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How Can You Define Your Market?

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A market is a social construct; it isn’t something tangible.  There is a tendency for brands to focus on products and services, then move on to specific features, attributes, and characteristics.

Canada has a robust pet supply market, a myriad of competitive companies, and a range of pet owners. If a brand sets out to target ALL Canadian pet owners, they will fail. The market is too broad and too segmented. To succeed, brands must identify their target market within the broader pet-owning segment of the population.

Where to start?
When launching a new brand or product, the first step is to review existing and potential competitors, and then determine which are competitors for your target market. Then you can begin to define who YOUR customers will be.

For example, look at the Canadian pet food market. While, in theory, most Canadian pet owners are potential customers, defining the target market is much more nuanced. A small percentage of Canadians will make their own pet food, but realistically, most Canadian pet owners will buy a commercial product.

There are endless competitors with endless pet food products. There are brands with veterinary and retail options, retail-only brands, brands that only sell directly to owners, brands who make raw, dehydrated brands, etc.

Some owners will be looking for the most cost-conscious offerings. Some will look for the most convenient options. Some will seek out the most premium offering. Some will be looking for organic. Some will be seeking fresh food. Etc. etc. etc.

So, where does your brand fit? Who are your direct competitors? Who might be moving into your realm next? These are the questions that will help define both your target market and your key competition.

What do pet owners want?
Owners are looking for solutions. They know they *need* to feed their pet, but it is more about finding what owners *want*, beyond meeting those basic needs when they make a buying decision. Their pet needs food, but they want to find a food that fits their philosophy and beliefs. They want a food that will keep their pet happy and healthy.

Ultimately, owners are making choices based on the benefits a product will provide to their pet. Your market will be the customers who want or need the benefits their pet will derive from your product.

Focus on the benefits of your products
Benefits are the heart of being “customer-focused”. You are obsessed with what customers want. You aren’t bringing out products that don’t have the features owners want and not bringing out products with features owners won’t pay for.

Being laser-focused on the benefits your products provide also helps you avoid being surprised by new competitors or substitute products. Product features are only important to the extent that they deliver the benefits customers are looking for.

Your customers will listen when you demonstrate an understanding of what they need/want/what problem you can help them solve. What keeps your customers awake at night? A solution to that is what your product needs to provide.

Defining your place in the market
Follow the 3 Cs of successful positioning:

Your channel is a crucial source of information about your customer and competition. Many brands do not spend enough time understanding their competition and end up making very similar claims. With nothing unique to offer, they get lost in the market.

Determining your market niche, understanding your customer’s wants and needs, and positioning your brand as a solution are all critical to your brand’s success. The team at StreetDog can help with market research, competitive analysis, branding, and positioning.

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