#414: PetSmart Treats - Ranked One of America’s Best Loyalty Programs by Newsweek

Today’s episode is a treat for anyone who is either a pet lover or a pet parent, as well as retail loyalty professionals.

Our guest is Bradley Breuer, Vice President of Loyalty and Personalised Marketing at PetSmart in the United States.

This year, PetSmart’s “Treats” program has reached the incredible milestone of 60 million members!

Bradley shares some compelling insights on member penetration of sales, as well as some of the key principles of their success that has led the PetSmart Treats program to become one of America’s Best Loyalty Programs as ranked by Newsweek.

 Show Notes:

1) Bradley Breuer, Vice President of Loyalty and Personalised Marketing

2) PetSmart

3) PetSmart’s “Treats” program

4) America’s Best Loyalty Programs 2023 by Newsweek

Audio Transcript

Paula: Welcome to Let’s Talk Loyalty, an industry podcast for loyalty marketing professionals. I’m your host, Paula Thomas, and if you work in loyalty marketing, join me every week to learn the latest ideas from loyalty specialists around the world.

Just before we share today’s episode, I want to ask you to sign up to the Let’s Talk Loyalty email newsletter. Our email newsletter is by far the best way for us to keep you up to date with all of the latest, incredible loyalty stories we’re sharing each week. It’s also the easiest place for you to find our show notes with links to everything mentioned in all of the episodes.

You can sign up at letstalkloyalty.com.

Hello and welcome to today’s episode, which will be a treat for anyone listening who is either a pet lover or a pet parent, as well as all of the retail loyalty people listening today. My guest is Bradley Breuer, and he is the Vice President of Loyalty and Personalized Marketing at PetSmart in the United States.

And this year, their Treats program has reached the incredible milestone of 60 million members. Bradley has an amazing career pedigree himself, working with brands like Walgreens, Nike, and COACH before joining PetSmart. And he joins Let’s Talk Loyalty Today to share some compelling insights on member penetration of sales, as well as some of the key principles of success that has led the PetSmart Treats program to become one of America’s Best Loyalty Programs as measured by Newsweek. I hope you enjoy my conversation with Bradley Breuer from PetSmart.

So Bradley Breuer, welcome to Let’s Talk Loyalty. 

Bradley: Great to be here. 

Paula: Amazing, Bradley. I am thinking that working with pets, especially in loyalty, is two of my favorite things together. So I think you have one of the best jobs in the world. 

Bradley:  It really is wonderful to be here at PetSmart. And, you know, I walked into the office this morning and I was greeted by lots of dogs on my way in and, there’s nothing better to, to start your day with that sort of greeting.

Paula: Oh, for sure, Bradley. In fact, you know, you know, back in Ireland, actually not here in Dubai, but at one stage I was looking for an office in the city center in Dublin, and I asked one of my team to go out and find somewhere where we could have pets because I wanted to have one. And I couldn’t find an office that would let me have pets.

So clearly I was in the wrong job. And, it is a passion point. I now have reverted from, at that stage, a dog lover now more of a cat lover. But anyway, we’re all about the, you know, pets make us better people. I think I saw on your website, am I right? 

Bradley: You’ve got that. Yeah, I, when I joined about three months after we brought a Corgi into our family, so he will often join me here at the office and, you know, it’s, it’s an amazing thing to be able to take your lunch break and  see the dogs run at the dog park. We have a beautiful dog park and so, it’s a really wonderful environment to be in. 

Paula: Incredible. Great stuff. So listen, let’s get into loyalty. Of course. That’s what we’re here to discuss in terms of your incredible career, particularly the Treats program that you’re so proud of, of course for PetSmart. And as you know, we always start this conversation trying to get a sense, you know, from the loyalty professionals we speak to, what do you admire? So what would you say? Say, is your favorite loyalty program Bradley, other than your own? Of course. 

Bradley: So I love to travel and, I exclusively fly Delta Airlines and I love their program because they have really done an amazing job of integrating loyalty at every point of the experience. So whether I’m on the app booking travel, whether I’m checking in, whether I’m in the air, Whether I’m deplaning, you know, I think about it and I get thanked for my loyalty, no fewer than five times in any travel experience.

And to me, a company that can embrace that level of recognition, that level of loyalty, being in the DNA tells me that the company is truly customer centric. And so to me, I love every interaction when I have to make call, the call center.  I mean, who likes calling a call center?

