Petco Targets 33 Million Owners Of Birds, Hamsters, And Other Small Pets With Expanded Loyalty Program – Forbes

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Petco is thinking small with its next big move, and taking steps to gain ground in what it sees as a lucrative market – small pets.

The pet retailer announced today that it is expanding its Vital Care loyalty program beyond dogs and cats, and including owners of birds, fish, reptiles, hamsters, and other small pets. Vital Care is a membership program that gives pet owners discounts on purchases and services as well as membership rewards.

Petco is in a dog-eat-dog fight with rivals like online retailer Chewy, along with mass merchants Walmart WMT , Target TGT , and Amazon AMZN , to win and keep the loyalty of pet parents. Much of that competition to date has focused on dogs and cats. Now, Petco is looking to get ahead of ahead of the pet pack in winning over small pet owners.

But for now at least, small owners will be getting a smaller number of Vital Care benefits.

For dog and cat owners, Vital Care membership includes unlimited routine vet exams and discounts on dog grooming. Vet care, however , will not extend to small pets under the current Vital Care offering, as explained on the Petco website.

Small pet owners instead will get discounts on purchases of food and supplies, or purchases of more small pets.

The monthly membership fee is smaller for little pets – $9. 99 a month compared to $19. 99 a month for dogs and cats. Pet owners who already have a Vital Treatment membership for a dog or cat can add a small pet membership for $7. 99 a month, per pet type.

Petco in June launched another bold play to expand its market with the opening of its first Neighborhood Farm & Pet Supply store and care center in Floresville, Texas. Those stores are designed to address what Petco sees as demand with regard to one-stop shops for health and wellness products and services for farms animals including horses, cows, pigs and goats.

Petco saw an increase within small pet adoptions during the pandemic, similar to the spike in new ownership of dogs and cats, Petco CEO Ron Coughlin said in an interview.

“Our companion animal business, whether it’s fish, whether it’s birds, all different types of animals were growing double-digits, ” Coughlin said.

A survey by the American Pet Products Association found that there currently are some 13 million households that own fish in the U. S, 9 million bird households, 6 mil small animal owners, plus 5 million reptile owning households.

The launch of the rural-farm-animal focused store, and the positive response so far, shows the opportunities for a broader interpretation of the animal market.

At the Floresville store, “we have equine, we have bovine, we sell chicks that people use regarding egg production, ” Coughlin said. “Actually we have three different types of chicks in our small-town rural locations, so this is an all new addressable market for us, ” he said.

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