Changes in lifestyle patterns and behaviours have seen pet owners accustom their pets’ lives to theirs. Consequently, there is a growing population of animal lovers who choose to pamper and travel with their pets (Hunjan and Reddy, 2020). These lifestyles choices are commonly reported in in affluent countries and among high-income people (Johnston, Szczepanski and McDonagh, 2017). In in the United Kingdom (UK), it is estimated that more than half of households own a pet (Statista, 2022a). The Coronavirus pandemic has increased the percentage of pet owners to about 60% of the general population (Fogelson, Rutledge and Zimbro, 2021). Out of this proportion of residents, dogs and cats are the most commonly domesticated animals. People who own the two species of animals are divided in nearly equal measure with 13 million dogs living with people in their homesteads, while 12 million cats doing the same (Statista, 2022a). These figures show that cats and dogs are becoming common household fixtures in many homes.
The same rise in the number of pet owners has emerged in Asia due to the westernization of most countries. In China, about 130 million animals are domesticated as pets (Statista, 2022b). A growth in the number of households that have pets in this country represents changing perceptions of their roles in people’s lives. For example, in many modern families, people do not consider their pets as animals but members of families (Statista, 2022b). Furthermore, some couples and single people look at their pets as “furi babies” (Hodgson et al., 2020). Generational differences among pet owners have also seen a significant increase in the number of people who are willing to pay a premium for their pets’ care. For example, it is estimated that a typical Chinese household could pay up to 6,600 Yuan annually for pet care (Statista, 2022b). These figures suggest that there is a growing market opportunity for pet care.
The demand for pet care has led to the proliferation of massage services as a segment of beauty care market. A massage is generally a pleasurable experience, which does not require justification to do it. However, as is the case with humans, cats also enjoy health benefits from receiving massages (Purina, 2019). Massaging cats portends significant health benefits to the animals because it improves blood circulation and support mobility (Purina, 2019). Additionally, research studies show that cat massages are associated with low blood pressure, reduced levels of anxiety, and pressure (Purina, 2019). Setting up massage parlours for animals is a relatively new business idea in Asia, except for Japan where it is popular among elderly cat owners (Purina, 2019). However, the growing demand for pet services has not been met with a commensurate increase in demand for services. Consequently, a gap in the market exists and it is made up of cat lovers, who want to pamper their pets. This document proposes a business plan to set up a cat massage parlour, known as “Paw Palace,” to exploit this opportunity in the fast-growing Chinese market.
Target Market Segment and Position
Market segmentation and positioning refers to the strategic placement of a brand vis-à-vis the competitive landscape. Relative to this definition, the proposed business will target high-end cat owners who are willing to pay a premium for the service. This group of individuals may be comprised of homemakers, professionals, and animal lovers (Pham and Pearce, 2019). Coupled with the high-pressure environment that most people experience due to work obligations, many of these cat owners prefer to leave their pets with a registered cat service (Johnston, Szczepanski and McDonagh, 2017). Among this group of customers is another subgroup of individuals who want to pamper their pets for self-care reasons (Hunjan and Reddy, 2020). Nonetheless, the high-end segment of the market is targeted because cat massage parlours are a relatively new business concept that currently appeals to high-income customers (Fan, Hsu and Liu, 2022). Therefore, this group of people have the disposable income needed to pay for a cat service.
In terms of marketing positioning, the proposed service will be marketed as a niche brand. This branding strategy is associated with premium pricing and is suitable for people who have an affinity for luxury (Raut, Brito and Pawar, 2020). Several benefits are associated with positioning a service as a niche brand, most of which are linked to high profitability and first-mover advantages (Molinillo, Ekinci and Japutra, 2019). The proposed niche marketing positioning will give Paw Palace an entry-level position in the market because few players offer the same service. Stated differently, the needs of the target market will be sufficiently covered by the proposed business plan because few businesses offer similar services. Particularly, no massage parlour for pets exclusively focuses on cats within the proposed business locality. Therefore, there is potential for the business to grow as people become more aware of the business.
In this marketing positioning plan, customers are expected to have a sound and honest relationship with the pet service providers. In this regard, there will be an online community developed on social media to allow customers to channel their concerns to the service provider. Forging this type of relationship is expected to improve customer loyalty and commitment to the business by proving to clients that the service providers are looking beyond profitability to provide personalized care (Nawaz et al., 2020). The proposed service idea is likely to be valued by the target market because personal connections will be developed between the service providers, the pets, and the owners. By understanding each client’s needs, the service providers will make the customers feel cared for because they will receive personalized care. Given the difficulty of replicating personal connections across business segments, it can be assumed that customers will remain loyal to the business.
Proposed Marketing Mix
The success of a company’s marketing strategy depends on the viability of the marketing mix strategy. A marketing mix strategy is made up of four main elements, which include people, place, price, and product (Sheth and Parvatiyar, 2021). Some literatures expand this definition to include other Ps, including packaging and positioning (Grewal, Gupta and Hamilton, 2020). However, for purposes of this business plan, the focus will be on the above-mentioned four Ps.
