BarkBox: The ‘New Generation’ Pet Brand

By John EganAugust 3, 2015

BarkBox is taking an ever-bigger bite of the US pet industry.

Through an online service with 200,000 subscribers and growing, BarkBox provides monthly delivery of toys, chews and all-natural treats for pampered pooches across the US. BarkBox says its boxed-up offerings “match your dog’s unique preferences.”

More than anything, though, BarkBox is catering to the preferences of potentially millions of dog owners in the US. After all, they’re the ones who are coughing up the canine cash.

About 45 million American households own dogs, according to market research company Packaged Facts. And those households fork over billions of dollars on pet food, supplies and other products each year. In 2015, the pet products industry is projected to approach nearly $60.6 billion, according to the American Pet Products Association. That’s up from a little more than $58 billion in 2014.

Packaged Facts calls the pet business “one of the most dynamic parts of the US economy.” According to Franchise Help, “Growth in the sector is derived both from increasing pet ownership as well as from increased spending per pet.”

BarkBox is a rising player in the online market for pet products in the US — a market that’s expected to reach $1.86 billion in 2015, according to Statista.

BarkBox co-founder and CEO Matt Meeker, the devoted parent of a Great Dane named Hugo, said the growth of the subscription service for doggy goodies has exceeded his expectations.

“I sort of expected to be sending 10 boxes a month to the 10 craziest, most fanatical dog parents out there. That would have been just fine, by the way, as long as my dog was getting good stuff,” Meeker said.

His dog, and thousands of others in the US, are now getting the good stuff from BarkBox. And that’s attracted the attention of investors. Last year, Bark & Co., the parent company of BarkBox, raised $15 million in funding. Meeker and two other entrepreneurs founded the New York-based startup in 2011.

Bark & Co. has ventured beyond its inaugural product to roll out a blog, a veterinarian-on-demand service, mobile apps, an e-commerce site and in-house product line. At the upcoming LeadsCon New York, Rob Schutz, head of growth and marketing at BarkBox, will speak at a session on social media advertising.

“Bark & Co. has taken a smart approach to capitalize on people’s love of dogs in building this doggie-themed empire of e-commerce services, subscription offerings, content sites and apps,” TechCrunch says.

This year, Bark & Co. is poised to post $75 million in revenue, according to Fast Company. In 2013, Meeker expressed hopes of building his pup into a $5 billion company within five years.

Given that giants like Purina and Petco dominate the pet industry, is Meeker barking up the wrong tree? He certainly doesn’t think so.

“We’re the new generation pet brand. We’re more digital. Our generation treats our dogs differently,” Meeker told Business Insider. “The big pet companies don’t connect to us at all, and they’re not innovative.”

Click here to register for LeadsCon New York 2015.

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