Digital Marketing Redux   //   April 20, 2023

How PetSmart grew loyalty program members to 60 million: ‘It’s not a hard sell’

PetSmart launched its Treat Rewards loyalty program back in 2018 as a way to give customers value in exchange for their repeat business. In just six months, membership swelled to 19.1 million members. Since then, the program has grown membership by a whopping 214% to 60 million.

PetSmart’s loyalty program is free of charge and the company uses it to engage customers by giving them personalized offers. The Treat Rewards program, which lets customers earn points for every dollar spent with the pet retailer, has become an instrumental aspect of the company’s strategy to drive activation, retention and customer connection. Treats member offer activation grew nearly 150% in 2022 compared to the previous year. Alongside the program’s perks, PetSmart also credits its associates for the growth of the program.

“While many brands are often pulling back on loyalty rewards, we’re actually investing in our program and giving our customers more,” said Bradley Breuer, vice president of marketing – loyalty, personalization and CRM at PetSmart. “We like to say Treats members always get more and that’s the lens that we use to think about how we organize our full activity system.”

Treat Rewards offers new perks in addition to its base 2% cash back benefit. Members can earn points for services like grooming, Doggy Day Camp and training, among others. Members can also gain more benefits when they engage in targeted offers. Just this month, the company celebrated the growth of its membership program through its first-ever Treats Members Month, which rewards members by giving them weekly bonus deals and over 25 exclusive benefits and offers.

“It’s not a hard sell,” Breuer said. “People want to sign up because we’re offering something really compelling.”

PetSmart is a private company and does not disclose exact revenue figures. Breuer said PetSmart’s business has grown 40% over the past four years, and the loyalty program gave the company a big boost. In fact, nine out of 10 customers that transact with Petsmart attach their sales to the loyalty program. Breuer added that PetSmart’s over 1,660 locations nationwide have also been a critical component for the program’s growth. 

While PetSmart pulls multiple levers to get people to sign up for the loyalty program, associates play an influential role in the growth of the program. Breuer said the majority of sign-ups come from engagement with a store associate at the register. The store workers are trained to offer the program and are informed if any updates occur. For example, PetSmart recorded two videos to send to associates reinforcing what’s new during its Treats Members Month.     

“Associates play a really vital role in bringing it to life and driving the enrollment,” Breuer said. “They can explain to the pet parent how they’re going to get the most out of the program.”

Having 60 million members helps brands understand the demand for certain products and which products they should stock up more on. In contrast, its competitor Petco’s paid Vital Care loyalty program has over 400,000 active members as of November after being launched in 2020. 

“The sheer scale of that really allows it to kind of again like just be the premier destination for pet items,” said Rebekah Kondrat, managing partner of retail agency Rekon Retail. “It really allows PetSmart, at a very large scale, to be really smart about what items it’s ordering and what it’s stocking and to not run into some of these inventory issues.”

PetSmart’s Breuer said that because so many people that shop at PetSmart are already members, it gives the company a complete data set on customers’ purchases. One of the ways PetSmart uses the data it gets from the loyalty program is by driving the replenishment of its proprietary brands. Through the loyalty program and its offers, PetSmart gets people to “replenish” those products at a higher rate, Breuer said. Ten of PetSmart’s proprietary brands, which include Arcadia Trail, drive over $100 million in sales.

Breuer added that the loyalty program is on a path to becoming more than about discounts and sales. He said that the company is looking at different ways to reward members through perks, like early access to products and the ability to donate points to charities.

“We want to be part of an essential part of caring for pets,” Breuer said.

The story has been updated to reflect that 10 of PetSmart’s proprietary brands drove $100 million in sales