Don’t just focus on cats and dogs, exporting small pet supplies is also a profitable business
Exporting small pet supplies is a profitable business, not just focusing on cats and dogs
How to do pet e-commerce?
Author | zhifang Email | email@example.com
In 2022, a new cultural trend is rising among young people in China. They use “” as the beginning of their copy on the Internet, using an almost self-deprecating tone to alleviate the troubles in life. This expression is called ” literature”, and the emoji package has also become popular, becoming a new favorite on social media.
Image source: Internet
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More and more people are raising hamsters, and most of them are young people. This small animal is not only popular in the Chinese market, but during the long period of the COVID-19 pandemic, the breeding volume of this pet category in the US market also showed a straight upward trend.
Pet supplies are a popular category of Chinese-made products for export. Cat and dog supplies have become branded and intelligent. With the increase in the number of small pet owners worldwide, the demand for related supplies has also increased.
The branding of Chinese small pet supplies is in its early stages, and a small number of players have begun branding attempts and are going overseas. In 2019, Bukaxing was established in Shenzhen. Among the subdivided categories, hamster supplies were the first area it focused on.
Observational animals, continuous expenditure on landscaping
The history of human domestication of cats and dogs is long, while hamsters only became part of human families in modern times. According to records, the earliest domestication of hamsters can be traced back to the 1930s, when humans used them as laboratory animals. It was not until the 1950s that hamsters became popular pets in Europe and the United States.
After thousands of years of coexistence, there exists a relationship of mutual domestication between humans and cats and dogs. Compared to cats and dogs, hamsters have a small body size, are active at night, and have a low dependence on their owners. This independence is precisely one of the biggest advantages of raising hamsters.
Most hamsters must live alone. After providing a suitable living environment, owners only need to provide water and food, clean and maintain the environment, and pay attention to the hamster’s health. They do not require human companionship. They do not need to be taken out for walks, and do not require a large living space. As a pet for visual enjoyment, raising hamsters requires relatively low effort and is more suitable for young people with a fast-paced lifestyle.
Image source: Bukaxing Amazon Store screenshot
Two characteristics of small pet products can be summarized and concluded from the products sold by Bukaxing: they conform to the pet’s nature and pursue visual effects.
Food, cages, exercise wheels, food bowls, water dispensers, hiding houses, sand bath, and chew toys are essential items for maintaining a hamster’s basic survival. They can all be purchased in one-stop at the Bukaxing store.
After meeting practical needs, the hamster cage becomes a space for the owner’s creativity, and the items placed inside begin to pursue “aesthetic appeal”. The starry sky cage launched by Bukaxing raises the standard of hamster cages, providing a larger space to meet the needs of thicker cushioning materials. The transparent design makes people think of fish tanks, and the movements of small pets in their living environment become a scenic view in the home.
Hiding houses of different shapes. Image source: Bukaxing Amazon Store screenshot
There is a great variety of landscape products for small pets. In order to pursue beauty, both pet owners and brand owners have put a lot of thought into it. For example, they stack different colors of mats layer by layer, make hiding houses in the shape of carrots, tree holes, and acorns, and even chew toys are designed with a sense of fashion. These beautiful, fun, interesting and healing pet landscapes posted on social media undoubtedly attract the attention of pet lovers.
| Design creates differences and emphasizes social media marketing
Design is the biggest difference between Bukaxing’s products and non-standard products, and it is also one of the sources of brand premium. Landscaping is a year-round expense, and innovative new products can guide pet owners to continue to “spend money” to bring comfortable environments to pets, while creating landscapes with different styles and themes.
Image source: Instagram @bucatstate
The recently launched castle ceramic house by the brand combines both appearance and function, and has won the iF Design Award. The suitable temperature for hamsters to survive is 20℃~28℃, and pet owners need to provide cooling and warming supplies to adjust the temperature. This new product is said to solve this problem: it can be equipped with an icebox on the top to cool down in the summer, and can be charged at the bottom to serve as a “floor heating” in winter.
