Banfield Pet Hospital’s ‘After Party’ Video Series Appeals to Pet Influencers to Target Gen Z and Millennials

It’s perhaps no surprise that more than 23 million households have adopted a new pet during the pandemic. We’ve seen them all: those first-time pet owners who seemed to get their dogs walked rather than the other way around. What may be surprising, however, is that the vast majority were Gen Z and Millennial owners. So when it came to marketing Banfield Pet Hospital, the largest private veterinary practice in the states United, the brand sought to reach the group on the social platforms they know and love.

Enter the After the Banfield party, a series of short digital videos made by and for pet lovers featuring guest influencers, artists and, of course, a collection of pets with extensive social media followings. The brand saw a 400% increase in social media followers thanks to the series and garnered 15 million impressions on Facebook and Instagram. “It was truly a boon for pets. We were all stuck in our homes, and the companionship and love that pets provide was really needed,” says Lisa Stockmon, the company’s CMO. It was a great time to tap into that energy in an entertaining way.” We spoke with her about marketing the hospital during the pandemic, growing its Gen Z base, brand awareness, and the reliability of the company.

Chief Marketer: What was the inspiration behind the video series?

Lisa Stockmon, CMO, Banfield Pet Hospital: We wanted to proactively reach out and make sure we connected with our Gen Z and Millennial owners. As we all know, pet videos are often shared. So he was mining all that user-generated content and having fun with it. We do all social channels—Instagram, Facebook, YouTube. It hits all the places that consumer typically goes. And we also use our existing channels.

CM: How did you choose the pets to feature in the series?

LS: A lot of that was based on the popularity of some of the influencers we used and the ones that were successful, or quite frankly, we fell in love with. We’ve seen a lot of research on the animal-human bond, and we’ve tried to find the ones that have some interest and are relatable. The love for pets has only grown during the pandemic, and that’s what we do for a living, so we tapped into that energy. This is the work we do at Banfield. It’s mission-based. Everyone is driven by the love of pets, but during the pandemic this has been especially meaningful.

CM: Since there are so many more first-time pet owners, has your business changed at all during the pandemic?

LS: Absoutely. There is a very good statistic: more than 23 million households got a new pet during the pandemic. And the pet population is driven by Gen Z and Gen Y owners, with 80% of Gen Zers currently owning a pet. Among people who adopted pets during COVID, 13% were first-time pet owners. It was truly a godsend for the pets. We were all stuck in our house, and the companionship and love that pets provide was sorely needed. So it was the perfect time to tap into that energy in an entertaining way. And we’ve had some success. Banfield After Party media has generated over 50 million impressions among Gen Z and Millennials. We have seen a 400% increase in our social media follower growth since the launch of the Afterparty.

CM: Did you achieve the desired marketing objectives for the campaign?

LS: There was certainly a lot of enthusiasm behind it. When I think about what we hoped to accomplish, we were able to grow our Gen Z subscriber base, generate brand awareness and trust, further amplify our campaign and marketing efforts for a short term period and increase brand recall.

CM: We talked a bit about how your business has changed. How has this affected your marketing?

LS: We look at the human-animal bond and how best to leverage and support that relationship. We are here for the health of your pet. And it’s great for our customers to know that we understand you, that we are authentic. We also love pets and want them to stay healthy. We want them to remain part of your family. On the contrary, it gave us the opportunity, like most marketers, to be relevant. What I love about pets is that it allowed us to be further into your home. And now that entertainment value has been amplified.

CM: When it comes to reaching and targeting Gen Z and Millennial audiences, had you done that long before? How did you approach it strategically?

LS: This is an expansion of our existing efforts. We have to be where our customers are. When you look at the pet population, [the growth] is run by Gen Z and millennial owners. The strategy was to ensure that all of our current and potential customers know that we understand and care for your pet. This relationship, this bond, is very important. It’s part of our long-term strategy, but audiences and Gen Z are growing. The dollars are there. These are the people who in the past five years have had new pets. So we have a whole new segment that we want to make sure we serve.

CM: Let’s shift gears a bit… What trends should marketers be focusing on right now?

LS: I think the whole idea of ​​digital transformation is over. Digital is the way we communicate, and so it’s not necessarily a transformation. This is how you meet that customer where they are. Adopting it is not something you can choose. Consumers now have immediacy. They want to work from home. They want their food delivered while they’re home. And understand that consumer immediacy will lead to some success. We have also seen this at Banfield, which has to adapt to the way we communicate with our parents, the way we text them, the way we provide them with information through all of our digital channels.

CM: For all aspiring CMOs, what qualities does a marketing manager need to have to be successful in today’s business world?

LS: You have to be open-minded. You have to be approachable and you have to always stay strategic. One of the things I tell my team is to be comfortable with being uncomfortable – and how do you welcome that? How to begin to approach it with wonder? There have been so many changes over the past 20 years. It’s about staying on top of the changes that are going to happen over the next 20 years.

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