Kat Knocker is customer director at Tails.com, the tailor-made subscription dog food service, and is also one of the excellent speakers at 2018’s Festival of Marketing (get your tickets here).
I caught up with Kat to ask a few questions and get our readers excited ahead of her Festival talk.
Econsultancy: Many incumbent brands across FMCG are slowly improving their direct-to-consumer efforts (in Purina’s case by acquiring a majority stake in Tails.com). Beyond convenience, have these bigger brands learnt along the way?
Kat Knocker: That one size does not fit all! Customers want to be treated like individuals, and want products and services that meet their needs and fit in with their lifestyles. Embracing technology makes this possible.
Brands are also increasingly seeing the benefit of getting great innovation into the hands of customers more quickly. Traditional bricks and mortar selling methods and complex supply chains have added steps that can get in the way of delivering new products, but increasingly brands are finding new and innovative ways to deliver fast innovation. And they’re becoming less afraid to fail; applying test and learn approaches more frequently to both their ranges and how they sell them.
E: To what extent do you have to do offline marketing and events to make things ‘real’ for your target audience?
KK: We’re a digital business, so we rely a lot on our product to share the magic of tails.com. We invest in offering our customers a free trial, because we know that once they receive their first box and experience having their dog’s food made just for them that it’ll really bring to life what we do. We just need to get our product into our customers’ hands, and into their dogs’ bowls!
We also run a lot of marketing activity that allows us to have direct face-to-face communications with our customers. Consumer events and shows are really special for us because they allow us to really demonstrate that level of knowledge and support in our team that our customers get to experience every day, and are often a great way to say hi to some loyal customers in person.
E: Are you placing any bets on the next wave of innovation in your sector?
KK: Something we continue to see in pet food is the adoption of human [health] trends, so we are always working on ways to make sure we’re giving choices that customers want balanced with the nutritional needs of their pets. For example, a big theme at the moment is gut health, which is becoming more widely understood from a human food perspective and is equally important for dogs, so we’re working on introducing a product to our range that delivers benefits in this area.
Technology is also something that is really starting to penetrate the pet food sector. We were the first brand to use technology to disrupt the very traditional market, and we want to keep ahead of the curve!
We’re currently looking at how we can use AI in a way that bests suits the needs of our customers as their expectations continue to change, but in a way that feels genuine and compliments the one-to-one relationships we’ve already built with our customers.
E: How do you keep adding value for loyal customers?
KK: We create a unique recipe for every dog in the taste they love and with the nutrition they need. But a dog’s needs evolve over time, and so, therefore, does our food. We adjust every dog’s recipe as they age, so our customers never have to switch food.
It’s not just the recipe that’s unique for each dog; the service we offer each customer is as tailor-made as our food. Our award-winning team of customer experience specialists, vets and nutritionists are on hand to help with one-to-one support and advice via phone, email and social media. They offer bespoke support throughout our customers’ lives with their dogs, from tips on how to care for a new puppy through to nutritional advice for dogs with a new health condition, or simply someone wanting to change the taste of their dog’s food. We have some customers who call in regularly, and we genuinely take time to celebrate as a team when we’ve helped improve the quality of a customer and their dog’s life together.
And for customers who just want to be in control of their account themselves, we’re constantly developing new tools to make sure this is possible too. If a customer wants to delay their next box, change the delivery address to their holiday cottage, or let us know that their dog has gained a little weight, we make this as easy as possible for them to do online at any time of day.
If you want to hear more from Tails.com’s Kat Knocker, come along to the Festival of Marketing 2018 (get your tickets here).