After months of receiving pictures from my fiancé of various puppies up for rescue, I still can't tell you what it was about the Australian cattle dog puppy she sent me a picture of that resulted in my reply, 'Well let's just go and check him out.' It's been over two years since that Friday in October when we went to visit an adorable 16-week-old puppy named Marlin at a dog foster home.
I remember it vividly, Marlin charging straight into my partners' arms the second we walked through the gate. That’s when it hit me; we weren’t choosing the pup, the pup was choosing us.
Those first few months of owning a puppy are very social. Everyone greets the new puppy in the street for pats, and you’re willingly soaking up advice from more experienced owners. That’s how I met a fellow Australian cattle dog owner, Louie. A really likeable guy with lots of common interests. His bluey was nearly a year older than ours and Louie also worked in the creative industry. We quickly became friends.
One day walking the dogs together Louie asked If I had seen the missing dog posters around lately. He explained that they were part of a clever marketing campaign. When you read the poster closely it wasn't your usual 'Skittles—brown Labradoodle missing. Reward if found' type thing. Instead it read, 'Transparency in the dog food industry', complete with tear off strips that bore a company website, Scratchpetfood.com.au.
Seth Godin says in his book This is Marketing that pet food is about marketing to humans, not pets. Since we humans have no idea what makes pet food delicious, most pet food companies market to our human taste buds and talk about the freshness and taste of ingredients.
But Scratch isn’t most pet food companies. Their approach goes in a different direction. They focus instead on the relevance and value of their product.
Their mission? “To offer you a new breed of Australian made dog food. One that’s good for your dog, better for the planet, and easier for you.” My curiosity was peaked and I decided to explore and dive deeper into this company searching for transparency in the dog food industry.
After checking out their website I instantly loved how consistent and on-brand their marketing was.
The website messaging continued the narrative from the park poster, ambiguously shaming big name pet food brands for the large production chains, overheads, and cost. All while offering poor quality food for your furry best friend.
Scratch Pet Food’s offering? An alternative to big bags of shop-bought pet food. By using an online subscription model, and cutting out the big chain retailers, Scratch delivers high quality pet food made with local ingredients, delivered direct to consumer at a reasonable price.
This messaging successfully defines who the brand is and who the brand is not, challenging you to decide whether are you someone who: (a) follows the herd and buys overpriced low quality product or (b), is savvy enough to make an ethical choice for your dog and the planet.
I was quickly able to learn about Scratch’s values and beliefs and decide whether they aligned with my own.
A well-defined core customer is key to a thriving business. I’m not talking about defining demographics, but rather understanding the psychographics of your core customer. Scratch successfully targets the savvy dog owner who wants the best for their pet while feeling smarter and more socially conscious about their choices.
The further step is they successfully define the enemy: Pet shop retailers with high markups and poor ingredients.
Needless to say, I love the brand and from what I can tell from the empty food bowl, Marlin loves the food.
My order is automated which means I never run out of pet food. Each box is delivered on time and left outside my door for my convenience – no more carrying 13kg bags home from the store. I get emails letting me know when orders might be late due to busier shipping periods allowing me to easily advance my next order.
Needless to say, they deliver on the promise of making pet food easier.
Marcus Carman, Senior Designer