Why We Are Advertising? To encourage young couples to adopt pets and share their experience through social media. Who are we talking to? “Newly Independent Family Experimenters,” or couples that are young professionals entering a new, more independent phase of their life. They are between 23 and 30 years old and have a college degree. They are cohabitating with their significant other and have a low to midrange income of $25,000 to $50,000 per year. They are financially independent. They don’t yet have children but are looking to have children in the future. They are technologically savvy and interact regularly with social media. What do we know about them that might help us? (Key Consumer Insight) We’re not quite ready for children, but we are ready to take on more responsibility. We know that the shared responsibility of a pet would help strengthen our relationship and give us a good idea of the parenting skills we need to work on - a trial run with a dog seems a lot safer than a trial run with an actual baby. Even though money is tight sometimes, we think a pet would be the perfect addition to our little family. Plus, you never know when your pet is going to make you Vine famous. Takeaway Learn to avoid those first time parent mistakes before you’re even a first time parent - a furry friend isn’t quite a baby, but it’s a great start. Support
Pets are a learning opportunity before young families are ready for kids. Often times young couples choose to adopt a pet to test their parenting skills. Newly weds, or cohabiter, like to have a joint responsibility that helps their relationship grow
Tonality Fun and heartwarming. Creative Nuggets “Fur babies” It’s a less expensive, less dangerous trial run for having a baby. Don’t become the next Parent Fail meme.
Secondary Research Overview According to a recent Mintel study titled “America’s Pet Owners”, there are two large demographic opportunities for pet adoption and ownership. The first demographic encompasses families with young children. Mintel cited that pet adoption is largely driven and influenced by young children - therefore marketing efforts should target children. The report later mentioned that it is important to consider that many households are delaying marriage and that the average age of married couples is becoming older. The next marketing opportunity focused on newly married couples and cohabitating couples without children. Mintel stated “For childless households, marketers may want to frame the concept of pets as a potential temporary substitute for kids, especially as many childless households may be postponing marriage or pregnancy until their financial situation stabilizes.” We felt that this was a somewhat unreached target and a large opportunity for The Humane Society of the United States because current and previous marketing efforts don’t speak to the needs of this audience. Baby Center, a popular blog about parenthood, cited that more couples are choosing “fur babies” babies over children. The article states “It seems that more and more couples are adopting pets in response to the economic downturn. To put it plainly, it costs too much to have a child. In “Pets are becoming “surrogate children” as couples seek fewer responsibilities, couples choose animal surrogates because they have a need to nurture. And so, they treat their pets as if they were little humans.” In addition, an article from lifestyle and parenting website femalefirst.com states “A pet dog or cat may become a "surrogate child", and be given the family position of a boy or girl, without many of the responsibilities such as clothing or or schooling.” Many see pets as a member of their family, they’ve grown up with pets around and place a significant value on those memories. From our research, we found that overarching factors in the delay of pregnancy are financial and emotional investments. We don’t want our campaign to overtly express pet adoption as a cheaper alternative to having a child - but it’s a consumer motivation that we felt is important to acknowledge. Our primary research allowed us to dive deeper into consumer motivations about pet adoption. Primary Research Overview From our primary research we found that cohabitating young professional couples desire to have ownership of something than they can share responsibilities. Insights from our primary research was very valuable in the development of this creative brief. For our informational interviews we contacted people that were young professionals that were beginning their own independent lives. Each of these contacts are between 23 and 30 years old and are employed and no longer depending on their parents
financially. We wanted to learn how this group of people live on a daily basis and what their attitudes are about pet ownership. Core Insight: Pet Ownership is Influenced by Childhood Pets While conducting the research our target continued to narrow. Melissa Hostetler is a single 26 year old young professional, and we gained significant research insights from her. She explained that although she was a pet owner as a child that at this point in her life she would be nervous to own a pet. As a kid, she had siblings and parents to share the burden of caring for a pet, now she fears that if she had to travel for work or plans a weekend away she would need to arrange for her pet to be taken care of. This, as well as our secondary research, led us to narrow our target to young cohabitating couples. These couples can divide the responsibility of pet ownership and it allows them to own a pet, but still maintain their busy work schedules. Core Insight: Pets as a Joint Project When we interviewed young couples we discovered that they are a large opportunity for potential pet ownership. Chip and Sarah Cobler adopted their cats within only a month of being married. They view their cats as a fun project that they can work on together. â€œProjectâ€?, Chip made clear, sounds like an odd word to describe pets, but it is work to own pets and he felt that the work wasnâ€™t easy but it was fun to do it together. Chip and Sarah work, but often their schedules stagger a bit and they are able to easily cover for each other as far as caring for the cats go. They constantly share stories and photos of funny or cute things that their cats do on Facebook and Twitter. They also said they would suggest owning cats to friends in a similar situation as theirs. These behaviors made us confident that this target would not only be great potential pet owners, but also that they could pass the message along using social media which will encourage others to adopt pets. Ransom, Chips older brother, and his wife do not own pets because they are temporarily living in Denver. Ransom took a new job in Virginia which will be more steady and they now plan to get cats or a dog soon. Kristen mentioned that seeing the fun that Chip and Sarah have with their cats definitely influenced her desire to have pets. In addition all four of the Coblers were pet owners as children which is a trend and important factor seen in all of our interviews. Throughout the primary research we learned from all the interviews that the ability to divide up the responsibility of pets as well as the desire to care for the pet together were important drivers in the category. Lastly these young professionals are not quite established financially in a lot of cases and it was noted that adopting a pet is usually a cheaper alternative to buying a purebred dog that can cost hundreds of dollars. This target was clear that although it does cost money to buy food and other supplies for their pets, that they consider themselves financially stable enough to deal with this issue and believe it is worth it to have the pets in their lives.
