Finally – Subscription pricing comes to pet products

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The challenges/needs of pet ownership haven’t changed, but smart new ideas and tech solutions are really changing the game.  With that change, however, comes increasingly higher pet product pricing.  Don’t want to change the litter box?  The Litter Robot 3 does it for you for $449. No time to walk the dog?  The GoPet Treadwheel lets him exercise at home for $1650. Want to keep your dog entertained while you’re away?  The PupPod/feeder combo will teach your dog to solve increasingly more difficult tasks in order to get a treat.  My personal favorite, if positioned correctly, it can exercise your pup too!

PupPod is a terrific idea but its bundled price of $446, is steep for a pet product.

PupPod is an interactive toy that links to a feeder (different manufacturer) via Bluetooth.  The toy can be purchased solo for $179 but that means your dog would have to find lights and sounds motivating enough to interact with.  I think that’s a stretch. 

PupPod is the first pet product to offer a choice of 4 payment plans to, in essence, finance a purchase.  This is smart.

PupPod offers a deal with PayPal Credit in which purchasers have their choice of a weekly, bi-weekly, monthly or “no payments for 6 months” payment plan.  They charge no interest and don’t penalize price-wise between the options.  Today’s buyers expect choices like these that are tailored to their lifestyles.   Allowing them immediate gratification with a “pay as you go” plan with no interest, is pretty attractive.  Personally, I find the weekly and bi-weekly options to be overly complex, but the overall idea is innovative and offers a real solution for increasingly pricey pet tech items.

PupPod is also the first to offer a choice of 3 subscription plans that offer various service levels.  This is the future. 

I have worked with pet tech products and suggested this pricing model but no one has tried it, until now.  In exchange for a lower upfront price, $69 (versus $179), buyers have to choose amongst three plans:

There are a couple of things that are so smart in this pet product pricing model.  First, a PupPod purchase is not a “one and done.”  The company can build a long-term relationship with customers and trade them up, etc.  Secondly, they have lowered the price to a point that is approachable and should generate a lot more trial than it would at $179.  Lastly, the free 30 day trial is, or will be, almost a point of entry as millennial buyers expect this service before making a commitment.

BUT PupPod may need to go back to the drawing board on their value proposition.

I think this idea is very sound with one major exception – after potential buyers watch the great videos of the dog getting treats, they work their way through the decision process to choose a plan THEN they find out that they still have to purchase the interactive feeder for $299.  Big disappointment.

I’ve done enough pricing research to imagine that potential buyers are fairly put off at the idea of paying $4-20/month for a toy that doesn’t deliver what the website promises.  Net:  the feeder needs to be included in the subscription model or the value equation seems way off. 

Another issue with the way this great idea has been executed is that it is just too complex.

Rather than offer just three subscription plans, PupPod offers six. Plus the pricing differences between the monthly and annual offerings are so small that it is just irritating to do the math.  Add that to the fact that the financed bundled version is on the front page…a buyer needs to be motivated to work though all this information.

How could PupPod test their way to the optimal pet product price?

The use of a website A/B split test is one way however it takes time to get a readable sample on each test site.  It also alerts competitors to what you are up to.  Another way to test pricing would be to do an online concept test in which screened consumers are offered your product at different prices/models and they indicate their willingness to buy.  When you do this monadically (each consumer only sees one price) and compare across cells, it tells you where the volume-maximizing price lies.  This methodology is one of the few that actually correlates to in market results.

So kudos to PupPod for being innovative in their pet product pricing and leading the way to a new model for other pricey pet tech products!

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