Petco Teams Up With Online Retailer Backcountry To Target Camping Canines


Petco today announced another retail partnership, this one designed to appeal to dog owners who are outdoor enthusiasts.

The pet retailer has joined with Backcountry, which sells camping, hiking, and other outdoor equipment online, to create a collection of outdoor gear for dogs who join their owners on outdoor adventures.

The collection, Backcountry x Petco, will be sold in Petco stores as well as on the and e-commerce sites.

The partnership is the latest move by Petco to differentiate itself in the highly competitive pet space, and to find new ways to connect with pet owners who aren’t Petco customers.

In January it announced a pilot program to put mini-Petco stores inside Lowe’s hardware stores, with 15 of the stores scheduled to open by the end of March. The mini-Petcos sell a curated selection of products and also give Lowe’s shoppers access to Petco services like vaccinations, grooming, and microchipping.

Petco also is showing it wants to be all things to all pet owners. Last fall it opened a store in New York’s Soho neighborhood to showcase its upscale private label line, Reddy, and it recently told investors it is planning a new concept store geared to rural customers, with a farm and pet motif.

The Backcountry collaboration aims to appeal to the new population of pet owners who are outdoor enthsuiasts, Aaron Weiss, senior vice president of owned brands at Petco, said. “There’s a whole new generation of pet parents eager to explore the outdoors – and bring their pets along for the ride,” he said. The products are designed to be durable and suitable for activities like camping and hiking, he said.

Backcountry’s CEO Melanie Cox called the collaboration a “natural fit” saying 84% of Backcountry’s customers have dogs.

“We’re proud to offer premium products built to connect family members to the outdoors, whether they have two legs or four,” Cox said.

The 54-item collection includes canine sleeping bags and travel mats, foldable crates, flotation devices, harnesses, leashes, and canine apparel items like jackets and bandanas.

Petco has a number of advantages in the heated race to become the leader of the pet retail pack. Pet spending spiked with the huge surge in pet adoptions during the pandemic, and that spending is expected to have a long run, with each new pet adoptee likely to be a member of the owner’s household for a decade or more.

But Petco, PetSmart, Chewy and a host of startups all are fighting for the love of those new “pet parents.”

Petco has physical stores – something Chewy wishes it had – and a network of in-store and store-adjacent vet clinics and veterinary hospitals that support its claim to be “the health and wellness company” for pets. It also is staking out a claim to be the upscale, more premium retailer, a way to differentiate itself from efforts by Amazon
and Walmart
to grow their share of pet-related spending.

Analysts have wondered how much partnerships like the Lowe’s shops will add to Petco’s bottom line. A deal like the Backcountry collaboration isn’t as much about the bottom lime as it is about branding Petco as the better pet retail choice for a broader group of pet parents.


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