Merrick increases brand consideration among passionate pet parents
Merrick Pet Care leverages the strong opinions and preferences of pet owners and brand advocates to give other shoppers the confidence to choose Merrick products online and in the aisle.
Solution at a glance
Increase brand consideration
Target in-market shoppers with ads and leverage advocates to validate their purchases and help those considering Merrick
Increase in review volume and coverage at retail sites and an ads campaign yielding high return on ad spend
How Merrick increases brand consideration among passionate pet parents
Pet parents treat their dogs and cats like family and often give as much thought to the foods they feed their pets as the food they feed their children.
Savvy brands like Merrick Pet Care understand the high level of consideration pet food buyers put into their decision-making process and use the strong opinions and preferences of other pet owners to give others considering their food influential information and the confidence to choose Merrick products.
“Though we have a decent level of awareness, consideration is really the name of the game. Consumer-generated content like reviews on our products provides the kind of invaluable information needed by those considering the right foods and treats,” says Pete Brace, VP Communications and Pet Parent Relations at Merrick Pet Care.
Consumer-generated content as an advocacy tool
Merrick strives to ensure that the relationship customers have with the brand emulates the relationship they have with their pets.
“We know people have many choices, and having a good relationship and experience with a brand makes a difference."
Merrick uses Bazaarvoice Conversations in the form of ratings and reviews as one means for utilizing its community of loyalists.
"We don’t take advocacy lightly,” says Brace. “Having pet parents share their experiences with our products validates their purchase and also helps those considering Merrick."
Advocates not only include pet parents, but also the associates who in-store shoppers turn to for advice.
“The retail associate is a key influencer. Showing in-store associates what pet parents are saying about the food is some of the best and most authentic evidence they can use to spread the word about the quality of our products.”
Feedback from brand advocates can even help in clearing up misconceptions.
For example, Merrick sells a dog food product that contains a safe chicken bone. Those familiar with the product know the bone is supposed to be there and is safe for dogs to ingest. Many new shoppers express concern over the bone, but Merrick’s advocates proactively address the comments.
Our loyal customers responded on our behalf and said ‘It’s supposed to be there. I feed it to my dogs all the time, and they love it’,” said Brace. “When other customers are moderating the discussion and responding on your behalf, that’s true advocacy.”
Targeting qualified, in-market pet shoppers with Bazaarvoice Advertising
Bazaarvoice Advertising gave Merrick the ability to engage with consumers as they navigate the consumer decision journey. After identifying which consumers are reading reviews and for which specific product or category, Bazaarvoice placed Merrick’s ads in front of shoppers in the market for buying pet food.
“The ability to target in-market shoppers with a relevant message based on their behavior was an important aspect of our advertising efforts,” said Brace.
Unlike retargeting solutions, Bazaarvoice reached shoppers actively researching pet foods who demonstrated a strong intent to buy, even if those shoppers have not yet considered Merrick or shopped Merrick products.
“The ability to deliver the right message to the right audience is not always the case with the targeting from more traditional vehicles,” said Brace.
To engage with these pet parents in a more authentic way, Merrick also used reviews within the actual ad units.
“We consistently see more interaction with ads and social posts that include a customer review than those that don’t,” said Brace. “The third-party testimonial provides a more authentic viewpoint that is relevant to the person considering the purchase.”
Bazaarvoice’s ads drove a 218% higher return on ad spend and a 208% lower cost-per-acquisition compared to the brand’s standard creative. Due to Bazaarvoice’s vast network of brands and retailers, Merrick was able to drive and measure sales at key retail channel partners and still measure the success of the campaign. Even without its own e-commerce solution, Merrick measured high value call to actions on their own sites, including clicks on “Find Merrick in Store page” or the “Get Coupon” page.
Sampling supports product launches and improvements
Using Bazaarvoice Sampling, Merrick provides products to loyal customers to ensure the products reflect Merrick’s high quality and surface any possible changes that need to be made.
For example, Merrick recently provided samples to advocates to solicit feedback on a new dog treat. In doing so, the company identified a need to develop additional sizes of the treats, as those with large dogs often considered the treats as too small.
Merrick also actively gathers reviews on its products and recipes by tapping into its social media community, CRM and by leveraging the pet parent relations team, which provides a link asking for reviews to customers who provide positive feedback in various social channels.
The reviews collected from sampling and other volume-driving efforts have resulted in more than 10,000 reviews syndicated to retail sites across the Bazaarvoice Network. Currently, 88% of all reviews on retail sites came via syndication of reviews collected by Merrick.
Extending the value of CGC
Merrick shares the positive reviews in a variety of channels, including across the brand’s website, in emails and in stores. Showcasing what satisfied customers say about their products has proven highly effective, especially in social media.
“Some of our most successful social posts were those that featured customer reviews. The third-party testimonial in social media provides a more authentic viewpoint that’s relevant to the person considering the purchase,” says Brace.
In understanding the relationship between pet parent and pet, Merrick’s omnichannel and comprehensive use of consumer-generated content influences consumers throughout the consideration process.
“We know how important ratings and reviews are from a foundational level, but the real power is in how you activate that content. We’ve received more value out of the investment because of how we’ve activated it.”Download PDF »