But I actually enjoy those conversations when I talk to them about things. And I’ve had, I’ve had agents say things to me like I, I’ve said to agents, I said, I really love flying with Delta. And the agent will say, why? Tell me about that. And I have a real conversation. And so I like that. 

And I’ll just say one thing. I was recently flying and Delta put out a documentary called The Highest Climb, and it’s a one hour documentary that they’re showing only on their planes, and it’s about how they survived some really tough times of the pandemic. And the message in the documentary was there were two things that helped them survive the pandemic and come through.

The worst time they’d seen, and it was the loyalty of their employees. And the loyalty of their customers. And they interviewed customers and they talked to SkyMiles members. And it really made me realize that my aspiration right, is what Delta has done with their program, which is that it’s not SkyMiles, it’s not a loyalty program.

It is loyalty through every interaction and every part and every member of their company has real commitment to how loyalty shows up. So that’s my favorite program. 

I would say I have a, you know, a second and third that are very near and dear to my heart. And that’s Sephora Beauty Insider. And Nordstrom’s Nordy Club are both companies that I deeply admire and, you know, feel like a valued member because of how they treat me.

Paula: Amazing. Absolutely. Well, at least you got the balance there, Bradley. So one in airline, two in retail. So I think that’s totally cool, and kudos to Delta. I mean, clearly not being in the US market, I don’t have, you know, as much opportunity to really kind of respect and learn and understand the nuance in terms of how Delta is obviously creating that sense of true emotional loyalty, if I’m hearing you correctly, as distinct from any other of the big, you know, American carriers. 

So well done to Delta, want to celebrate and given that you have a very long distinguished career in the industry, I think it’s also pretty cool for them. So maybe gives a bit of background. Bradley, there’s a few incredible brands on your LinkedIn profile, so take us through the background and how you got into this. 

Bradley: Sure. So I started, in loyalty, when I was at Walgreens and I had joined the company, in market planning and research. And at that time, the company was opening a new store every 17 hours. That’s over 500 stores a year. And it was a big growth engine for the company. But at a certain point, you know there is a Walgreens on pretty much every corner. And so the company said, hey, We’re gonna change our capital allocation policy, we’re gonna invest in customer. And I raised my hand and said, I’m going with that. I want to be at the heart of the company. 

And we embarked on a project to really, not just build a loyalty program, but really be customer centric in how we interact with customers, how we marketed to customers. And so we did all the things that you do when you build a loyalty program.

We did a pilot, we talked to our vendor partners. We worked with our operations partners to really think about how we would bring what at the time was a program called Balance Rewards. They’ve since rebranded. But again, a huge program to, really, value customer loyalty at Walgreens. And so that was my first taste of it. 

And, you know, really, it was early in my career. So I learned a lot of things about, you know, the importance of engaging the store associate in the experience, and that really no loyalty program is successful if the people that are on the front lines with the customer don’t believe in it and aren’t excited about it. And so I took a lot of learnings from that. 

The other thing I’d say before I talk about my next experience is that I also worked on a lot of programs at Walgreens around pharmacy and worked with our pharmacy team. And I really never thought of how marketing could be used to drive better health outcomes for patients.

And so we use the vehicles of loyalty and marketing to make sure people took their medications. And that was really meaningful experience for me too, because I never really thought of that being something marketing could influence, but really it’s important that you take your medications as prescribed. It’s good for the patient, it’s good for the health outcome, and it’s good for business too. And when you have this formula of good for the customer, that equals good for business. It was a really, really neat learning and I worked with such a talented team of people from all sorts of disciplines there. And it was really a fun time in my career to really launch my career in marketing and loyalty and sort of data-driven outcomes. 

And so I went to Nike. You know, Nike is a, is the dream of all marketers to work for, went out to Beaverton, Oregon. And at that time, Nike was really focused on, you know, how to build that direct to consumer relationship. You know, that’s kind of very common now, but at that time they were really trying to say, you know, look, we value our wholesale partners. We’ve built a very successful business on wholesale partners, but building out that direct to consumer relationship is very valuable.

And so I worked on a team that built nike.com and really thought about how we would, you know, use that first party data that relationship with the customer to personalize more of our communications, to be better marketers because we own the relationship with the customer.  

