Spotlight on: Worldwise
By Seth Mendelson
Worldwise, the parent company of the SmartyKat and TrustyPup brands, offers a well-rounded lineup of quality, affordable pet products while staying committed to eco-friendly practices. Supermarkets are not often viewed as the best place to try something different, especially in the pet aisle. However, the team at Worldwise believes that a pithy combination of quality products, affordability and environmental responsibility will get more and more consumers to try their SmartyKat and TrustyPup brands. Thus far, it seems to be working. SmartyKat and TrustyPup continue to gain market share throughout the mass and grocery retail channel at the expense of some well-known companies. With more than 25,000 doors of distribution, SmartyKat and TrustyPup offer a full portfolio of about 200 items across toys, electronic toys, catnip, scratch, furniture, bedding and waste management. “We think that SmartyKat and TrustyPup cover the entire segment and gives retailers the opportunity to offer their shoppers a one-stop solution,” says Kevin Fick, the San Rafael, Calif.-based company’s CEO and president since 2012. “Many mass and grocery retailers do not have all that much space to devote to the cat category and this line-up can satisfy all of their needs. In addition, with more than two decades of experience working with these larger retailers, we are a value-add partner with a very solid supply chain.” Like many companies, Worldwise’s strategy and product mix has been an evolution. Formed in 1990 to market environmentally friendly gardening products, the company got involved with the pet world several years later, with a commitment to producing products with the lowest amount of post-production waste and as many recycled materials as possible. Worldwise has established itself in both the cat and dog segments in the mass and grocery channel with the SmartyKat and TrustyPup brands. Similarly, the specialty channel has embraced Worldwise’s Petlinks brand to be the pet authority throughout the channel. Just to be certain that the company and its products continue to evolve and grow, Fick and his team have launched a five-year plan to update and revitalize Worldwise’s brands. For the mass consumers that means updated and streamlined packaging as well as the introduction of their new brand TrustyPup. “We have updated the look and the feel of the line to be warmer and more inviting to the consumer,” Fick says. “We made the brand more dominant on the packaging, and simplified the message on the product for consumers. Our Complete Needs System, which identifies which products meet the physical, emotional and instinctual needs of the pet, clearly stand out on the packaging as well as our 100% satisfaction and safe for pets guarantees.” Of course, the five-year plan is about more than just cosmetic changes to the company’s packaging. Worldwise is employing animal behaviorists to help it create the right mix of products for consumers and their pets. “We want to continue to learn what the needs are for both dogs and cats, and then ensure we bring solutions to market that meet those needs.” Fick says. “Our strategy is to offer our consumers and retail partners a total program solution.” He says that Worldwise’s strategy for SmartyKat and TrustyPup allows retailers to make a bigger impact within their pet supply section. “When they see these two brands next to each other, there is a dramatic impact on the consumer who is looking for dog and cat solutions,” Fick adds. “We want to help the retailer educate their consumers on what the products offer and why their pets would need them. Between the prominent branding and the Complete Needs System, it’s a powerful combination to drive sales.” Sales analytics play a role too. Fick says that the Worldwise team is adept at helping retailers maximize their overall pet supplies department performance via superb category management analytics. Ensuring that retailers offer the right product mix is a key focus. “When we deal with mass and grocery retailers, we contrast the various trade channels and find the voids in the assortments and determine emerging categories,” he adds. For example, Worldwise introduced the Kathy Ireland Loved Ones Collection for pet specialty retailers and higher-end department stores at Global Pet Expo in Orlando in March. While the line, which offers more than 100 SKUs in such segments as bedding, leashes, collars, feeding, travel and toys, is not designed for mass and grocery retailers with limited space, Fick says it is a perfect example of the innovative thinking going on at Worldwise on how to capture a different consumer. “This is the first collection of any kind that marries functional pet products with the home décor of households,” Fick says, adding that Kathy Ireland, a former supermodel, has a long history of designing and licensing home furnishing products. “Our hope is that retailers will devote a large section to this program and make a cohesive statement that will resonate with all consumers.” Good for pets and planet Worldwise is tackling environmental responsibility head-on, hoping to show the pet industry that a company can be earth-friendly while still producing quality products at the right price. The company uses such recycled materials as plastic bottles and corrugated cardboard to make products, keeping these items out of landfills and using less natural resources in the process. The company’s website says that Worldwise uses a fiberfill blend called EcoRest, made from post-consumer recycled plastic bottles, to add puff and fluff to dog and cat beds and soft toys. This year, Worldwise officials say the company will effectively prevent the equivalent of more than 100 million 16.9-ounce plastic bottles from ever reaching landfills. With a texture that resembles tree bark, a cat’s favorite scratching surface in nature, recycled corrugated cardboard makes an ideal scratcher surface for cat’s claws, say company officials. The recycled cardboard used in Worldwise products is not only recycled, it is also recyclable, biodegradable and compostable. Worldwise also gives new life to the leftover remnants of visco-elastic foam (commonly called “memory foam”) resulting from the production of human beds, pillows, cushions, car seats and other products. These bits and pieces that might otherwise end up in the garbage bin retain all the properties of memory foam, making it a resource to create therapeutic pet beds, the website says. The company also uses reclaimed conventional foam in some of its pet bedding. Officials say Worldwise brand cat products featured certified-organic catnip years before ‘organic’ became a buzzword. Some Worldwise products include a soybean-based foam called Benefoam, an alternative to the more typical petrochemical-based foams used in some dog beds. Benefoam is used to replace a percentage of the other foams used to make its therapeutic beds. Finally, officials say that woods used in Worldwise brand products are renewable, such as bamboo, or come from recycled post-industrial sources.