Print on demand pet products are hot. They always have been and probably always will be. Pet products in general is a growing industry and has been for some time.
It is one of those evergreen industries that seems to be unaffected by global pandemics or recessions. The reason is quite simple: pets have become part of the family. People treat their pets like a family member and not like an animal.
As a marketer, this is something I like to see. When people have an emotional attachment to something, it makes marketing much easier to sell.
Ultimately people buy based on their emotions and when it comes to pets people spend freely because there is no real logic in their buying decisions. It is mostly driven by emotional and irrational buying decisions.
There are no ear shattering revelations. The pet industry is uber competitive for these very reasons. While it is a super great industry to get into, you should get your gloves out because it will be a shit-fight to get your share of the pie.
Don’t let the competition scare you though. Generally, competition in any industry is a good sign. It means that there is money to be made.
With the right products, marketing and strategy you can get our share of the pie. I believe that with print on demand pet products you have the opportunity to carve out a market for yourself in the pet industry.
Competing With Big Brand Pet Products and Dropshippers
So, it is no secret that the pet industry is highly lucrative but super competitive. It is important that we have some sort of understanding and some sort of gameplan on how we deal with the competition.
In terms of eCommerce we have two issues to deal with. The first is big brands and the second is dropshippers.
When you think of pet products the big name retailers like Petco and PetSmart immediately come to mind. When you think of individual pet brands, it is not that obvious.
The vast majority of individual pet brands are related to pet food and pet health. Pet products is unique in the sense that there are no real big brands that dominate the industry.
Big brand stores like Petco has a huge presence online. They sell almost any pet product you can think of at prices you can not compete with.
Then, there’s Amazon. While I loathe Amazon’s business model, you simply can not beat them for price. Like Seth Godin pointed out “You can not out-Amazon, Amazon”. You can not beat them at their game.
One way to overcome the price competition (also known as the race to the bottom) is with unique products that you can not find on Petco or Amazon.
This is where dropshippers come in. Dropshipping new and unique products from China is a great strategy because showing pet owners unique and novel pet products usually gets their wallets out for an impulse purchase.
The challenge with these dropshipping products from China is that it has a very limited lifespan. Other dropshippers will quickly catch on and eventually Amazon sellers and even Petco and Walmart will start selling it as well.
So, how does print on demand pet products fit into this landscape?
I think that print on demand actually gives you an advantage that will allow you to position yourself really well and not compete directly with big brands or with dropshippers.
You do not want to compete on price – like Amazon and Petco does (you will never compete with them).
You do not want to compete with a FAD product – eventually every second dropshipper will sell exactly the same product from Aliexpress. You may have a 6 month to 1 year window of success with this strategy.
With print on demand pet products we have 2 important factors in our favour:
Selling something that can not be found in stores or in Amazon is a huge advantage. With print on demand, you biggest “edge” is your design(s). It is unique and special and has a more human and personal touch than mass produced products.
Yes, your designs can be copied but it is not nearly on the same level as dropshippers who all sell exactly the same product from China.
2. Personalized Products
With print on demand you have the opportunity to sell personalized products. This is HUGE. This truly allows you to offer something that Amazon and Petco simply can not offer.
Personalized products fit the pet industry perfectly. It plays right into the idea of the emotional connection people have with their pets.
By offering customers the opportunity to personalize your products for their pet, you sell something of real value. You sell an emotional connection that they have with their pet.
Amazon can’t sell that. Amazon is not interested in that. Dropshippers can’t sell that. They can only sell a mass produced product from China.
If you keep these two ideas in the forefront of everything you do when you start selling print on demand pet products then you will have a huge advantage and in the process “eliminate” the biggest competition.
Print on Demand Products and The Pet Industry
The pet industry in the USA is worth approximately $72 billion per year. That is a staggering amount of money but this includes industries like pet food, pet health and growing.
With more than 50% of all American owning at least one dog or cat it is no wonder there is so much opportunity here.
The biggest trend in the pet industry that has evolved in the last decade is the so-called humanization of pets.
Pets are no longer animals. They are part of the family. They are loved, cared for and treated like a full blown family member. This means, they are spent like any other family member.
What is of particular interest for us when selling print on demand pet products is the fact that 60% of all pet owners spend money buying toys, sweaters, name tags and other dog apparel.
That is a $43 billion dollar pie and you only need a very small slither of a slice to have a very decent print on demand business.
The real secret to selling print on demand products is to NOT sell the actual product. What you are really selling is the design; the idea and the emotion.
Print on demand are fair quality blank products and are not all that special. It has very little value or selling points on its own.
With print on demand you create the value. You create value with your design and your marketing. Like anything in marketing, it is not what you sell but how you sell it.