Product: As mentioned in this paper, the proposed service to be provided at the proposed cat massage parlour will be paw cleaning and massaging. The service will involve cleaning paws and a physical assessment of the cat., as recommended by Purina (2019). Furthermore, the massage service will be offered independent of physiotherapy services, or, upon request, the service could be blended to create a mix of both (Purina, 2019). The massage will also include specialized touch techniques to make the animal feel relaxed. Manipulation of muscle tissues will also be done to ensure the physical mobility of the cat is sound.
Physical Evidence/Servicescape: The proposed business will be located in suburban areas, as opposed to the city, because it will be close to the residences of the cat owners. By situating the business in a residential area, it will be easier for clients to drive, or walk, to the parlour and deliver, or pick, their pets conveniently (Cano et al, 2020). Additionally, locating the business in the suburban areas naturally fits with the niche business model, which targets high-end customers (Lee, 2020). Given that high-end customers lives in these neighbourhoods, the business will benefit from a potential steady stream of customers living in the host community.
Pricing: The proposed business plan targets high-end customers who can pay a premium for cat massage services. The low numbers of outlets that provide similar service and the high quality nature of services that will be offered at the facility inform the justification for using this pricing strategy (Becker, Wiegand and Reinartz, 2019). Therefore, the premium-pricing model emerges as the best fit for the proposed business. The premium pricing strategy is also adopted to minimize competition because few rivals could offer the same quality of services at the customary price (Xiong, Yu and Wang, 2021). Therfore, employees will maximize on quality of services as opposed to business profitability.
Promotion: The location of the business and the nature of the target market are important considerations for the development of the promotion strategy for Paw Palace. This is because the promotion strategy needs to reach the target market and appeal to their unique needs (Hollebeek and Macky, 2019). Stemming from this criterion of review a digital marketing approach will be used to promote the new business. This promotion plan will be limited to social media, email, Watsapp, and telemarketing methods because of their expansive outreach (Hollebeek and Macky, 2019). Given that the business will be located in small affluent communities, the owner will also rely on word-of-mouth communication to increase awareness about the enterprise.
The service blueprint highlighted in figure 1 below shows processes that will be followed in providing the proposed services.
Figure 1. Service blueprint
|Physical Evidence||Website/Mobile application||Reception design||Health consent form||Changing room design and cleanliness||Receipt|
|Customer Actions||Booking appointment||Check-in||Sign health consent form||Change clothes||Receive massage with cat||Pay Bill||Check-out|
↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑
……………………………..………Line of Interaction……………………………………..
|Front Stage||Accept Reservations |
Confirmation of date and time of appointment
|Welcome customer||Explain health and safety protocols||Show customer the changing room and provide all relevant amenities||Show customer the changing room and the sitting position of the cat||Making payments||Confirm receipt of payment and bid customer good bye|
↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑
……………………………………..………Line of Visibility…………………………………….
|Back Stage||Check availability of spaces||Prepare Disclaimer||Clean changing room||Prepare massage room and cat||Verify customer identity||Lean rooms and dispose off used items|
↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑ ↑
……………………………..………Line of Internal Interaction………………………………..
|Support Processes||Maintain reservation roster and protocols||Prepare equipment||Legal consultations||Replenish bathroom supplies from storage facility||Maintain and clean holding room||Maintain reservation system|
There are four main sections of the service blueprint, each divided with lines of interaction within the firm and outside of it. Each level of design is expected to take between 30 minutes and an hour to complete. Therefore, the customer should take between an hour, or two, between check-in and checkout.
Launch and Implementation Schedule
As demonstrated in Table 1 below, the launch and implementation schedule is expected to span nine weeks. This statement means that the grand opening will be done on the last week.
Table 1. Launch and implementation schedule
|Week 1||Week 2||Week 3||Week 4||Week 5||Week 6||Week 7||Week 8||Week 9|
|Searching Leased properties|
|Employee recruiting and training|
|Admission of first group of customers|
As demonstrated above, the first two weeks of business are allocated to preparation processes involving the search for a leased property and making site modifications. The introduction is likely to take one week to complete with key activities being equipment purchases and employee recruitment. The marketing process is likely to last for two weeks and will be coupled with employee training processes to coincide with the soft opening that is expected to occur on the seventh week. Afterwards, refurbishments and restocking of products will occur on the eight week in readiness for the grand opening that would occur a week later.
As demonstrated in this business proposal the proposed business is intended to provide a cat massage service. The enterprise will be differentiated from the competition because it will be niche and only target high-end customers. The implications of the business on target customers are the peace of mind knowing that their pet is taken care of. Nonetheless, the proposed service is limited to the provision of high-end services, meaning that it does not address other market segments. Additionally, the proposed services are exclusive to cat owners as a unique segment of the pet owner’s population. Future businesses may consider filling the marketing needs represented by these market gaps.
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