eCommerce Success Story: Natural Dog Food by Farmer's Dog

  • Pets are a growing market segment. Discover the eCommerce success story of Farmer’s Dog.

  • Those of us who have animals at home know well that we have a special bond with them. We are responsible for our animals and want to give them the best quality of life.

    There is a huge market around pets: toys, accessories, fashion... and food, of course. eCommerce has been taking advantage of these extraordinarily profitable niches for years.

    In this post, we are going to tell you about the success story of Farmer’s Dog, and how an idea from a home kitchen grew to serve 100,000,000 servings of healthy pet food.
  • The Idea Behind Farmer’s Dog

  • Before talking about online stores or marketing strategies, it is essential to focus on the sparks that start everything, those insights that light the bulb.

    In this case, the premise is simple: if we want to improve the quality and life expectancy of animals, we must give them a natural diet.

    The benefits are clear: it better controls the weight of dogs, gives them more energy, and reduces many health problems, ranging from better dental health to lowering the risk of cancer.

    To sum up, animals live longer, better, and you save a lot of money on vets.
  • INSIGHT: Businesses that stem from a real need and can convey their mission and vision as a solution have a significant advantage: who would not want their dog to live longer and better?
  • How Farmer’s Dog Started

  • As one of the founders of Farmer’s Dog says, animals are living beings like people. Therefore, if we know that ultra-processed foods are unhealthy, why do we feed our pets dry kibble that we do not even know the exact contents of?

    Brett, who would become a key figure in Farmer’s Dog, started cooking with fresh ingredients to feed Jada, his Rottweiler puppy with digestive problems. Despite trying all the brands on the market, no industrial kibble helped.

    The result was surprisingly effective, though logical. Jada began to eat better, and her health improved. Brett told his friend Jonathan about it, and together, they saw a scalable business model here.
  • INSIGHT: A good idea must be validated before becoming a business. The first step is always to test it on other consumers within the same target, even if initially they are people in our environment.
  • The Product

  • Farmer’s Dog started with two friends cooking to the rhythm of Doo Wop in a home kitchen. Years later, as the business grew, they moved to professional facilities and incorporated veterinary nutrition specialists. They professionalized as much as possible, seeking the best experience.

    If the idea was to compete with an industrial product that uses unknown and unrecognizable ingredients (often from diseased animals not fit for human consumption), Farmer’s Dog’s product not only had to be healthy but also had to seem to be healthy.

    In each serving of their dog food, the ingredients are visible. You can see and smell them: if you are giving your pet beef with vegetables, you can see the pieces of meat, the carrots, the potatoes...

    In some way, and saving the distances, it looks more like baby food than dog food.
  • INSIGHT: This is a product-based business, and they have made it the core of their strategy. They are so confident in the quality that they say it is “tested on humans” (taking cruelty-free to the extreme).
  • Business Model and Distribution

  • It is relatively common for businesses to fail from success when scaling. In the case of Farmer’s Dog, they had certain conditions to consider when defining their business direction:

    • Perishable Product: Natural ingredients are less durable. This affects the company’s logistics management and the user because, unlike commercial kibble, they must store the product safely and cannot stockpile large quantities.
    • Profitability Depends on Recurrence: The goal must be to retain customers to ensure sufficient order volume. One-off purchases do not allow for consolidation, and the nature of the product is ideal for creating a critical mass of monthly buyers.
    • Positioning in a High-Price Segment: Competitors offer much lower prices per kilo and use the same claims (organic, healthy).

    With all this in mind, the optimal way to market the product is through an online store. Why? Mainly because it is the best way to control the entire distribution chain and because, by working directly with the customer, establishing a subscription model with recurring purchases is easier.

    Regarding the third point, positioning, the online channel is perfect for spreading information, relying on studies, showing who is behind the brand, empathizing with the customer, and creating a personalized proposal.
  • INSIGHT: Subscription for products purchased regularly is already an almost perfect model, but if the products also have a short life cycle (even if they can be frozen), conceiving the business as a service is a great idea.
  • The Online Store:

  • Do not expect the classic online store with a search bar and categories. It works in a completely different way.

    The main model is through a subscription. What is interesting is how the offer is generated. It is a bit lengthy for what we are used to, but it is handled so personally that it actually feels short.

    They could just ask us the breed and weight of the dog, but through the tool, without us realizing it, they gather much more information (age, animal’s temperament, customer’s goals...).

    At the end of the process, we preview the recommendations in bags like the ones we wll receive, with the animal’s name on the label. All that is left is to put them in the cart and check out.
  • INSIGHT: Personalization is a plus. Something as simple as personalizing the packaging makes us feel the product is our own.
  • Additionally, we have the option to subscribe to receive a recipe book to prepare our own dishes. They do not sell the ingredients per se, but they do offer packets containing additional nutrients to promote a healthy diet for our pets.
  • INSIGHT: Today’s subscribers can be tomorrow’s customers who buy prepared food. Plus, with the packets, we achieve a certain business besides gathering user data.
  • Key Success Factors of Farmer’s Dog

    • An Emotional Business: You see it in every text, testimonial, and social media update; they constantly appeal to your pets living longer, accompanying you for more time and healthier. This touches the less rational side of their customers.
    • Scientific Basis: If you visit their website, you will find discussions about preventable diseases, reports on commercial kibble, and more. They provide authority from the moment there is a large team of veterinarians validating their proposal.
    • Personalization: If you are going to fight in the market with a high price, you have to offer something in return. Personalization justifies that cost increase.
    • Social Media: Think about it: what is most shared on social media? Indeed, photos and videos of pets. They have brilliantly worked their profiles to reach the community most sensitive to pets' needs.
    • Subscription: Far from feeling like committing to a mid-term obligation, customers perceive it as receiving a solution that makes their life easier.
  • Did you know about this online store? What inspired you most about this eCommerce success story?

Miguel Nicolás

Miguel Nicolás O'Shea is a life-long copywriter (more than 15 years working in agencies) and a specialist in Search Marketing (SEO and PPC). From now on, he will contribute with his online marketing experience to Oleoshop, publishing regularly.

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