Specific Print on Demand Pet Products
In recent years print on demand has shifted quickly from apparel products into more specific products. A number of print on demand companies now offer specific pet products.
The advantage with these products is that it has a practical use for pets. This is important in the sense that some people like to justify their purchases with logic.
You could sell print on demand pet products on anything (as we will discuss later) but by using specific pet products it has a practical function as well which will appeal to a much broader market.
1. Pet Beds
Every pet needs a bed. In fact, most pets get a new bed every year as they get chewed through or become too unhygienic.
Placing unique designs on blank pet beds is one of the most straight forward print on demand pet products.
It is a product that has wide appeal, is highly practical and has a consistent turnaround. Offering customers something cute, funny or breed related is where it’s at.
I would not even attempt to sell pet beds print on demand if I can’t offer personalization. Giving customers the option to have their dog’s name on the bed is a must.
2. Dog Bowls
Like pet beds, dog bowls are practical and affordable. While a pet bed can set a dog owner back $50 plus, a dog bowl is more in the $20 to $30 range.
Dog bowls with a dog’s name on it are hugely popular and if you can find a creative way to offer that to customers then you have a winner.
Something funny or something that relates to the dog breed are usually a good combo. You can get really creative and come up with some killer designs like the one below from Etsy.
3. Dog Bandanas
Dog bandanas are accessories and have little practical use. Pet owners like to put cute clothes on their pets and that is the most popular angle.
A cute saying, a name or a colorful design are all popular approaches and canoodling in the park with a cute bandana is the envy of every dog.
These are particularly popular with bigger dog breeds.
Print on demand dog bananas are available through Gooten.
4. Dog Jerseys
Hands down the best print on demand pet product is Subliminator’s Dog Hoodie. Not only is this an incredibly unique product, it is a sublimation product that gives you a lot of design options.
Dog jerseys is a very practical product but also very “fashionable”. Dog owners love to dress up their dogs – especially with funny and quirky dog clothing.
These dog hoodies is made even cooler by the fact that it is a “hoodie”. There is a huge opportunity to use many of the most popular “human hoodie” designs on dog hoodies.
The mere fact that a dog is wearing something that is popular on humans makes it funny.
These dog jerseys are not cheap but if you can add some personalization it can be a big hit. It is a high quality product and something truly unique.
5. Pet Placemats
Pet placements is an interesting product that can easily be overlooked. If you are a pet owner then you know how messy these little buggers can be. A pet placement is basically a mat to sit a pet bowl on.
It makes cleaning easy and prevents constant spills all over your kitchen floor. Pet placemats are particularly popular with cat owners but smaller dog breeds also use them extensively.
Similar to dog bowls, you want to offer personalization along with a design that is in keeping with the pet breed.
Pet placemats are available through Gooten and comes with a non-slip rubber backing.
6. Dog Collars and Tags
Dog collars and dog tags are all over Etsy like a pandemic. It is by far the most popular pet product you can sell in terms of personalization.
A dog tag with a dog’s name and phone number is seen as a security measure by dog owners which makes it incredibly practical.
Simply printing a dog’s name on a flimsy tog tag like the one’s offered by CustomCat simply won’t cut it. If you look at the stuff sold on Etsy then there are some amazing products to compete with.
Dog tags offer very little room for design so you will need to find creative ways to write a name and a phone number. Ultinatel;y there are only that many ways to do that.
I think that this is one print on demand product type where you have to look elsewhere. The popular print on demand platforms simply don’t offer the right products.
You could look at repurposing ShineOn’s pendants as a pet tag. That is certainly possible but will need some good product descriptions to ensure customers know what they are buying.
ShineOn allows you to only sell the pendants which makes it possible to be sold as a pet tag.
CJ Dropshipping’s print on demand products actually have a few interesting options. They give you a lot more scope for interesting dog collars and dog harnesses to be personalized.
This is the route I would recommend for custom dog collars, tags and harnesses.
General Print on Demand Pet Products
The beauty about creating pet products with print on demand is that you appeal to pet owners. Pets could not give a crap about the products.
This means that your pet product does not have to be “practical” or relate directly to something useful for a dog or a cat.
You can create pet products from virtually any print on demand product. As long as the design relates to pets and can connect emotionally with the pet owner, it can work.
Here are five general print on demand products that work incredibly well with pet designs.
People are not only attached to their pets but also very passionate about their dog breeds. When someone is passionate about something there is an opportunity in print on demand.
There are entire print on demand stores dedicated to only selling apparel products about certain dog breeds.
Dachshunds, Collies, Beagles, Yorkies. The list goes on and on. People tend to just love their breed of dog above anything else- and they are proud of it. They are proud to show it off.
Any niche where people are proud to show it off you can capitalize on with apparel products. T-shirts, hoodies, caps and even leggings.