Adopting a design-oriented approach helps to boost Bukaxing’s growth, because social media requires high aesthetics, and DTC brand growth cannot be achieved without the help of social media marketing.
Image source: TikTok @Hamsterland
Pets have always been the most eye-catching content on social media. Observing the trends of various content platforms, it is not difficult to find that there are more and more “hamster bloggers”. Users who love small pets are unlikely to be unattracted to “hamster adventures”. YouTube blogger “The Secret Life of my Hamster” has accumulated more than 5 million fans, and the video of the hamster passing through the maze posted by her has reached tens of millions of views.
This trend has spread to TikTok, where a video of a hamster completing a homemade maze has racked up 2.7 million likes. On the TikTok platform, #hamster-related videos have been viewed 14.2 billion times, while #cat-related videos have been viewed 342.9 billion times. From the perspective of brand owners, the competition for cat and dog products is fierce and it is not easy to stand out on social media channels. The small pet market still has huge growth potential.
Bucastar heavily operates on social media channels such as Xiaohongshu and maintains frequent interactions with fans. It values private traffic and has established influence among hamster owners. This kind of operation is the thinking of DTC brands and has been used on overseas social media platforms.
Image Source: Twitter
A pet blogger on YouTube has created an unboxing video of Bucastar products. On Twitter, hamster owners actively post tweets about purchasing Bucastar products, attracting enthusiastic comments from other hamster owners. Consumers who are both owners and bloggers are active on different content platforms. KOC (key opinion consumers) with small fan bases sometimes have more influence in driving users to place orders than KOL (key opinion leaders) with large fan bases.
Image Source: Instagram
Looking at overseas DTC pet brands, their followers gather on various social media channels and become loyal supporters of brand second-hand transmission and word-of-mouth transmission. Although Bucastar has not yet accumulated a large number of fans on overseas social media channels, its brand concept is consistent with that of overseas DTC pet brands – improving design aesthetics and providing pets with a better life: Wild One emphasizes design priority, functionality, and BarkBox says it wants to make cool pet products for dogs, while Cat Person focuses on the concept of loving cats and therefore makes better cat products.
It can be seen that even if the pet breeds are different, there are commonalities in the branding of overseas pet products. Chinese pet brands can learn from successful DTC (Direct-to-Consumer) pet brands when expanding overseas.
| Benefiting 100 million small pets worldwide: Bukaxing’s ambition
In March 2021, Bukaxing began its global journey, starting with Southeast Asia. Its sales channels consist of online direct stores and local agents. In addition to independent channels, according to its linktree information, Bukaxing has opened Amazon stores in Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States, France, Spain, and Germany.
Hamster products are the first step in Bukaxing’s global expansion. The brand “is committed to creating a healthy and beautiful life for small pets and aspires to benefit 100 million small pets worldwide”. Currently, the brand also sells bird and rabbit products in China.
Dogs and cats are the most popular pets and the pet product market for them is the most crowded. The market share of small mammals such as hamsters and rabbits, birds, fish, and reptiles is much smaller than that of cats and dogs, making the competition in this market less intense.
Using the US market as an example, according to data released by Statista, an online statistical data portal, about 66% of American households will have pets in 2023, a 10% increase from 1988. Pet industry spending has steadily increased, reaching over $136 billion in 2022, almost six times that of 1998.
Compared to e-commerce channels, most pet product sales in the United States still occur offline. This means that there is significant room for growth in the e-commerce channel of pet products, and DTC pet brands also need to pay attention to offline channels.
Many well-known overseas pet brands source their supply chains from China. As pet products in China move towards branding and leverage their supply chain advantages and product development, it is easy to achieve good results. Is the pet market too crowded? The development process of Bukaxing reminds entrepreneurs to take a look at the blue ocean of pet products beyond cats and dogs.
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