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NEW DELHI : Samriddh Dasgupta joined premium pet care retail chain Heads Up For Tails as chief marketing officer in October. The pet grooming and products company, which has 40 stores across seven metros, apart from online presence, recently raised 277 crore in a Series A round. Dasgupta said new-age consumer firms are creating unique playbooks to market their brands. Heads Up For Tails relies on organic consumer posts on social media platforms and is looking to engage pet influencers as it enters new markets. Edited excerpts from an interview:

What’s your mandate?

We are here to make the lives of pets and pet parents far easier. It’s a very joyous journey. I’m a pet parent myself, so I have been through this journey for the last 39 years. I’ve realized you never have the most relevant knowledge or products that aid that journey. The mandate here is really to try and influence people to arrive at what is the best possible way of doing that. We are sitting at an intersection of content and commerce, we genuinely believe that we have an opportunity to spread awareness and engage with people in meaningful ways where they’re able to learn. We have 14 years of experience…and we are also able to forecast a lot of trendlines. Therefore, we create products that are a little ahead of time, but become extremely relevant as you go forward. We are also extremely omni-channel. We own our stores, so the experience is completely in our control. The mandate is also to ensure that there is a technology layer on top of our omni-channel integration, and have a unified customer experience and journey across our touch-points.

Who’s your target consumer?

SECs (socio-economic categories) and age groups are old-school formats to classify customers. We classify customers in terms of aspiration and life stages. Anyone who has a dog, or a cat, anyone who is a pet lover, is our audience. It’s an extremely large, diverse set of age groups that we solve for. We are solving for emerging markets, so it’s not just the top five cities, we are steadily entering into the top 15-20 cities.

It’s also the way the market has expanded over the last 18 months. There are two or three things that have happened. A demographic shift has happened which has enabled younger people to adopt dogs and cats, and really start allocating the share of wallet. We are also seeing a growth curve between age groups of 18 to 24, which earlier was 24 to 45.

The tier-II markets is now essentially people having gone back home and are now working from home. They are used to the kind of products they used to get when they were in the larger cities—that has again led to an influx in terms of accessibility. The third piece is many couples and single people have adopted dogs for companionship during this pandemic period—that’s also another emerging area of growth.

What’s your overall social media strategy?

The brand is built organically. We have not had too many influencer engagements. Our influencer engagement is actually user-generated content. We are a very creator-first brand, where, every person who buys our product is a creator.

People are buying and speaking about it because they love it. They come back to us if they don’t like it. For us, social is about listening to them. If you go through our Instagram, you’ll see that each comment is very thoughtfully replied to—95% of our direct messages are replied to within a period of four-to-six hours. However, it might look very different as we go ahead because we are entering new markets. We are looking at emerging influencers and pet parents who are influencers, and we are trying to see if there is a way that we can co-create content with them.

What are your learnings from working with new-age brands?

My first foray into internet was around 2015 when I was leading (marketing at) Dineout. This accessibility of technology, no-code solutions and an ecosystem, which comes together to drive better engagement and better access to products and choices for the end customer—I think that’s become extremely prevalent and easy.

It’s not very difficult to straddle an internet-first business with an omni-channel business.

I don’t think the ecosystem has changed—what’s changed is the consumer preference behaviour. We are now able to track the consumer across the channel and then we have a unified view of how you buy and what your behaviour is.

So, the difference is that marketers today have been armed with a lot of data which enables us to bring products which are more relevant.

 

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