And by the end of my tenure there, we worked with the team that launched sort of, Nike Plus membership. And that was a program that again, Nike really committed to and said, hey, our members are our most important stakeholder. Our customers are most important stakeholder. We’re gonna give them a program that shows them how much we value them. And, you know, my biggest takeaway when I worked at Nike was that, you know, it’s about being a retailer, but it’s also being about a brand.

And Nike really is a brand. I remember I went into a meeting with our running team and they were really trying to get Nike Plus Running app users more engaged. And, you know, I was like, I wanted to know what are your priorities and what’s important to you? And I thought for sure, they’d say, well, we wanna sell more running shoes and we wanna sell more apparel.

And they looked right at me and they said, we want people to run more. And run better. And it was a big aha moment for me because it really helped me learn and reorient that you have to phrase your objectives and frame your objectives in the customer mindsets and the customer need. No customer is out there saying, I need a company to give me running shoes.

But boy, a customer that can find a company to inspire them to run faster, run better,  run safer, all these different things. And if you can focus on that in your programs, and, building loyalty around that. The outcomes, the business, the sales of the shoes are gonna come. People run more, they need more running shoes. Right. 

So that was a really, really, fun time for me to really learn what it means to mix together, you know, data-driven marketing and loyalty programs and all the math that’s often a part of these programs. With the brand and the heart and the customer and how important that, marrying these two things is and delivering programs that really matter.

So that was a fun, fun brand to work for. And then I moved to New York and worked for COACH and, you know, coach was at this time kind of coming off of some bumpier years where they were very successful, very popular, but sort of the ubiquity of the brand had sort of given it some fatigue in the market.

So they were really relaunching the brand to drive that fashion credibility, to really make sure they were connecting with the customer. And it was a really fun time to get more involved in fashion and how that came to life. 

Towards the end of my time we launched COACH Insider. And that was an interesting program for me because we thought really hard about what was a loyalty program and how could you provide benefit to the customer without having sort of a traditional currency or a points-based offering. But, that we had all sorts of other things that we could give our customer as part of that.

And since I’ve left, I’ve watched that program and I just, I think it’s been so incredible how they’ve built a sense of community. How they have really thought about this term COACH Insider and what that means in terms of access. And I really think that that program has blossomed.

I’ll end by saying there were two other things that I did when I was at COACH. And COACH was owned by the parent company, Tapestry. And a lot of these initiatives are driven by the parent company, and we worked really hard with them, but one was around just sort of data-driven marketing.

And really focusing on using data to inform all facets of marketing and really bringing together everything we were doing from loyalty and media and CRM. To be powered by data and to really be reading customer signals to do that. And that resulted in better engagement of customers and it involved better sales of customers.

And then the last thing that was really meaningful was I worked on a culture pilot and the pilot was about how we took customer centricity to the next level. And how we made sure that all associates felt very empowered to put customer hat on at. All decisions. 

And you know, I think a lot of retail companies are good at being customer centric. But at Tapestry and COACH, we wanted to be the best and it was really fun thinking about what were the things that we were gonna change in our everyday behaviors and cultures and how we started meetings, to make sure the customer was really sitting at the table. And that was a really valuable piece of it.

And, then I came down here just over a year ago, to PetSmarts and you, you mentioned in the opening of, what’s better than, you know, loving loyalty and doing it in such an industry where, you know, we have 50,000 associates and our 50,000 associates, they show up for work, but they show up for work because they care about pets. And they have a passion for pets.

And they really do believe, you know, in our mission that, you know, that, you know, pets make us better people. 

Paula: For sure. 

Bradley: And that’s just, you know, what a wonderful place to come to work every day. And I’ll say on a professional note, you know, we have an executive team here who really is aligned and understands the power of what loyalty can bring to a business.

And, when I joined, it was a big appeal to me that every single executive that I interviewed with and talked to could tell the loyalty story and why they felt it was so important to business. That’s a great environment for a loyalty professional to be working in. 

Paula: Oh, totally sounded you, it sounds like you’ve landed in the perfect place. Bradley, just before we get into PetSmart, you used an unusual term there, just in the previous role about how we started our meetings, and that’s, I’d love to understand what you mean by that in COACH, was there a protocol? 

I think what you were alluding to was making sure your customer was essentially in the room, at least front of mind. So, how was that, you know, experienced? How did that happen? 

Bradley: So in some of our pilot learnings, we did a couple things, but the first thing was, is to start off with sort of a customer fact. And, you know, we used the term fact very broadly. It could have been, you know, just a data point that we thought was really interesting in our business.

