During Covid, pet adoptions surged as up to 40% and as a result, pet products, supplies, and supplements have also increased. Yvethe Tyszka, hired in July 2020 as marketing manager of Prickly paws, a pet supplement company founded in 2016 and recently sold to Hong Kong-based H&H Group International, took the opportunity to disrupt the company’s marketing and drive significant growth for Zesty Paws.
Tyszka revamped the brand’s marketing efforts to help the brand achieve high double-digit growth in 2020 and launched Zesty’s first TV commercial in January 2021. The high marketing strategy helped grab the attention of Target and PetSmart, expanding Zesty’s in-store distribution from 0 to 3,000 doors in less than 12 months. Below is information about Tyszka’s disruption efforts.
Kimberly Whitler: What was Zesty’s marketing strategy prior to your appointment?
Yvethe Tyszka: As a digital native brand, Zesty Paws’ strategy has focused on online growth and consumer validation of our products through social proof of customer reviews on product pages. We have achieved tremendous growth and over 200,000 5-star ratings and reviews online delivering exceptional quality products, primarily through Amazon.com and Chewy.com. In early 2020, we launched our first brick and mortar retail partner with Target. This was the start of our offline distribution, which exceeded our buyers’ expectations and allowed us to expand in 2021. In September 2020, we launched our second retailer, PetSmart, in select stores, gaining nationwide expansion by June 2021. Through bold packaging, consumer education and treating our fans as concerned parents, we had a solid lead in the pet supplement market.
Whitler: Why did you change it and what specific changes did you make?
Tyszka: I arrived on board at a very exciting time as the brand prepared to increase category and brand awareness and deepen consumer segmentation. This was the first task I tackled with the team, as we embarked on the focus groups, social listening, and quantitative research, which we used to guide our audience definition. It was on this deep understanding of consumers that we built our first national TV campaign, launching in early 2020. We also leveraged this information to create retail programs that drive category discovery. , education and penetration. We’ve worked with our retail partners to make it easier for pet parents to find pet supplementation by making sure we’re located where they would naturally seek it out: near the treat aisle . The strong humanization trend in pets – 90% + of consumers consider their pets to be part of their family – establishes a definite correlation between humans who take supplements and those who give them to their fur babies , spending 4X + what regular pet parents spend on pet supplements. We also have an unyielding desire to emphasize that the Zesty moment (the moment you give your pet their Zesty product) must be fun for you and your fur babies. Finally, since our data shows that our consumers are parents of multiple pets, we have broadened our selection of SKUs to include virtual bundles to give consumers the ability to buy more while saving money in return. .
Whitler: What additional changes have you made in the past year?
Tyszka: We have fully embraced customer focus and an omnichannel approach in everything we do and have developed strategies defined by each of our consumer segments. This has allowed us to deliver content that resonates with parents of pets of all types, wherever they are in their parenting journey, and is available wherever they browse and shop. This, coupled with top-notch customer service, has enabled us to retain thousands of pet parents across the country who trust the well-being of their fur babies at Zesty Paws. The amount of energy seems to have increased exponentially, whether it’s talking to a retail partner or someone across you at the dog park, the buzz around the brand is more and more evident every day.
Whitler: What are some of the tangible results you can share?
Tyszka: As a benchmark, we have expanded our marketing team to six members (and are recruiting more) to bring dedicated expertise in areas such as product marketing and email marketing, among others, so that we can get started in creating a fully omnichannel marketing campaign. We have increased our number of social media followers by 240.6% in 12 months and increased our share of voice in social and press conversations to be a leading voice in the industry. The momentum of the TV campaign and increased brand awareness played a big part in our conversations with shoppers and allowed us to expand the brand from 0 physical stores to nearly 3,000 stores with Target and PetSmart today – all in less than 18 months. We have partnered with them to increase awareness of the category in pet supplementation, with the Zesty Paws feature. A good example is a PDQ we did with PetSmart to feature Zesty Paws as a brand block at launch. We did most of the stores following their traditional placement by Condition and about 60 stores via brand blocking. Since the PDQ also included category information, we knew this would help with benefit education and the results were very positive as brand blocking resulted in incremental speed. Based on those learnings, we then partnered up with them again on an end between the treats and the supplements, which was a great place to find out about the category and brand.
Whitler: What advice do you have to other marketing managers on how to disrupt a marketing strategy to drive growth?
Tyszka: I would advise them to lead with passion the mission of your team and your brand, to always listen to your consumer and to remain flexible to adapt to its evolution. We love to give talented individuals the freedom to lead in their areas of knowledge and expertise while providing support and guidance to lead the brand in the right direction. This in turn creates a culture rich in purpose and creativity.
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