The pandemic caused by Covid-19 has had a serious impact on the mental health of people globally. The restricted lifestyle caused by a series of complete and partial lockdowns throughout 2020 and even 2021 has seen increased mental health-related issues leading to depression and anxiety across segments of society in India and in such times, pets have emerged as widely accepted pacifiers that offer emotional support and sense of purpose. In fact, there has been a spike in the adoption of pets across India and this has ultimately resulted in growth in demand for pet grooming and related services.
Pet ownership is also increasing owing to rising disposable income largely in the middle class, more nuclear families, rapid urbanization, and the changing attitude of people towards humanizing pets as part of the family.
According to a report, puppy and kitten adoption rates during the lockdown have gone up more than 50 percent and 40 percent respectively, and this is driving revenue growth in the pet care and pet supplies segment and these are now emerging as a potential industry.
According to Global Market Insight and Euromonitor, though the Indian pet care industry is estimated at less than 0.8 percent of global industry valued at US$ 190.1 billion in 2018, it is among the fastest-growing markets, with a projected CAGR of about 17 percent in comparison with a global rate of 5.2 percent.
Furthermore, a Petex India 2021 report said that the pet care market in India is expected to grow at 14 percent annually to become a US$ 490 million (Rs 33,000 million) market by 2022.
The market potential has encouraged players in the segment to invest in innovative offerings and services across channels, and Flying Fur is one such innovative pet care brand, founded by Jessica Madan and Lakshya Sawhney in 2016, that offers grooming services to pets, on the move.
Jessica Madan, CEO & Co-Founder, Flying Fur, says, “The Indian pet care industry has rapidly grown over the past years, especially during the Covid times. The number of pet parents has significantly increased along with the humanization of pets, which has led to an increased sense of health and wellbeing of the pets. The pet market is growing at a 14 percent annual rate and is expected to touch US$ 490 million by 2022 in India. Flying Fur is a mobile pet grooming service, for all the pet parents, who want the best for their pets and also the convenience. Flying Fur grooming vans come to your doorstep and the grooming is done by our trained groomers inside the van. Our vans are equipped with state-of-the-art equipment including a spa tub, grooming table, hot and cold water, and air-conditioning. The idea is to give utmost comfort and quality to all our fur babies and their parents.”
Pamper on the Move
Flying Fur offers a complete range of services – from bath and dry, full-body haircut, nail clipping, teeth cleaning, ear cleaning, sanitary clipping, paw massage, mouth spray, spritz of perfume, etc.
“Our mobile salon is equipped with hot and cold running water for a comfortable bathing experience, heat and air for easy drying, a full-sized tub, and an adjustable grooming table. We provide personal, uninterrupted attention for you and your pet in a quiet, stress-free setting. Our mobile salon offers a safe, sanitary and healthy environment where pets are never put in crates or cages. A mobile salon is perfect for senior pets, pets that experience car sickness, or suffer separation anxiety. All our mobile vans are fully cleaned and sanitized after each service to ensure complete safety and proper hygiene. Our average ticket size is somewhere around Rs 1,600,” maintains Jessica Madan.
Flying Fur prides itself in its in-house tech team that enables the brand to work efficiently and with the best technological integration in the operations and functioning of the brand and back-end services. The mobile grooming service provider obtains its range of products from international brands such as Bio Groom, Heiniger, etc., through their India importers in order to ensure that the best quality products are used for each service.
“We source our products directly from the brands. We have quality control protocols in place for all the products we use. Before the products are introduced in our vans they go through several stages of trials and are vetted by professional groomers,” says Jessica Madan.
Professionally trained, with more than 10 years of experience in the pet grooming industry, Flying Fur’s groomers are the best in the business. Additionally, the groomers at Flying Fur attend regular refresher courses to stay abreast of the latest styles and techniques in pet care.
Flying Fur had received investment from Pet Fed in 2018, post which its access to pet parents improved significantly. Pet Fed has one of the largest databases of pet parents in the country which has helped the brand in reaching out to its target consumers very efficiently.
“In terms of promotion strategies, it primarily revolves around word of mouth. Since grooming is a regular necessity for pets, we have over 70 percent repeat clientele, which ensures that we don’t have to spend regularly on marketing to acquire new customers. In fact, we hardly spend anything on marketing and 95 percent of our traffic is organic,” prides Jessica Madan.
Clawing the Best Strategies
While we established that the pet care segment is on an all-time high currently, due to various reasons, what’s the right and best strategy to move forward for players in the segment?
Flying Fur is currently operating in 6 cities including Delhi, Noida, Gurgaon, Faridabad, Chandigarh, and Mumbai, and is soon planning to start operations in Pune and Bengaluru by the end of September.
Jessica Madan asserts, “All our appointments are taken centrally via 4 primary methods - central tele helpline, WhatsApp, website and Instagram DMs. These appointment requests are then fed into our scheduling software which helps us to schedule the appointment in a manner where the customer gets the earlier possible slot while ensuring that the travel time between two appointments is the minimum possible.”
Besides the best marketing strategies and working towards offering the best grooming services using the best, quality products, what’s working for brands across categories is reaching directly to their consumer base and being available and staying connected with them as easily as possible. And so, there has been a rise in the adoption of the D2C business model which is helping brands, during the current times, to scale and grow in a manner never seen before.
“For any D2C brand, we feel that the key strategy in the initial days is personalization. Today pet parenting is not as simple as buying any product from the store. Pet parents want to talk to us in detail about the well-being of their pet and then make an informed decision and so, being connected to our customer base is the best way forward for us,” avers Jessica Madan.
A Segment on a Stroll
While the trend was emerging during the pre-pandemic times courtesy of quick-paced urbanization, changes in lifestyle, growth in disposable income, increases in double-income households, etc., the pandemic since 2020 has shown an acceleration in these trends and has redefined a new normal leading to immense growth for the industry. And in response to this ongoing growth, Flying Fur is working towards covering as much of India as possible and groom possibly all dogs and cats across cities, in the times to come.
“Covid has had a positive impact on the business, the new work culture has promoted the trend of doorstep/ home services in the pet grooming segment. We have strict Covid protocols in place, to ensure safe and comfortable grooming. Regular temperature checks, compulsory Aarogya Setu App for all the staff members, complete sanitization of the van, inside out - before and after every grooming session, etc. are few precautionary measures at Flying Fur. Currently, we have 12 grooming vans in our fleet and each van does about Rs 2.5 lakh in revenue every month. So we’re on track to do approximately Rs 3.5 crore in overall revenue across all our vans this fiscal year," she concludes.