But it also could have been a customer verbatim or a customer story to really kind of kick off, and we tried to tie it to the theme of what we were there to talk about. But we really encouraged and empowered people to think about that. I would say the other thing that in doing that was, you know, I spent a lot of time in stores and talking to customers and talking to associates.

And we focused a lot more on just improving our listening skills, you know, in a big company. A lot of people are rewarded for talking, right? And, I think that we really tried to orient ourselves, especially in meetings to value listening and to value a more diverse set of inputs.

And you think what you find a lot of times is that usually the people who are closest to the customer are the ones who have the most valuable insights. And so that was another thing that we did in our meetings was really tried to make room for people who had a much director insight to the customer, direct line of insight to the customer.

And that might’ve been that they were partnering with the call centers or they were reading feedback, or they were looking at engagement and email marketing. But giving more of that voice, to those associates.

 So, you know, working on culture is something I had never been sort of, I tasked with as an official role. And it was a lot of fun. I learned a lot from it. I grew a lot as a leader. As thinking about how you become sort of a culture maker and how you bring people along on that journey. 

Paula: Wow. Thank you for that, Bradley. Yes. I always like to explore if there’s something that I haven’t heard before and sounds like some thought has gone into it. It’s always something I think the audience loves, so thank you for your generosity with that. 

So, let’s get into PetSmart Bradley. You know, much of our audience are not in the United States. So I’d love to just get a sense of the scale. You guys are doing extraordinary work, both in terms of your store footprint and of course the loyalty program itself.

So would you just introduce us to the business? We’re obviously very clear in terms of the sector, so that’s super easy. But yeah, give us a sense of the business piece itself. 

Bradley: We have over 1600 stores in the US and Canada and Puerto Rico. And we have 50,000, you know, passionate associates across these stores who, everyday sort of bring things to life for our customers.

We also have a very, very, healthy and growing online business. And like many, many companies through the pandemic really focused on how we can serve the customer across many touchpoints. So we can ship to home, we can do same day delivery through our partnership with DoorDash. Buy online, pick up in store. And then of course our stores, you know, are within a, you know, the majority of US families with live within five miles of a PetSmart store here. So really, a very, a lot of access. We are the leading sort of pet specialty retailer in North America.

And, you know, we’ve had growth of over 40% over the last four years. And, you know, the exciting thing about growth, is that growth is what funds and unlocks investment in business. And so we’re investing in many areas of our business. but you know, loyalty is one of them.

 At a time when you see many companies pulling back on loyalty. You know, we’re invested in giving more actually, and we’re investing in our treats program. We’re coming up on five years. here, in August. So we launched in 2018.  And we’ve grown to over 60 million members as part of our program. It’s a free program, so you know, anyone can sign up. And you get great benefits from the day you start. So, you earn points on every dollar you spend in our stores, including donations to our charities, which I’ll talk about probably later. But, you earn points on everything and then you can redeem those points on, on everything.

And we have a pretty wide offering, right? We have, really everything you could need in, in the pet specialty space, whether you’re there for toys or treats or supplements. I mean, we sell it all. And then we have in many of our locations, pets, hotels, where you can have your pets stay overnight. We take care of dogs in our day camp during the day.  We have, you know, some of the best trained trainers, so if you wanna to bring your dog in for training or, and then we have a salon, we have a salon that, you know, we groomed over 13 million pets annually. And so there’s a lot to be had in the store.

I mean, I actually did an internship in the store where I spent a week working in a store.  And I gained a new appreciation for how, you know, a retail environment with live pets is a really special environment that is really cool. I mean, you know, when my sister takes my nephews and nieces into a store, I always get a photograph of them, staring at the pets and engaging in the fish wall and all of what is the magic of our stores. So that’s a little bit about who we are.

Paula: Amazing. Amazing. And I saw you, speaking actually just on a YouTube video there from The Loyalty CXM Conference recently in Zurich. Really fascinating and of course, just looking at some of the other work that you’ve done. The first thing, well, two things actually immediately, caught my attention, Bradley.

One was that you said that you went into PetSmart, with this idea that we need to lead with loyalty. And as a mindset, this was something, even though clearly the C-suite was already fully supportive, it sounds like that was something that needed attention. And it sounds like it’s been pretty transformational in getting you to this incredible 60 million member base.

