Petco on Tuesday announced the launch of its pet health and wellness concept, PetCoach, in a physical store in San Marcos, Calif. The location includes personalized pet services, products and experiences, "all designed through a veterinary lens," the company said.
The new model brings Petco's previously online-only, veterinary-led PetCoach platform to brick-and-mortar, according to a company press release. On-site services include grooming, training, veterinary care, nutrition consultations, day care, self-wash, mobile vet house calls and dog walking. The store features casual gathering spaces for educational events and interactions, It also offers a membership option with perks like free vet visits and discounts.
Petco acquired PetCoach last year amid growing competition in the lucrative pet sales space.
Growing pet ownership is leading Americans to spend more on food, toys and other pet products, making pet supplies retail a bright spot in an otherwise tumultuous retail landscape.
Wellness, also a healthy and growing segment for human shoppers, is a wise place to focus, considering how many families consider their furry friends to be members of the family. And there's a lot of them. Most (68%) of U.S. households have pets, and millennials have supplanted baby boomers as the largest demographic of dog, cat and bird owners, according to a report this year from the American Pet Products Association.
"Pet parents tell us they want expert advice they can trust and easy, seamless access to everything they need to take the best possible care of the pets they love," Petco CEO Ron Coughlin, who has been chief executive since last month, said in a statement. "With PetCoach, we're reinventing the idea of a traditional 'pet store' by providing complete care experiences — from grooming, training and day care to full-service veterinary care — that simply can't be delivered by mail or by a mass retailer."
He's wise to emphasize that idea. While there may be plenty of pet owners willing to pay for premium pet products and services, the competition is fierce. Privately owned PetSmart acquired online rival Chewy for $3.35 billion. Last year Target partnered with pet supplies subscription service BarkBox and bolstered its private label pet supplies brand. And this year Amazon (in a move previously presaged by One Click Retail), announced its first private-label pet brand Wag, a pet food available exclusively to Amazon Prime members.
The PetCoach store will also serve as an innovation lab where the company will test and learn more about what pet parents want and need for their pets, according to Petco Executive Vice President for Strategic Innovation & Digital Experience (and PetCoach founder) Brock Weatherup. "The concept allows us to continue creating new, differentiated and personalized pet care experiences, all backed by our extensive veterinary expertise and support," he said in a statement.