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If you’re involved in a business in the pet sector, you may have realized that there’s good money to be had from retailing dog toys. This generation of dog owners is all about crafting memorable experiences with their fur babies and treating them to safe, fun, and high-quality toys and merchandise. That sensibility has likely driven an uptick in the sale of creative dog toys and other dog merchandise such as custom martingale collars. Many establishments in the pet industry—such as pet shops, dog boarding and daycare centers, dog shelters, and veterinary clinics—have thought of selling these to improve their bottom line.
Doing the same may prove beneficial to your business. Selling your own dog toys and other specialty items can diversify your income stream and allow you to earn more than you already do for your business’s main product or service. It’s also possible to launch a line of dog products to fund a special cause, like a fostering program. There’s even the option to concentrate all your business efforts on producing dog toys and marketing these items full-time. But there’s one thing you need to pay attention to, no matter how dog toys and merchandise play into your business model: how you will go about the design process.
For businesses interesting in kickstarting their own line of specialty dog items like toys, here are some important design tips to follow. Paying special attention to the design process could make all the difference in the success and longevity of these products. This is how you can ensure that your efforts count.
Stay True to Your Brand Identity and Values
Dog toys may be a new endeavor for you, but don’t forget that they should be like every other product or service you launch—that is, consistent with your brand identity and values. For example, if you advocate for better pet safety and pet health, create products that allow buyers to make a natural connection to that advocacy. If you want to sell toys to fund the adoption of shelter dogs, you can craft products that recall your brand’s ideas of home, happiness, comfort, and second chances.
Whenever you come up with a new idea for an item, see how you can link it back to what your business stands for. Faithfulness to your brand, among other things, is what will make this new business endeavor a worthwhile one for you.
Find Partners to Innovate With
The second design tip you should follow is to pursue innovation. The market for the most common dog toys, like chew ropes and frisbees, may be highly oversaturated at this point. If you have the opportunity, try to brainstorm with other professionals in the industry for products that are original and will make a lasting impression on buyers. If you have a strong network of partner innovators, you’ll be able to design some pretty special items.
Research extensively about people you can hire or collaborate with on a project basis for your line of dog toys. You may be surprised to learn about the level of skill and specialization that already exists in this niche. For example, you can partner with designers who use computer-aided design (CAD) software and 3D printing technologies to model dog toys. Keep your mind open and see what these professionals have to say about producing your own dog toy line.
Don’t Compromise on Quality and Safety
If there’s one thing you should remember about producing your own line of dog toys, it’s that you should never, ever compromise on quality and safety. Pet owners who will buy your products will want to feel like the items are worth the money. Moreover, they seek assurance that the items are completely safe and comfortable for their dogs to use. The items should not break easily, serve as choking hazards, or be easy to ingest by accident.
Before you start production, make a commitment to avoid cutting corners. Research exhaustively on the best materials to use, and don’t launch the products until you get the most favorable test results.
Emphasize User Experience—for Both Dogs and Humans—as a Unique Selling Point
If you want your dog toys to be profitable, you need to highlight user experience as a cornerstone of their design. That applies to both dogs and humans who will be supervising each items’ use.
Some characteristics that you can emphasize about your products include the following:
- That your dog toys and merchandise items are easy to use.
- That your items are easy to put away when playtime is over.
- That your products are a good size for the dog breeds that may be using them.
- That your dog toys fit the temperament and common characteristics of the dogs they’re suited for.
- That your toys are highly adaptable and can be used both at home and outside, like in the neighborhood park.
- That your products are not easily breakable after a few uses.
- That your dog toys and other merchandise items are a breeze to clean and maintain.
Make it clear that both dogs and humans will have a great user experience when they buy your items. Along with convincing pet owners to purchase your products, it will also increase word of mouth promotion and result in higher trust for your pet brand.
Go for Product Names, Colors, and Shapes That Stick
Lastly, design your items so that they leave a lasting impression on buyers. Go for distinctive colors and shapes, and decide on product names that can instinctively appeal to dog owners. It’s not all too difficult to look into the demographics of dog owners and discover their adjacent interests or the humor they enjoy.
Go with what’s “sticky,” or what will make brand recall and brand distinction easy for your customers. That will help them remember your dog toy line and perhaps choose it over those of your competitors.
Some Final Tips for Producing Your Own Dog Toy Line
On top of the design tips mentioned above, here are a few more suggestions for making the most out of your new dog toy line:
- Before formally launching your products, you may want to call for dog toy testers who can give you some important initial feedback. To attract testers, you can send out ads inviting them to sign up for free or discounted samples. When you receive feedback about your products, listen carefully.
- If you’re selling the items from a physical establishment, make sure that they’re immediately visible to your customers. Promote them on other channels, such as social media, for example.
- Remember that it isn’t just the design of the toys you should pay attention to. The infrastructure for selling the merchandise also counts. If you want to sell your products online, invest in an e-commerce platform that’s appealing and intuitive for your customers. Give them the opportunity to look at your products up close and visualize the play experiences that they can have with their dogs.
With hard work and careful decision-making, you’ll be able to launch a toy line that will appeal to dogs and dog owners alike. Here’s to your design process and the prospect of pleasing—or rather, paw-leasing—your customers!
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