The other incredible statistic you quoted for us was that the actual, you know, member penetration rate, I guess of sales must be the highest in the world that I’ve heard of. So maybe you’d share that with our audience. 

Bradley:  Yeah you know, it really is. You know, nine out of 10 customers who walk through and transact with us, they attach their purchase to our loyalty program, and that is, you know, a testament to our associates showing up every day. And, being able to execute that. And you sit in a store, and, boy, if they don’t wanna attach it, they make sure that they are a member. And at the end of the day, I think a lot of this comes from the fact that if you’re a member of our program, you get value. 

And our store associates wants to deliver value to pet parents through every interaction that they have. And so, yeah, we, when I say lead with loyalty, you know, our goal really is, I talked earlier about Delta and how I admire them. Our goal really is for loyalty to be everyone’s job in the company.

Whether you’re a merchant, you’re a merchant picking out the products we’re going to sell. Whether you’re sitting in a call center, whether you’re a store associate, whether you’re a member of the marketing team. And so, you know, look, we started with marketing and, you know, I have colleagues here who really embrace the idea of, you know, taking treats from you know, showing up in some of our marketing to being the, the key focus of everything and leading with that message. 

I never would’ve dreamed it, but last year we did a TV commercial that featured our loyalty program. It actually showed the app, it showed someone accumulating points.  And then using those points to gift people presence through the holiday season.

And I sat back at that moment and I was like, wow, this is really incredible. I haven’t seen very many other retailers who talk about their loyalty program and big commercial TV, which is meant to drive store traffic engagement, but also acquisition of new customers. And we came out saying like, this is important enough that we think it’s a reason to shop with us, that we’re going to pull people in with that messaging. 

So look, we’re on a journey. I think that, if you look at our marketing now as compared to a year ago, it really does lead with loyalty as the message. We’ve tried to put more of our promotional offering and loyalty points, so that we give people value in something that creates that flywheel, right?

You know, during our Members Month, which was in April, we did a weekend where we gave people 10 times the points. That’s 20% back in value. So if you came in and spent a hundred dollars in our store, you got $20 back in loyalty currency to come and spend on a future trip. 

And we know that when customers are engaged in that, it’s more value for them. They spend more. And, oh, by the way, to redeem the value, they come back for the second trip. And so, you know, we really excited about how we’re using more offers using the things that we have to, to engage the customers. And, and we’ll continue to, you know, I’m always on a road show with everyone in the company and inspiring them, so how loyalty is a part of their everyday work, and the response has been really phenomenal.

But I’ll end by saying, my biggest priority, it always goes back to the store associates. It’s the 50,000 people who every day get up, have those conversations with the customers. And I want them to feel excited about the program that they can explain very easily to why it’s valuable for pet parents.

Sometimes we do even just special loyalty offers only for associates. Teach them about the program. To get them engaged in the program and to tell them that like, they really matter to us. And I record a lot of videos that go to our field and so you know, that’s my, one of my biggest priorities in how we can, you know, really lead with loyalty and really make it a part of every touch point.

Paula: Incredible. I was going to ask actually exactly Bradley, you’ve kind of preempted my next question, but 50,000 people to engage, inspire, and really keep, really up to date, particularly when you’re launching something as dramatic as rich and as powerful as that whole campaign in April. 

So, sending videos out, is that something you send out by email or is it within the app? I’m super curious as to how you manage to get that, I suppose, ongoing connection with your team. 

Bradley: Yeah, so we have something that is sort of a, we’ll call it sort of a monthly video that all associates engage in, in the store, and they’ll see it in the store computer. So the store manager will get that and be able to really get all the associates to watch it. It’s very fast. There’s a lot of information we’re trying to give and you gotta give it in really quick sound bites. 

And so, as we think about leading up to Members Month, what we did was, the month before, I actually announced this associate only offer and I said, hey, we want you to get ready for Members Month, and a big part of Members Month for us was that customers had to learn how to activate offers. Right? So, you know, today you get a baseline benefit. It’s a, it’s a, you know, earn eight points for every dollar you spend. But the real unlock in our program is when you see offers that are above and beyond that. And to take advantage of them, you have to see the offer, understand the offer. And then activate the offer. 

So in March we did a whole, I did recorded a video for the stores around activating the offers. Said you guys, you have two offers that are sitting in your account. I want everyone to go in and offer and activate those offers. Because this is something you’re gonna help our pet parents do once we get to Members Month in April. So we did that in March. That went on to all of our associates and then in April, and then as we led into April. We recorded another video talking about all of the things. 

