Zooming Into a New Era
Royal Pet Inc. is building on its 20-year history of crafting solution-oriented pet care products with the launch of an innovative line of edible dog chew toys.
The evolution from producing simple litter pan liners to developing and manufacturing a whole new category of edible dog toys doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, for Royal Pet Inc., it’s a process that has been about two decades in the making.
From its humble origins rooted in the cat waste management category to building a treat factory in St. Paul, Minn., the company has spent the past 20 years steadily building a diverse offering of solution-focused products that make pet ownership less of a hassle and more engaging. Whether it’s the company’s original litter pan liners, doggie waste pick-up bags and cleaning products or rubber toys, long-lasting chews and even holiday apparel and accessories, Royal Pet’s broad lineup offers something for every pet owner.
And since the company has extensive experience with developing both private-label and branded lines, its products have proven to be great fits for retailers of all shapes and sizes.
“We are a retail service-oriented, problem-solving company,” explains Troy Petersen, president of Royal Pet, which is headquartered in South St. Paul, Minn. “Our real niche is in customer-oriented merchandising solutions in private brands. Retailers are looking for ways to increase customer loyalty to their stores, and that has created a lot of momentum for private-label.”
Along with this core strength in private-label, Royal Pet can also be a valuable partner for smaller retailers that maybe don’t have the volume to warrant their own proprietary branding.
“It’s harder to customize private-label solutions for smaller retailers, but we can help them differentiate their stores with our brands,” says Petersen, noting that the company’s brands cannot be found in Target, Walmart, Petco or PetSmart.
Included among Royal Pet’s branded lines are:
Fresh Kitty—The company’s first branded line includes its original litter pan liners, along with litter pans and other accessories, such as scoops, mats and deodorizers.
Spotty—This dog waste management brand includes an indoor dog potty and pads as well as cleansing wipes, dog litter, pooper scoopers and rolled pick-up bags.
Chewy’s Rawhide Shoppe—The “party rawhide chews” in this line come in a variety of fun shapes like ice cream cones, cupcakes, lollipops and taffy. Available flavors include peanut butter, chicken and bacon.
Gnawsome Interactive Toys—This line includes an array of natural rubber, latex and vinyl toys that feature squeakers, lights and a variety of sounds to create an engaging play experience for dogs.
Companion Gear—Royal Pet’s apparel and accessories line includes holiday apparel, accessories and treats, as well as protective dog boots.
Cold Life—This line of reptile-safe cleaning products includes everything needed to clean up a cold-blooded pet’s habitat, from cleaning solutions to scrubbers.
Whether a retailer is working with Royal Pet on a private-label program or merchandising the company’s branded products, Petersen says the company provides a distinct benefit to a store’s bottom line.
“We are always supplying high-velocity items with margins that are much higher than the average,” he says. “Our goals, with the resources and strengths we have as a company, are to deliver sharper costs and to have a great delivery schedule that doesn’t require backordering.”
A Different Kind of Toy
After building experience in developing dog toys and chew treats over the years, Royal Pet created a unique line that combined both concepts.
The company’s ZoomaChews are 100 percent edible chew toys that are made in the USA from real chicken, turkey, beef and bacon. Available in a variety of shapes—such as sticks, tires, balls, bones, tugs and even flyers—they include no artificial colors, preservatives or flavors. The line even includes some grain- and gluten-free options.
According to Petersen, in addition to being a healthy treat for dogs, ZoomaChews inspire more quality playtime between a pet and its owner. “My dog, for example, will bring back the flyer a dozen or so times before he gets tired and sits down to eat it,” he says. “There’s not another treat on the market that is a toy that’s 100 percent edible.”
Like all of Royal Pet Inc.’s treats, ZoomaChews are made in the company’s own factory in Minnesota, which has unique production capabilities. “We’re only the second factory in the United States that has both extrusion and injection molding capabilities under one roof,” says Petersen. “That means we don’t have to source any outside production for our products—we can make it all here. That is pretty unique in this industry and this brings a lot of interest to our door.”
To make sure that ZoomaChews effectively connect with dog owners, Royal Pet has made a big investment in consumer research, including conducting focus groups and online surveys to refine various marketing and merchandising elements such as the logo design and packaging used for the line. In addition, the company has developed a variety of point-of-purchase materials that retailers can use to introduce customers to the ZoomaChews line in the store.
“So, I think we’re pretty on-point with conveying how ZoomaChew provides a more engaging playtime with your dog,” says Petersen. “Have a fun time with your dog while you’re giving him a treat—that’s ZoomaChew.”
Looking forward, Petersen says retailers can expect to see Royal Pet continue to expand the production capabilities of its treat factory. “We want to keep pushing that side of business, and if we don’t have the ability to make a certain type of treat, we’re going to get the equipment to do it,” he explains. “That is where a lot of our exponential growth is going to come from.”
According to Petersen, it’s all part of Royal Pet’s goal of remaining a partner that can deliver a real difference for retailers, whether its through private labeling or with its branded product lineup. “We’re trying to be the best solution-oriented vendor that they can come across—that’s our culture.” PB