All of these insights from the interviews helped us define our target more specifically and assisted in the process of creatively developing a brief that matches this targets personality.
Discussion Guide: Purpose: To gain insight from young professionals about their pet adopting behavior. Who we talked to: • Melissa Hostetler: 26, lives alone, works as a special needs teacher, has a college degree and has been a pet owner in the past. • Chip & Sarah Cobler: 23&24, recently married and living in Chicago. Owners of 2 cats. • Luke & Kayla Johnson: 24&22, recently married and living in rural Iowa. Owners of dogs and cats in the past. • Ransom & Kristen Cobler: 26, married 2 years ago living in Virginia. No Pets • Kirbie & Trey Seiser: 26&24, married a few months ago and living in Des Moines, IA. Owners of dogs in the past, currently own two cats. Individual interviews: 1. How much time do you spend at home? • PROBE: understand how much time is available to care for pets and if pets would be too time consuming? 2. When you are home, how do spend your time? • PROBE: understand how much free time this target has at this stage in life and discover if pet ownership would even be realistic. 3. Is pet ownership something that interests you? • PROBE: discover if this target is interested in owning pets and caring for them. 4. What barriers do you have to pet ownership? • PROBE: understand the reasons people are foregoing pets. Cost, space, renting apartments. How can we counter those barriers? 5. How do you think owning pets as a kid influenced your view on pets now? • PROBE: openness to pet ownership, leveraging past experience, path to adulthood 6. What do you think are some benefits of pet ownership? • PROBE: mental and physical health benefits, strengthening social bonds, developing responsibility 7. Do you think pet ownership would be manageable for you? Why/Why not? • PROBE: discover the ability and time available to manage pet ownership. 8. How do you think pet ownership would affect your current social life?
PROBE: strengthening bond with significant other, expanding social circle, less time for friends
Presentation ideas The key take away from our brief is that young married couples could benefit from having the responsibility of a pet because it would help them prepare to have children. We also want to encourage the use of social media and the trend of sharing Vines as well as creating Memes for Facebook and Twitter. This trend is very popular with pets. Young social media savvy people are sharing their pet stories online and laughing with a greater community of pet owners about the experiences they have. To inspire the creatives, we would begin by having them search for their favorite pet meme and share it. Hopefully, this would capture the fun, lighthearted tone we’d like for the campaign. Then we would have them contrast some of the funny pet memes with funny child memes - like “Parenting Fails.” We want to highlight some of the common first parent mistakes that can be avoided by learning to care for a pet. Of course we wouldn’t drive at anything that would cause serious harm or injury or child or pet but contrasting a baby eating a spaghetti dinner versus a dog eating kibble from a bowl gives a pretty clear example of the difference in responsibility. Then we would show some of our own examples of the differences between pets and children while highlighting the aspect of family building. We want to emphasize that young couples see pets as a way to build their relationship and take the next step in building their family without making the ultimate commitment of a child. While this campaign will be fun and drive at the popular trend of social media memes, we want to capture the heartwarming aspect of building a family. To further drive our point home, we would have the creatives rate the difficulty of tasks with children versus pets and share any good stories they have. Do they think potty training a child or a dog would be harder? This would inspire a lot of different angles to address in the advertising and again highlight the difference in responsibility between a pet and a child. Throughout the presentation we would highlight that young couples want to consider pet ownership before having a child to function almost like a trial run.
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