Look, we ran 25 plus offers during Members Month. It was a true celebration of our customers, our pet parents. And, you know, we, we talked to the stores about that and we gave them a lot of insight on. How they could help pet parents activate these offers and walk away, with a lot of value. So we really, I mean, I think you can probably tell, I love doing a video and I love getting totally people excited about the program.

And, you know, so, you know, look, it’s great to then go and visit stores and have people recall and say, hey, I saw your video. And, you know, we get pictures back of associates standing with customers and oftentimes taking their phone and helping them navigate the app or navigate their email to find the offers and activate.

And then we have stores that have gone and they’ve taken their chalkboards and they explain the offer. And, to me that means that there’s real understanding buy-in and excitement of how stores can play such a role in exciting members about getting value from the program.

Paula: Totally, totally. And I do think the US Bradley, you know, certainly there is, you know, much more awareness in your market than perhaps, for example, here where I live, where here I often think that the programs launch and the associates are trained, of course, at that time. But I don’t think we get the ongoing training and understanding of the role of those associates at the point of sale on a long-term basis.

So sounds like you have that totally nailed as a principle in terms of driving the success of the program and getting that 90% penetration of sales. Truly, truly astonishing, Bradley. So, very exciting. 

What other principles would you say our audience would be curious about perhaps that PetSmart is doing that Treats has managed to either achieve, or create or innovate or just optimize. Cause I do think principles are the kind of thing that this show is really, I suppose, proud to share and learn from somebody with your experience. 

Bradley:  You know, I’ll start by, I wanna go, I wanna just re reiterate the idea of offer activation for folks. You know, we grew our offer activation 150% year over year. And the reason I talk a lot about offer activation is that offer activation is a way of giving customers value, but attaching it to incremental behaviors, right? So all of our offers are trying to drive a second trip or attaching something new to the basket.

It’s trying to establish routines and patterns for our pet parents. And so I, we’re very focused on this because it is what drives incrementality in our program. Is this idea of really focusing on education of offers, targeting of offers. So that when you open your app and you see the offers, they are relevant to you.

And they are things like, oh, I never considered PetSmart for grooming, or, I may be buying my food, but actually I can use my Treats points over here to, get a collar or a toy or a treat. And so offer activation has been a very singular focus of our team  When it comes to driving incrementality and new behaviors with our customer.

And again, I said it earlier, it’s all about giving more value. And so what’s good for the customer is good for the business. And we’ve made a lot of progress internally in helping people understand how to deliver business growth through loyalty. Nice and that being a cornerstone of that.

A couple other things that I would say are themes that are important to us is, and you’ll probably hear this from many people in the business, but testing and learning. Look, we also made sure that not everything is a success. And you have to be willing to put new things out there and learn from them.

Read customer signals in response. And embrace the things that work really well.  And learn from the things that maybe haven’t. And so that’s a bit of the culture we’re also trying to drive is this idea of experimentation, and willingness to fail fast and, and, and move on. So, you know, we make calculated risks. But it is important in this world that’s just changing so fast to be constantly trying new things with your customers. 

We’ve also spent a lot of time about thinking about a program that is more than just discounts. And I think this speaks to this idea of loyalty being more than, I think you called it, emotional loyalty, more than just, you know, 2% cash back. And so early access to new collections and products, letting people donate their points to our PetSmart charities, surprise and delight, delight moments. Greater personalization of communications where we’re giving people lifecycle journeys. We know when you’ve just adopted or a pet or brought a fish tank into your family, making sure that we’re putting you on really compelling journeys.

That help you build the right routines that help you build, you know, your pet’s, a happy pet in a habitat that’s well cared for. And so we focused on a lot of that. And then I said it earlier, I’ll just keep repeating it. Store associates being just a critical, unlock for what we’re trying to do. You can underestimate how hard that is. But it’s one of those things that appears in a quadrant of very hard. But very high payoff. And so, you know, when I talk about nine out of 10, you know, we’re five years into that journey.

We weren’t, we, it took us time to get there. And it was through repetition and singularity of that message to our stores. And so now they’re doing that really great, and we’ve pivoted and we said, all right, your next challenge is offer activation. Trust me, we’re not at 90% of members activating offers.