One of the most popular print on demand products is still mugs. Not only is a great gift, it is also something that is quite personal. Most people own several mugs and for many it is very sentimental.
Unlike T-shirts where people like to “show off” what they love, mugs can be more personal. Mugs give us the perfect opportunity to sell personalized print on demand pet products.
Personalizing mugs with photos of a pet or pet names can be a great way to sell mugs to pet owners.
Mugs can also be more general and something funny and quirky about pets or dog breeds tends to get a chuckle from co-workers, friends or family.
Keep that in mind as “getting a chuckle” is a big driver for what people look for when buying mugs.
Sublimation print blankets is one of the hottest print on demand products in the last 2 to 3 years. Not only are blankets practical, but with sublimation you have a large and full colour palette to work with.
Blankets can have a lot of uses and many print on demand sellers seem to overlook how it can be used as a pet product.
Most pets have a blanket (or two or three). Fleece blankets are great for pets because they are quite robust and nice and cozy.
The secret to selling pet blankets is personalization. A cute design that relates to a pet breed and giving customers the option to personalize it is a recipe for success.
Blankets can also be treated as apparel products and you can use the same pet breed designs on blankets as people tend to love “showing off” with blankets as they do with T-shirts.
4. Canvas Prints
Canvas prints, framed prints and even posters are really great print on demand products to sell. Not only are they high quality products with a real practical use, they also have high profit margins.
You can walk into almost any home and you will see people putting up pictures of their loved ones on their walls. People also love to put up pictures of their pets.
Creating artistic renditions of people’s pets and putting that on a canvas is a brilliant print on demand product idea that still has a lot of room for creativity.
It combines two great aspects of what makes print on demand products sell. It is personalized (Customers just upload a picture) and it is highly unique (you can not buy this in a shop).
With a little bit of photoshop skills you can easily transform pictures into an artistic rendition. You can also look into print on demand providers who do this for you. CJ Dropshipping offers these canvases – all you have to do is supply the customer photo of the dog.
The jewellery market is huge and print on demand jewellery with companies like ShineOn is a great area to get into.
One niche that traditionally works very well with jewellery is the “bereavement niche” (if you can call it a niche). People like to commemorate loved ones that passed away with jewellery.
This can easily be applied to pets. Photo uploads, engravings ec. Are all great ways to tap into this niche market within the print on demand pet industry.
5 Tips For Selling Print on Demand Pet Products
There’s a huge opportunity for selling print on demand pet products in the $72 billion industry. While it is highly competitive, your edge in selling print on demand products is that you can offer something truly unique.
Even within the print on demand pet niches there is a lot of competition. You will need to put your gloves on if you want to compete here.
Here are 5 tips to help you succeed with print on demand in any of the pet niches.
1. Niche Down
Trying to sell general pet products is a big no-no. You will have to niche down and find smaller market segments that are under-served. Like any market, you need to find “holes” in the market where you can find a way in.
This is what niche marketing is and with the broad scope of “pets” there are many opportunities. You can go after specific dog breeds. Almost every dog breed has a market big enough to sustain it as these people are super passionate.
There are also different trends within every pet market you can niche into. Vegan pets, guide dogs, rescue dogs ec. These are all issues dog owners are very passionate about.
By using more general print on demand products you can venture well outside the popular dog and cat niches.
The kinds of pets people keep are insane. The more obscure and the more unique the pet niche the more passionate they tend to be.
I must have said it hundred times already (actually I’ve only said it 14 times) but offering personalization on the print on demand pet products you sell is the key.
Not only does it set you apart from Petco and Amazon but it sets you apart from anyone else trying to compete with you.
Offering unique designs and the ability to customize the designs will truly set you apart.
3. Don’t Sell The Product
Print on demand products are generic products that have little value in and of themselves. The value comes from your designs and what you add to these blank products.
Don’t try and sell the product itself. At any given time any dog owner can go out and buy a much better dog bowl than the one you are trying to sell.
By selling the design and the personalization you offer something unique and valuable.
4. Emotion Sells
People are incredibly emotional about their pets. If you can tap into this emotion you can find a way into this lucrative market.
Always remember that people consider pets as part of the family. Always keep that emotional connection at the forefront when you are creating print on demand products for pets or pet owners.
They don’t buy the products you have to sell. They buy the emotion that the product triggers.
5. Always Be Testing
Always be testing is the motto of all direct response marketers. If you don’t test it then you don’t know if it works.
In many ways the math is quite simple when it comes to print on demand. The more products you test, the more success you will find.
Don’t be afraid to test new and interesting print on demand products. Putting your designs on different products is a great way to expand your reach and it is not uncommon to see “dead designs” take off on new product types.
A similar approach is to test popular sayings and designs in your niche by relating them to pets, dog breeds or pet owners.