Advertisement

How Yuppy Puppy is Creating a Luxe Space Pet Parents Love

Millennials and Gen Zers are not afraid to spend on their "fur babies," so Yuppy Puppy developed a physical space brimming with luxe touches to resonate.
Photo credit: Yuppy Puppy

For today’s pet owners, their dogs, cats and even iguanas aren’t just part of the household — they’re integral to the family. This is especially true among younger consumers, like the 67% of millennials and Gen Zers who plan to have pets instead of kids. While cost was a leading reason for this pivot, consumers still plan to spend big bucks to show love towards their “fur babies.”

The majority of pet owners (76%) view their pet as their child and, as a result, are willing to spend more on pet food and treats (78%), health products like vitamins and supplements (38%) and even hygiene products (38%) this year than in 2022, according to Vericast research. The emotional connection between consumers and their pets also has sparked a surge in the pet grooming and boarding market, which has had a compound annual growth rate of 6% over the past five years, totaling an estimated $14.7 billion in the U.S.

Big-box retailers and large specialty brands aren’t the only ones to benefit from this boom: Yuppy Puppy Grooming and Boarding has created a five-star resort experience to excite pet parents as well as their dogs and cats. Located in the St. Louis suburb of O’Fallon, Mo., Yuppy Puppy services the entire St. Charles County area, offering a diverse menu of grooming and “spaw” services such as lavender and chamomile facials, nail grooming, teeth brushing, and fur trimming and styling.

Advertisement

The business sees a clear split in its audience demographic: One half is largely 20- to 35-year-olds “who are living their best life and embracing the no-kid, fur-baby lifestyle,” according to Jessica Cook, who owns Yuppy Puppy. The other audience is empty nesters.

“Both audiences have an expendable income and live in an upscale suburban neighborhood of St. Louis,” Cook explained in an interview with Retail TouchPoints. “Five years ago, most of our customers were middle-class families with one or more dogs. During COVID and after COVID, that was the slowest time for the pet industry. People were not taking their pets to daycare, grooming or boarding. Now, these services are in such high demand, so the customers’ expectations are much higher than they used to be. Our customers have high standards for their pets – the more it looks like a hotel, the better! They want their pet to stay somewhere they would stay.”

To meet these heightened expectations, Cook worked with Oculus Inc., a full-service architecture and interior design firm based in St. Louis. Together, the companies developed a concept reminiscent of the poshest hotels in the world. For example, the retail shop area is gilded in gold and marble touches. The indoor playroom, named “The Dance Floor,” exudes opulence with Tiffany blue walls and art deco signage. And the self-wash spas are designed with bright subway tiles and tinges of Hollywood glam elements.

Retail TouchPoints spoke with Cook and Oculus’ Assistant Director or Retail Matt Bradley to dig deeper into the evolution of the pet care sector and how Yuppy Puppy is evolving with the needs of today’s consumers.

Store Design Lessons from Yuppy Puppy

Retail TouchPoints (RTP): How have you seen the behaviors of “pet parents” evolve, especially over the past five years?

Matt Bradley: The industry was leaning toward the more “pampered pet” approach before COVID [the Yuppy Puppy location was designed in 2017], and the demand for doggy daycares skyrocketed post-COVID when people started returning to work and feeling guilty about leaving their dogs at home during the day.

I think there has been a change in the mindset of pet care, where owners of the ‘pampered pet’ will go to extensive lengths financially to ensure their pet has the best food and the best medical care. Now that’s trickling into doggy daycares and grooming and boarding facilities.

In the past, retail was an afterthought in pet care, but now we’re designing point-of-purchase displays to attract the pet owner. While the bedding, lights and color palette are all very upscale, there has to be a balance between the aesthetics and the function. The reality is animals have accidents, they chew, scratch, bark, etc., and so the materials need to accommodate that.

Outside of the pet owner/customer, the veterinary audience has influenced the design of fear-free facilities and reducing stressful interactions among cats and dogs or between the pet and the veterinarian. An anxious pet could react negatively to treatment. It is like the evidence-based design of creating a stress-free environment for humans in hospitals and healthcare settings, through the use of calming colors, natural light, live plants and other elements.

RTP: Jessica, what are you seeing in the world of Yuppy Puppy?

Cook: Gen Z and millennials have upped the ante for retail displays. The 20- to 25-year-olds are our biggest retail shoppers and are influencing what we put on display. We just stocked the Stanley Cup toy and those flew off the shelves!

One of our locations is busier for daycare because it’s located conveniently off the highway. More of our younger working professionals come to this location for a quick drop-off. Our other location has a smaller footprint and sees more grooming and boarding customers. These pet parents don’t mind spending 15 or more minutes dropping off their pets and tend to linger in the retail shop.

RTP: How are you using these insights to drive innovation within Yuppy Puppy?

Cook: We have seen a lot of ‘COVID pets’ come through our doors, whether for rescue or training. Some people who adopted or bought a pet during COVID have now given up their dog for rescue because they don’t want to train or groom. We have so many different breeds available for rescue that we are considering opening a separate rescue education center.

We have also found that a lot of pet parents have much higher standards for their pets than before. When selecting a boarding location, people are trying to recreate the home environment for their pets and are asking for bigger rooms, more luxurious amenities and retail products, bigger kennels, etc. The challenge is finding a balance between offering bigger rooms while remaining true to the boutique experience.

RTP: Matt, how are all of these trends impacting the design industry and how Oculus tackles projects in this sector?

Bradley: As a designer, we are catering to companies and clients that have different perspectives of animals’ lives. On one hand, veterinary clinics are seeking fear-free design in smaller clinics. It’s not the norm now, but it will probably be an industry standard in the future. On the other hand, pet boarding, grooming and daycare clients want bigger spaces with all the bells and whistles.

Featured Event

Join the retail community as we come together for three days of strategic sessions, meaningful off-site networking events and interactive learning experiences.

Advertisement

Advertisement

Access The Media Kit

Interests:

Access Our Editorial Calendar




If you are downloading this on behalf of a client, please provide the company name and website information below: