Get Your Paws on a Slice of The £100 Million UK Pet Toy Market

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We bought a couple of lovely British shorthair kittens last September – (Posy & Bibi) – mainly as we thought it would be good for the children… but I forgot just how much fun they are…

And how much you can end up spending on them!

These days there’s a bewildering choice of foods, toys, baskets, bowls, beds, carriers, scratchers, collars and feeders…

(If you’re more of a dog person (or even not bothered one way or the other), please bear with me, you can benefit from what I’ve discovered too!)

Pets are big business and here’s a specific angle you could exploit…

You might have recently seen a commercial on TV for a cat toy called The Cat’s Meow

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It’s a simple battery-operated object that has a ‘mouse’ rotate under a canvas circle, with its ‘tail’ sticking out. It changes direction without warning and to a cat, the urge to bat it with a paw is too strong to resist.

The toy has been a big seller in the US and over here and that got me thinking…


In the UK , we spend an incredible
£3 billion a year on pets!


And over £100 million of that was spent on pet toys according to market researchers AMA Research – providing an existing and growing market for a potentially profitable business enterprise focusing on the pet toy niche.

It seems that pet owners across the UK (and other areas of the world) are placing their pet’s happiness very highly in their money-spending agendas.

Why is the pet market so seemingly buoyant?

Well why not? Besides the fact that most people have an innate love of animals, and that they can be an endless source of fun and merriment on and off the Internet – (I’m thinking about Grumpy Cat and her massive fortune) – there are many studies to show the health benefits of having pets.

For example, a 2014 study published in Preventative Medicine demonstrated that elderly dog owners live longer – specifically that those over the age of 65 with a dog have the fitness level of those ten years younger, as well as enjoying significantly lower levels of anxiety and depression.

The study focused on dogs, but similar studies apply similar conclusions to owners of other animals – and it’s even believed that the resonance of cat’s purr is a form of sound medication.


What you need to know know
about the pet toy niche

As the pet market is highly competitive, make sure you drill down to pet toy sub-niches rather than trying to stand out selling general pet toy products.

Consider multi-functional toys which combine numerous play behaviours with the potential to improve the health and wellbeing of the pet.

For example, Zogoflex’s Twiz dog toy (distributed by Collarways) can be used as a toy for a tug-of-war, or as a retrieval toy, and owners have the ability to hide a treat inside it.


 


Also, consider toys that act as training aids or provide mental stimulation are in demand – perfect for pets who are left at home for extended periods of time.

Good examples of this are the interactive toys and puzzles created by Nina Ottosson


Or what about the Foobler – a self-reloading puzzle feeder for dogs!

Other niches include toys that are geared towards a particular life stage of a pet: se kittens and puppies are hugely popular, but I also think there has to be potential for targetting the owners of elderly pets too.

And then there are toys which are designed specifically for their toughness and durability such as Tuffy Toys.

Or the age-old problem of a toy’s stuffing coming out that’s solved by the Skinneez stuffing-free toy range.

Don’t forget the fat cats…


According to a report by the Pet Food Maufacturer’s Association, an estimated 45% of dogs and 40% of cats are obese.

While there may not be toys designed specifically for overweight pets (I haven’t checked), you could certainly target the owners and appeal to their conscience.

So toys that encourage some form of physical activity could be repositioned as weight-loss aids.

… or the green dogs!

Or you could focus on pet owners who want eco-friendly toys, such as the Beco 100% natural Rice Husk Rubber toy range, made from bamboo and rice husks.

Or Planet Dog’s Wood Chuck Dog Ball Thrower with Recyle Ball

IMPORTANT: Remember, the dog or cat are not your target audience – you are always marketing to the owner.

The more you can understand the psychology
and emotions of the owner, the easier it is
to sell the benefits of the toy

And when you find a product that sells, consider sticking to the same niche (eg: eco toys) and introducing more products that are complimentary. That way you have a greater chance of upselling another product either at the point of sale or at a later date.


Sourcing pet toys to sell

Should you want to just go with the general niche of low-cost pet toys, there’s no shortage of wholesalers on and off the Internet to choose from.

A quick search online came up with wholesalers is as follows:

Pluto’s Pets

Pet Buddies

Discount Wholesale

Paws Paradise

Pet 365

Trust Pet

Pups and Pets

Of course, if you just want to stick at buying and selling the lower-end more basic pet toys, then that’s fine.

The good place to resell this sort of non-specialised, non-micro-niche pets toy is a market or car boot sale.

If you can, choose your market carefully, visiting all within your area and observing how many dog owners are present.

Though you might not be selling exclusively dog-related pet toys, a higher number of dog owners might result in more impulse buys for their cherished canine friends.

For more innovative premium products, you’ll need to get researching.

While researching this article, I found loads of amazing products – some were heavily marketed (and so competitive) on Amazon and eBay.

Others that were just as innovative didn’t have the same exposure due to weak advertising. These will inevitably fewer competitors out there.

Allow plenty of time to do this research and really immerse yourself in the pet toy world so that you begin to feel like a bit of an expert.

Make a note of as many micro-niched toys you come across and all the details of the manufacturers.

Once you’ve chosen a micro-niche – or more than one – get in touch with the manufacturer directly.

Approach them with the view to becoming an official vendor and/or distributer for them.

Always make sure you do your profit calculations by factoring in all associated costs of selling including unit cost, listing fees, commisssions and postage & packaging.


Selling platforms for micro-niche pet toys

Amazon and eBay are the obvious online marketplaces to consider first.

You should also consider creating your own etail site using a tool like Shopify.

I can highily recommend Amanda O’Brien’s Etail Academy as the best one-stop training for seling online.

And don’t forget, pet toys are just one corner of the buying-for-pets market.

Even within micro-niches, there’s scope for growth and the inclusion of new relevant lines of stock that might also be relevant to the micro-niche you’ve chosen – for example, nutritional supplements for elderly pets; or pet accessories that have more than one function (an anti-flea cat collar that also has a positioning tracker on it, for instance).

The pet toy market is huge: with a well appointed ecommerce site supplying products for an in-demand pet toy micro-niche or niches, there’s every reason why this could be a viable enterprise for you.

Your next step may be to take a look at sites such as Pet Business World, a great site with active forums and is a well suited place for helping you source that elusive product or learn from others.

Do you have any experience of the pet business? Are you selling pet products online or offline? If so, let me know… now that I’ve got cats, I’m constantly thinking about pet related business ideas… and fascinated by finding innovative ways to market pet products.

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