Brands Connect To The DogEconomy
Idioms do not, strictly speaking, have to make a lot of literal sense, as long as they convey the right mood. They work because even though getting fed up and cake icing don’t have a lot to do with each other in normal life, most people will readily understand the connection when someone describes a situation as “the icing on the cake.”
But “it’s a dog’s life” has never made even metaphorical sense to us, insofar as that phrase is usually meant to denote a bad and grueling situation. Because as far as we can tell, dogs, by and large, are leading pretty good lives. They don’t have jobs, they don’t wear clothes, they spend roughly half their time napping, they like the way literally everything tastes and they are singularly incapable of feeling bored. In fact, while our lives have been largely negatively affected by the last year or so, for dogs, it’s been an altogether terrific experience, with their favorite person being around all the time — and much more excited to take walks than usual.
And then there’s the schwag: the ever-lengthening list of specialty doggie products flooding the market to make your best friend’s life a bit more luxe. Does your doggie have a sweet tooth? There’s a Ben & Jerry’s flavor for that. Sine early 2021, the Unilever-owned ice cream brand has been selling non-dairy frozen treats called “Doggie Desserts” in supermarkets and pet stores.
The ice cream-esque desserts come in two flavors, both named for employees’ pets. There’s “Pontch’s Mix,” which features peanut butter with pretzel swirls, and “Rosie’s Batch,” a combination of pumpkin and mini cookies. Instead of milk, which lactose-intolerant dogs should not have, the “ice cream” contains a sunflower-butter base and other “high-quality ingredients” like sugar, coconut oil and wheat flour. They cost $2.99 for a four-ounce cup or $4.99 for a pack of four.
That’s a high price for doggy ice cream, but the people are buying: According to Nielsen data, sales of dog treats were up 8 percent in 2020, as people staying home with their furry best friends are perhaps a little more open to splurging on their care.
And brands are jumping on board — even beauty brands, according to reports. Because while dogs’ make-up needs remain highly modest, hair care (or, more correctly, fur care) is of paramount importance to any pup wanting to look their best. That’s why luxury hair care brand OUAI launched its $32 Fur Bébé pet shampoo at the end of March. The dog shampoo first debuted in 2018 for a limited-edition run, but proved to be such a hit with pet owners that it’s now a permanent part of the collection.
And brands are experimenting with other splurge-worthy products as well. While pampering dogs and offering them treats aren’t new ideas (although they are now taking more upscale and expensive forms), offering them cannabis products and beers are both fairly new turns in what is considered responsible pet ownership.
As it turns out, offering cannabis products to pets is no longer the province of Grateful Dead fans blowing clouds of smoke into their dogs’ faces before a show. Today’s responsible pet owner is exploring CBD options for their dog, reports New York Magazine. While more studies are needed, there is “plenty of anecdotal evidence suggesting benefits for pets, and many studies are currently in progress,” explains veterinarian Dr. Jamie Richardson of Small Door Veterinary.
Experts, however, recommend using CBD products formulated specifically for dogs and preferably made by veterinary-only firms, as companies making products for humans may not have stringent enough quality standards for animal care.
And if you’re not quite a CBD enthusiast, the market has come up with yet another way to help you and your dog bond: You can share a beer.
In fact, you can even help your four-legged friend find a new career, as Busch has announced it is hosting a contest to hire a four-legged “chief tasting officer” for its popular Busch Dog Brew. To enter, pet parents need to follow the brewing company on social media and submit a picture of their pup to the firm, hashtagged #BuschCTOcontest. Busch started accepting entrants on Tuesday (April 13) and will continue to do so through April 28.
The winner gets $20,000, 10 four-packs of Busch Dog Brew and an $800 prepaid card to purchase pet insurance for their dog. Thus far, the alcohol-free bone broth brew has been highly popular, selling out within 24 hours of its initial release last year.
“The reaction to Busch Dog Brew’s release last year was so overwhelmingly positive that we knew we had a big challenge in year 2 to keep the momentum going,” said Daniel Blake, vice president of value brands at Anheuser-Busch, in a statement. “So to expand the brand this year, we needed a true expert in the space on our team.”
The chief tasting officer’s job includes duties such as “taste-testing, quality control and fulfilling duties as an ambassador for the product and a featured content creator on Busch’s social channels.”
At some previous point in history, a dog’s life might have been an onerous thing, as canines have had many difficult and dangerous jobs in their roughly 11,000 years as humanity’s favorite sidekick. Hunting, herding, fighting off wolves and other predators — all hard work and dangerous.
But in the digital age, a dog’s life seems to involve options like a sunflower butter ice cream and the possibility of a fulfilling career as a beer-taster and social media influencer. We’re just saying, in a universe of options, a dog’s life doesn’t appear to be anywhere near the worst-case outcome.