Dog Food

I was at the local branch of the national massive pet supply superstore the other day to get dog food. It turned out to be an exercise in frustration and a lesson in marketing.

Our dog can be a bit fussy when eating — she likes what she likes, and she doesn’t always like “new and improved” things. If they don’t have the exact kind of doggy bone treats that she likes, it can be an “adventure” trying to find a substitute that she does like. She prefers “chopped” canned food to the “stew” kind. (Of course, what she really prefers is our food, as in “people food,” but that’s another story.) And what she really likes and eats every day is the Pedigree brand of canned dog food.

I normally go to the national massive pet supply superstore and get 100+ cans at a time of four or six varieties, then mix them up so that she doesn’t get a month of beef, then a month of chicken, then a month of… You get the idea.

This time, I had to hunt all over the store to find the Pedigree dog food. All of a sudden, where it had always filled up thirty to forty feet of an aisle, six or eight shelves high, now it was maybe four feet of aisle, and only the bottom three or four shelves. Needless to say, the variety available and number of cans available was severely limited compared to before.

I was concerned (I don’t need the grief of trying to find a new primary canned dog food that the princess will tolerate), so I asked one of the store employees if there was a problem. Was Pedigree being discontinued or something?

Nope, they just have seriously downsized (as in reduced by over 90%!) the amount that they’re carrying, so that they can use the shelf space to bring me more varieties of other brands and more healthy options for me and my pet.

Guess what? I was skeptical of that justification. More to the point, I immediately felt that the BS level was knee deep and rising.

I took a look at all of those wonderful new options. Every one of them has some buzzword in the brand name, like “homestyle,” “natural,” “wholesome,” “organic,” or “wilderness.” They were all very proud of being made from prime rib, happy sheep, pure buffalo meat, Grade AAA llama meat, or free-range antibiotic-free conflict-free komodo dragon eyelids. A big selection of them weren’t even in cans, they were in a refrigerated section!

To absolutely no one’s surprise, all of these “new and improved” brands cost anywhere from twice as much to six or seven times as much as the “good old stuff” that Jessie’s been eating for years.

I don’t believe the national massive pet supply superstore did this for my benefit.

I don’t believe they did it out of concern for my dog’s health.

I don’t believe they did it because the food Jessie’s been eating her whole life has been bad for her.

Nope, call me crazy, but I think they did this because they’ve hired some “marketing experts” who believe they can screw the customer out of a lot of money.

By putting new, fancy, bright colored labels on dog food, they’re trying to convince everyone that we’re practically abusing our dogs by feeding them the same old food

By going off on all of these bizarre ingredients and so on, they want us to feel guilty if we’re not feeding them the latest, greatest, and trendiest.

Dear marketing experts, if you want to pay three or four times as much for dog food just because it’s got buzzwords printed on the label, knock yourselves out. But if you want to stop selling the brands I’ve been buying for decades just so (you think) I have no choice but to buy the new and improved dog food at the inflated prices, then you’re not very good “experts.”

You’re “one of” the national massive pet supply superstores, not “the only” one. That’s a critical distinction that you need to keep in mind.

Furthermore, I can still buy what I want to buy at places like the grocery store or the warehouse stores. I have been buying it from your store simply because your prices beat theirs by a few cents a can. However, if I used to buy at your store for $0.52/can instead of $0.58/can at the grocery store, but now the only choice you give me is to either buy Pedigree at $0.58/can at the grocery store or to buy Blue Harvest Organic Armadillo Meat at $1.50/can…

Dudes, it’s Economics 101, not rocket science.

Have these “marketing experts” ever heard of “The Law of Unintended Consequences?” Missed class that day, eh?

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