Barking Blondes: Doggy ice cream, pawfiteroles and pooch gadgets
“Absolutely ridiculous,” said Duncan Bannatyne on this week’s Dragons’ Den, when entrepreneur, Marie Sawle pitched her Doggy ice cream and ice treat products. Retailing at around £2.99 a tub (more than many human brands) she was looking for an investment of £60,000.
Whilst the male dragons sat with incredulous looks on their faces, Hilary Devey and Deborah Meaden immediately spotted the potential and both offered to invest the full amount.
Meaden is the proud owner of two Hungarian Vizlas, which may have helped her to understand the appeal of healthy, iced doggy treats. She agreed to invest for a return of 40% of the business and won the deal.
Our dogs Molly and Matilda were fortunate enough to enjoy the product, earlier in the year, when it was leaping off the stall at Crufts. It is a healthy option treat with raw ingredients such as carrot, strawberry and bananas. In fact, we shared a tub with them, with love for your dog having no bounds. Plus, it was a hot day.
Every week, on our radio show, we have an item, unimaginatively called “Entrepreneur of the week”. Most of them will be the creators of a new brand of dog treat. Nearly all of them are surviving and occasionally flourishing as this niche market expands, in what for most, are difficult times.
Visit Harrods pet department any day of the week and there are queues for doggy cupcakes and delicacies, such as fresh “pawfiteroles”. And in Miami, okay it’s got the climate, but doggy ice cream is selling as much as human brands. Dogs have never been bigger business! The ‘pet’ industry is one of the fastest growing sectors, and during the recession, big national retailers have seen a steady growth of seven per cent year on year, making the market in the UK estimated to be valued at over four billion pounds.
Whilst we are spending less on ourselves, we are spending more on our dogs. Could this steady growth be attributed to plain old retail therapy and our guilt about spending money on ourselves being lessened if we splash out on the dog?
On average a dog owner will buy their dog a weekly gift costing £10.00 or more! With 27% of all UK households owning at least one dog, it’s easy to work out the maths and see why the market is growing and growing. On Monday, we took part in a new series for Channel 4, hosted by Stephen Fry called Gadget Man.
It investigates this canine boom, by dedicating an entire episode to doggy gadgets. The range of products that are now available for dogs include light up (LED) collars, to GPS (Sat Nav) collars, bluetooth-operated temperature gauges, even APPs for dogs and their owners. All of this shows that ‘innovation’ for dogs is almost as big as it is for children.
Finally, would you trust an MP who is a dog owner more than one who’s not? Well to find out just how many fido-loving politicians there are in Westminster, pop along on Thursday to Victoria Tower Gardens for The Westminster Dog Of The year. Twenty-four MPs will be battling it out and showing off their loyal four-legged friends by demonstrating the part they play on the political trail.
If you go onto The Kennel Club website you can see if your MP is involved and offer up your vote as well as discovering their chosen names for their pets. One constituency is represented by a dog named Boris and another called Gordon. Interesting eh? Woof! Woof!
‘Barking at the Moon’ is on every Thursday from 10pm to midnight on BBC London 94.9FMTagged in: crufts, deborah meaden, dogs, Dragons’ Den, Duncan Bannatyne, gadget man, hilary devey, ice cream, stephen fry
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