You know? And so we have a lot of runway ahead there and a lot of opportunity in the business to get more, more of our customers doing that, getting value, and driving our business. 

Paula: Incredible, my goodness. So many principles there. You know, it really feels like there’s a lot of very clear thinking, as you said, get all the basics right. I love that idea, that offer activation. Is directly responsible for incrementality because I really think that that is an important distinction that I haven’t really thought through, in particular detail before, clearly the way you have.

And I love the idea of the onboarding. So that whole focus on really understanding exactly what’s the pet in this, you know, parent’s, family, what exactly are they, you know, going to figure out ahead.

Because for example, for me becoming a cat parent here, that’s a very recent development. As I said, as a child growing up, we were all about the dogs. And only when I changed country, I found myself suddenly realizing, actually it was quite practical, Bradley, I was living on the 64th floor of a building. And I figured that, you know, taking a dog down to walk would just, I’d spend my whole day on the lift going up and down. So, you know.

Bradley: Yeah, I can empathize. I lived in Brooklyn and an eight on the 18th floor, and we never had a dog then, but moving here to Phoenix and, being in a much lower rise building, it’s a lot easier. But there are, you know, there are real practical reasons.

But the beauty of that, as you’ve said in your own experiences that, you know, we have so many different types of pets that  can have in your home.  And not all of them have to go down 64 floors. 

Paula: The fish definitely not. No. Super nice. Yes.  But no, genuinely I can see the value of that piece, Bradley, because I often think education is a principle that perhaps we underestimate. And it sounds like you guys have that nail because, you know, we adopted our cats from, you know, a private individual who was literally rescuing as many as she could.

So we were literally picking up our first, you know, little kitten and kind of going, can you please tell us what we now need to go buy? So we felt very out of our depth. And the poor little kitten for the first couple of days was, you know, a little unsettled, I’m gonna say, until we figured out what he needed.

But yeah, that kind of onboarding piece, particularly for new pet parents is something that for sure drives loyalty. I’m sure you have incredible measurement around how effective that must be. 

Bradley: We have a, in partnership with our PetSmart charities. We have a very active adoption program. And finding pets homes. And so again, that’s good for animal welfare. And our charities partners are very focused on animal welfare. Actually, PetSmart Charities is the largest donor to animal welfare in North America. You know, we’ve given over 500 million dollars to organizations that help pets. And the people who love them. 

Paula: Beautiful. 

Bradley: So it’s a really, really wonderful thing that we’ve believed in from our very beginning. But then it also is, you know, when you adopt your pet from PetSmart, the number of people I meet  who talk to me about how they became a Treats member. They often became a Treats member because they came to our star. There was an adoption event. They adopted from a local nonprofit. And then they became customers of PetSmart and the loyalty program. 

So, a really powerful story, for us, and, and I’ll just mention, you know, we, one of the things that we really are, are focusing on as we think to the future is, how we bring that PetSmart charity story into the loyalty program, you know?

Especially here, people are really beginning to care about doing business with people who do good. And our PetSmart Charities program is really, an incredible enterprise and we wanna bring more of that into our program. Look, you earn points, not just on the dog food you buy or the cat litter. You earn points on the donations you make. The PetSmart charities. And so we wanna reinforce that message. You know, along the way as, as part of our program. 

Paula: Incredible. Yes. And you’ve, again, preempted Bradley, I was literally thinking with so much work done, and you’ve admitted there was, you know, a lot of runway to get to where you are, and there’s still plenty ahead.

So what can you share with us about what’s coming up, you know, given you’ve passed this 60 million mark, what’s coming next for Treats and PetSmart? 

Bradley: So, so I mentioned offer activation, which I think still, you know, remains very important to us. And I often, when I talk about it with our stores, I often remind people that we need people to see offers, discover offers, and activate them before they make their purchasing decisions.

Because it will very much lead to that incrementality that I, I talked to. And so we see that in every instance when that happens, the pet parent gets more value and, we see, we see lift. But, but more generally, I’ll say a couple of themes of things that we’re thinking about.

One is that we want our program to continue to be easier to understand. People are very busy. And we wanna make sure that we’re always making it easy to understand what value they’re getting from the program. So I’ll give you an example.  

You know, you accumulate points and, oftentimes brands, you know, are really good at telling you how many points you have. But we’ve really said in all of our communications, when we tell you how many points we have. Please always relate it to what that, what that means in terms of value. So if you have 2000 points, what is that worth for a redemption in the store? Make it easy and don’t make people do math.

