A clever way for dog owners to add treats to their delivery meal.

Who let the dogs out? Unleashing an entirely new sales channel

As anyone with a dog can tell you, when the delivery person shows up at your doorstep with fresh food, chaos can often ensue. Our canine friends like to make a big fuss at the stranger with the delicious-smelling paper bag and then beg us for scraps as they flash us their irresistible puppy dog eyes.

Interest in on-demand food delivery had already been growing steadily until it skyrocketed during the pandemic. According to McKinsey, “mature delivery markets worldwide grew twofold (U.S.) to as much as fourfold (Australia) in 2018 and 2019. This exponential growth continued in 2020 and early 2021 to the point where these markets are now 4-7x larger than they were in 2018.” (It’s worth mentioning that pet ownership surged during the pandemic, too.)

In 2019, the client initially came to NOBA to figure out if it made sense to offer on-demand fresh food deliveries for pets with a burner brand called Doglicious. The results took us in a totally different direction — which turned out to be a bone-a-fide business idea.

Things looked ruff at first

For this project, NOBA began with a Sonar phase to determine if there was a market fit for a potential subscription service that would deliver freshly made meals for dogs. We targeted ads to dog lovers to test whether value propositions (VPs) like food freshness, quick delivery and product offering (meals vs. treats) were most important to this audience. These ads led them to a landing page for Doglicious, with a call-to-action to fill out a survey through which we were able to better understand their needs, habits and location.

These early adopters showed us that while more people wanted dog meals than treats, the people who wanted dog treats were more likely to engage with us. Furthermore, while food freshness was attractive, the most common source of business was dry food. 

That said, we also saw that there wasn’t enough volume in the first place for a full-blown subscription dog food service, so we pivoted the idea (subscription boxes were down anyway) and integrated it into the wider food delivery industry.

Teaching an old dog new tricks

With a newly designed Doglicious already underway, we decided to do without another testing phase entirely and instead move on to the Alpha phase: roll out an actual business prototype. In 2021, Doglicious debuted in Barcelona, where the delivery market is undeniably making waves. But it was going to take more than a couple of tricks to get dog treats into people’s homes.

First, we purchased dog treats from a local manufacturer and gathered the rest of our supplies: brown paper bags sealed with Doglicious stickers with two portion sizes, 6 snacks and 12 snacks. Then, we went straight to restaurants — both “pet-friendly” restaurants as well as larger ones — to see if they would be interested in offering these treats as “add-ons” to their menus for free during our pilot. All we’d have to do is track them. A total of 13 restaurants (8 partners) signed on.

From there, we had to make sure these treats were added to their online take-out and delivery menus. That’s where our friends at Glovo came in. Before checking out, those who ordered from participating restaurants would receive a pop-up that said: “Would you like to add a snack for your dog?” In addition, Glovo’s snacks home screen featured “You and your dog” for a week, which led users to participating restaurants. Another ad campaign went out as well to let dog lovers know that they could now add dog treats to their meal when they ordered in from participating restaurants via Glovo.

More than just puppy love

As it turned out, integrating dog treats into the delivery market opened up an entirely new sales channel. The add-on feature increased visibility so much that the purchase rate of dog treats averaged 2% among participating restaurants over their total sales at Glovo, with the dog-friendly ones receiving as high as 6.5%. (For reference, drinks are included in 17% of Glovo orders.) Some partners even started offering the dog treats in their physical restaurants, and half of the partners continued beyond the pilot — two restaurants were ready to pay for dog treats to be added permanently to their menus!

Even when taking into account the supplies and running costs, we were able to see that Doglicious could be a profitable small business given the low price elasticity among dog lovers. In European cities beyond Barcelona, 8% of restaurants on average are “dog friendly,” meaning that even if 3% of orders were to include a dog treat, we could be talking about a seven-figure size market. Moreover, we saved time and resources by skipping out on building an entire platform for Doglicious and building synergistic partnerships instead.

In this dog-eat-dog world, quick business pivots — like what happened with Doglicious — are one of the most exciting parts of the testing process. And you don’t need to work like a dog to make them happen either. Just work together 🙂

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*inNOBAtors: Our most precious asset, a highly qualified pool of early-adopters; non-incentivised, ready to give their opinion and eager to try innovative products.

Get in touch!

Give us a little bit of information about your project and we will contact you soon with a tailored test plan for you!