Mar 1, 2010
By Melissa Breau
Marshall Pet Products has always believed in a golden standard; the company's mission is to offer consumers the highest quality pets and products on a global basis. The company began in 1939 as a small breeding farm for pet ferrets. It has grown a lot since then, branching out and manufacturing products for ferrets–everything from toys to nutrition items–then branching into other animal products within the small animal category, including adding rabbits to its live animal breeding programs. Now the company has even entered the cat category, and has been quite successful so far.
The company comprises several sister companies. Marshall Farms still breeds and raises animals, and Marshall Pet Products, which was formed in 1993, is responsible for manufacturing Marshall products and for distributing both the products and the live animals. The company's products include hammocks, harness and lead sets, bell collars, vitamins, supplements, toys and grooming products. Marshall's fantastic distribution network allows the company to bring its products to pet stores nationwide.
Marshall Ingredients, the other sister company, manufactures the ingredients used in Marshall's pet food lines.
The Door to Success
In 2009, with the launch of its Goodbye Odor for cats, the company entered the cat category. According to Peter Reid, Marshall Pet Products' president and chief operations officer, this latest expansion developed because ferret owners frequently maintain multi-pet households. “When opportunity knocks, that window of opportunity only stays open for so long,” says Reid. “And opportunity has knocked.”
Marshall had long been successful with its ferret odor-control product– according to Reid, it's one of the company's best sellers. But ferret parents aren't the only pet owners that have to worry about smell. The new Goodbye Odor line for cats utilizes the same ideas as Marshall's ferret product, offering all-natural odor control that works internally to control external odors. The product, made from a natural mushroom extract, is added to a cat's food or water. Its unique, patented blend of natural amino acids and enzymes then act within the cat's digestive system to eliminate odors from urine and stool–and even body odors–at the source. According to the company, pet owners should notice a major reduction of odors within a week.
When Marshall considered the number of ferret owners who also owned cats and dogs, expanding into those categories seemed like a natural extension. Marshall used the opportunity to build on its existing relationship with customers. “Customers are familiar with our brand and [expanding into new categories] gives them the confidence of high quality that they're receiving now with the ferret category, in other categories,” says Reid.
Marketing and Research
The company has been very careful when introducing product expansions like this, says Reid, in order to ensure they are done correctly. Marshall Pet Products is using a multi-pronged approach, introducing the new products in conjunction with a public-relations campaign to raise consumer awareness, a sampling program and new POP materials. As a result, Reid says that Goodbye Odor for cats is seeing good placement and is already doing quite well.
He emphasized that maintaining product quality is a top priority for Marshall. Each product undergoes its own safety program before being released. “We're using human-grade ingredients for developing these products,” he says, adding that the odor line isn't the only ferret product line that he foresees being adapted for new categories. Retailers can expect Marshall to continue to offer new products that offer natural solutions and that complement its existing product line–and he hints that several of those may become available this year.
“It's an ongoing process; it's an evolution,” says Reid. “We adapt and change, adapt and change. As a company, we're good at that.”