And so we’re really scrubbing our program. All of our communications to really think about how we make it super easy to understand. And super easy for our pet parents and our associates. And so that’s a big part of what we’re doing.  

You know, look, our program is free, it’s free to join. And you get, you know, immediate benefit when you join. In fact, If you’re a member of our program and you shop with us monthly, you’re gonna get $90 of value each year from the program, from a free program. And you know, at the end of the day though, we’re also focused on the people who really give us their loyalty.

And so we’re really thinking hard about how we differentiate our treatments and how we give value to our best customers. And our best customers are the most engaged in our program. And people expect. As they are more loyal, they expect more from the brand. So we’re really thinking hard about how we deliver on that and how we reward our very best members over time.

And then I’d end by saying that we really want to continue to infuse in our program the things that make us unique. So, I talked a little bit earlier about services. And really helping all of our customers discover the range of services that we have. As an aside, you earn points when you, when you buy services, when you get that groom or you stay at the hotel. So we, we really want to, make sure that people understand that and that we create great introductions to those services. And help people build great routines of whether it’s grooming or training, that they’re, they’re building those routines. So that’s really important to us. 

And then our proprietary brands— we have 10 brands that are over a hundred million dollars in sales each year. And these are really, really powerful tools for us because it’s a great quality product. I just sat with our team yesterday, and, you know, they’re so focused on giving people a quality product at a great value. And look, a proprietary brand is the ultimate form of loyalty. It can only be bought at PetSmart.  And so we get you on one of our high quality foods. And we, that’s working for your pet and they love that. Or our litter, or, any number of our proprietary brands.

It’s a win for the customer and it’s a win for our business. So we wanna bring proprietary brands, much more to the front of our program, as we explore it. And then the last I said earlier is, again, people wanna do business with companies that do good. And it is fully in our DNA since the very beginning, our PetSmart charities and all that we do for our community.

You know, all that we do, for, you know, over 4,000 animal welfare organizations across the country. We wanna make sure our members see that as part of who we are and what we stand for every, every single day. 

Paula: Well said Bradley, you are a true ambassador for the brand and for animal welfare in general. Dare I say at a higher level. It’s very inspiring to hear, I suppose just the breadth of what you’re doing. You know, tying all the dots together and using loyalty as a lever that absolutely drives behaviors, which as you’ve said, they have to benefit everybody. And I think that mindset about lead with loyalty is something I’ll be taking away and reflecting on now in the months and years to come because it’s wonderful advice.

So I think that’s it from my side, Bradley, is there anything I’ve missed that you think our audience should also hear before we wrap up? 

Bradley: You know, I will, what I’ll say is, I’ll sort of end where we began, and that’s really that we believe that loving pets makes us better people. And you know, look, we’re 50,000 strong and we really will do anything for pets.

We know they’ll do anything for us. And so it’s a really, really beautiful category, but I, I hope that some of the things that we’ve talked about today are useful for teams that are thinking about loyalty. And how they really do, think more. And I always encourage people to not think about launching a loyalty program. It’s about focusing on how loyalty shows up across your enterprise.  And that’s where you see the real impact in your business, but also in how your customers perceive you. 

So, it was really fun talking to you today. I enjoyed our conversation and, I say hi to your pets on behalf of, PetSmarts and to all those listening. Also, we always like to say we end everything with, you know, tell our, give our, give your pets our best. 

Paula: Perfect, Bradley. Certainly unique way to sign off. So, Bradley Breuer, Vice President of Loyalty and Personalized Marketing. Thank you so much from Let’s Talk Loyalty. 

Bradley: Thank you.

Paula: This show is sponsored by the Wise Marketer, the world’s most popular source of loyalty, marketing, news, insights, and research. The Wise Marketer also offers loyalty, marketing training through its Loyalty Academy, which is already certified over 500 executives in 38 countries as certified loyalty marketing professionals.

For more information, check out thewisemarketer.com and loyaltyacademy.org.

Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Let’s Talk Loyalty. If you’d like us to send you the latest shows each week, simply sign up for the Let’s Talk Loyalty newsletter on letstalkloyalty.com, and we’ll send our best episodes straight to your inbox. And don’t forget that you can follow Let’s Talk Loyalty on any of your favorite podcast platforms, and of course, we’d love for you to share your feedback and reviews. Thanks again for supporting the show.