How to Bite Off the High End of the Market
Jax & Bones targets affluent buyers, and their pets, with upscale pet toys and beds. Here's how they do it.
Inspired by her beagle, Jax, Tina Nguyen created Jax & Bones in 2006 to make pet products. Though she was entering a crowded market--an estimated $59 billion in 2014 sales--the former restaurant manager saw an unmet need: high-end pet beds that appeal to affluent homeowners and help them express their style. By designing specifically for this market, Jax & Bones landed its $200 pet beds and top-line pet toys in stores such as Bloomingdale's, Pottery Barn, and Barneys New York, catapulting sales to an expected $3 million in 2014, up from $2.7 million the previous year. Nguyen shares her strategy for growing a luxury-product company in a commodity marketplace.
1. Create a luxury identity
Nguyen takes her cues not just from the pet industry, but from the fashion and interior design worlds as well, creating products that reflect the latest colors, fabrics, textures, and styles. (She also considers human bed trends. For instance, when memory foam beds for people gained popularity, she added memory foam to her dog beds.) Last year, steel gray, silver, and blue were big in home design, so Jax & Bones added those colors to its line. The result? A 30 percent boost in sales for an existing dog-bed design, making it a top seller for the company. "If you have nice furniture," says Nguyen, "you don't want an ugly dog bed."