Winning pet business by safety, user-friendliness and health

An Expert's View about Food , Beverages and Tobacco in Hong Kong SAR

Posted on: 31 Oct 2011

Given the rising pet humanisation trend, the requirements for pet care products are becoming increasingly synchronised with those applicable to the manufacturing of products for humans. As such, product safety, user-friendliness and health elements have become essential elements that pet owners and therefore traders will look for when choosing products for pets.

Safety comes first
Unlike toys and baby supplies, there are few, if any, safety rules on pet care products, except for pet food and health supplements. To differentiate their products, some Hong Kong pet supplies manufacturers have decided to bring their pet care products up to safety standards as for children’s toys.
For instance, a Hong Kong toy company, Nobel Creative Ltd, has diversified into the business of pet toys and differentiated its training toys by subjecting them to the same product safety tests originally decided for children’s toys with a world-class test laboratory in Germany, TÜV.
As a serious forerunner, Nobel Creative has even developed with the German lab a standard-like label for its dog-training toys in a bid to highlight the safety of its products and establish benchmarks by which anyone interested in the business can make reference to.
Under the brand of MAJORDOG, the certified items will carry a label indicating such standards as mechanical and physical properties (EN71-1) and flammability (EN71-2) against which the training toys are thoroughly tested against European standards on safety of toys in compliance with the EU Toy Safety Directive.
Despite the cost concerns, subjecting pet products to safety tests as stringent as those for human products not only can help manufacturers to stand out from their competitors, this is particularly important when safety rules on many pet care products are still largely unclear and arbitrary. A safety label, apart from giving consumers more information and confidence in the products, can also serve as a good tactic for newcomers to compete with incumbent brands.

Standing in the user’s shoes
Due to many reasons including long working hours and hectic lifestyles, consumers nowadays are increasingly looking for pet products embedded with more convenient features, time-saving options and user-friendlier designs. Living life in a hurry, pet owners, like many other consumers, are seeking more user-friendly products to aid them in meeting the daily needs of their loved companions.
This trend is fortified by the mindset that pets should be treated more like a family member. Consumers are starting to look for more high-tech and user-friendlier devices to improve the quality of life of their pets. Meanwhile, technological progress and advances in product design have also allowed those who used to shun pets to own one with ease.
Another strong driver of the growth is the ageing population which definitely adds to the demand for the aforesaid convenience. With more and more senior citizens choosing to own companion pets, convenience and user-friendliness have become almost indispensible. This is especially true for those who are physically constrained to perform certain complicated tasks such as cleaning up after their pets or exercising their pets.
Standing in the user’s shoes, many Hong Kong manufacturers have been leveraging on their strength and existing OEM capacity in the toy, garment and electrical sectors to devise innovative and user-friendly pet options for both local and overseas markets.
To illustrate, a Hong Kong manufacturer, Sealand Holdings Co Ltd (Sealand), has responded to this trend by all-in-one aquariums and many other ready-to-use aquarium products. Packed in one box with easy assembly, these aquarium packages include all the equipment needed to start a tank such as lighting and filtration systems. Coming in a variety of designs, these aquarium packages cater to a broad range of customers’ tastes and interior design ideas.
Years of manufacturing experience in electrical products together with a passion for the aquatic hobby have made Sealand a dab hand in combining requirements for user-friendliness and convenience with safety and innovative features. With its own design team, engineering staff and factory, since 2002, Sealand has successfully diversified from the domestic market to export business since 2002. Nowadays, the company sells to many overseas markets including the US, Europe and Australia, under the brand of AA Aquarium.
Healthier pets, happier owners
Staying healthy is not just a privilege for humans, but for animals of all kinds, including beloved pets. Thanks to advances in medicine and medical technology, both humans and their pets are living longer than ever these days. As humans are becoming more informed and conscious about the importance of healthcare, their pets are also getting better healthcare.
Medicine and treatment aside, pet owners are becoming increasingly fastidious about what their pets are eating, playing with and using. From pet food, dietary supplements, treats to pet strollers/carriers, houses/crates, beds, feeders, waterers, apparel, toys and many other accessories, the health value of a product has become one of, if not the most, important considerations when pet owners are purchasing pet supplies.
Beyond safety, pet owners are looking for products that can improve the health of their loved furry companions. While the pet culture in Hong Kong is not yet as well established as that in the US or Europe, Hong Kong manufacturers are following closely the development of healthy pet care products.
For instance, a Hong Kong company, Tak Li (China) Ltd, which has been operating a pet division manufacturing innovative toys and accessories for pets since 2000 and a pet food manufacturing facility under the company of Petagon Ltd since 2007, is launching a new line of pet food called “DeliPate”. These treats are made with 100 per cent natural ingredients, using a self-developed, patented technology (NutrisealTM) to enhance their nutrient value and taste.

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Posted: 31 October 2011

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