Zesty Paws entering into the cellular health category, which is a highly emotional consumer segment, we gave visitors to our booth a first look at our Healthy Aging NAD+ Precursor and it was great to see firsthand their excitement and interest in real time. The show was buzzing with conversation and innovation, and it was a great opportunity for our Pet Nutrition Care brands.”

Noteworthy Trends 

“Pet parents are continuing to spend lavishly on their pets and they continue to value services helping partners with their efforts to the well-being of their pets,” said Paragon Pet President Joe Zuccarello.  

The trends that SodaPup paid attention to during the show addressed pet parent’s shop-ping habits, ingredient panels and mentally stimulating pets. 

“My biggest takeaways in terms of trends fall into a couple of buckets: Consumer shopping preferences: Consumers value newness. I think that as the industry grows and more in-vestment flows into pet, new thinking comes along with it,” Baker said. “This has led to an acceleration of new products, like what we do at SodaPup – introducing new products at a much faster cadence than other brands. As a result, consumer expectations are changing. They expect to see new things when they shop, so this puts new pressures on retailers to ‘flow’ newness into their assortment to keep consumers coming back again and again.”

“Ingredients: Human grade diets/healthy diets/raw diets. As the humanization of pet trends continues to grow, the trend toward healthier pet diets continues to gather momen-tum,” he continued. “At SodaPup we launched a ‘first of its kind’ new pet treat here in the US called ‘Jelly Shots.’ This is basically Jell-O for dogs, without all the sugar. Gelatine is loaded with collagen which is good for digestive health as well as healthy skin and coat. Our Jelly Shots come in two flavors (Mango and Cranberry) and come in a powder form that can be dissolved into boiling chicken, beef, or bone broth and poured into candy molds. Pop them in the fridge and in an hour you have a healthy, fun, and low calorie treat for your dog! We received a lot of interest in the Jelly Shots because pet parents think of their dogs as their children, and they associate Jell-O with kids.”

“The most common trend we noted was attendees seeking us out for not only durable toys, but puzzle toys that will keep their dogs busy,” said Emily Benson, Marketing Director, Starmark Pet Products. “This has been a growing trend over the last several years as more people realize that dogs truly need boredom alleviation in the form of some kind of mental stimulation for happier and more fulfilled lives.”

Retailers’ Next Steps 

SodaPup imparted upon retailers the company’s efforts to take a trend that is already established on other continents and helping it to flourish across North America. 

“The enrichment trend is more firmly entrenched in other parts of the world like Australia and Western Europe but it is coming to the US very quickly thanks to social media which facilitates the spread of new ideas,” Baker explained. “Many retailers are still not carrying lick mats in their stores but now understand that they need to add these products quickly. Most realize when they come in our booth that SodaPup has differentiated itself with a broad assortment of enrichment products with very unique designs as well as different levels of difficulty, and seasonal designs as well. The primary reason for all the activity in our booth at the show was our slow feeder bowls and our lick mats, including five new designs just for this show. At SodaPup, we treat lick mats like a graphic t-shirt business. Although most of us don’t need another t-shirt, we can’t resist buying another if we like the design! We are finding that if we keep introducing compelling new lick mat designs, consumers will collect them, whether they need them or not!”

“We hope they will be knowledgeable/interested in our new SmartCat Corn + Wheat Litter,” Supanich said. “Also, there was interest in our family line of Vortex Fountains. For our retailers who met with us, we hope they look at their fountain business in preparation for next year to make sure they have a solid assortment and take advantage of the Spring/summer hydration time. As far as litter goes, we hope they took advantage of our show specials.”

“Hopefully they were able to take advantage of our show specials and get first dibs on our newest products,” Chen said. “If a retailer came to our booth for the first time, it might be a bit overwhelming with all the products we have. Retailers should focus on the needs of their store and check out those products in our catalog or request access to our online ordering portal for all our product information in digital format. We have products for dogs and cats including beds, toys, outdoor, and accessories, so something for everyone! If retailers have any questions on anything, our in-house sales representatives are ready to answer them and help find the best assortment of products for their customers.”

“There’s a lot of excitement around PetShop by Fringe Studio’s seasonal dog toy collections like Halloween and Holiday, so retailers should focus on placing orders for their seasonal toy assortments as soon as possible to ensure they can receive styles before they sell out,” Rosenberger said. “During Q4, we feel it’s also important to have a variety of options available for customers, so we highly encourage retailers place orders for our Everyday dog toys at the same time they’re ordering Holiday items so both can be available for Q4 sales.”

“After meeting with Zesty Paws and Solid Gold, my hope is that retailers remember the evident commitment of our brands to deliver premium and highly innovative pet products,” Tyszka said. “Our upcoming product launches -Zesty Paws Healthy Aging NAD+ Precursor and Solid Gold Nutrientboost toppers- not only address the unique needs of pets of all ages, but also provide pet parents with even more ways to support their pet’s overall health and happiness.”

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