Perks for pooches

So what's the story?
If Fido has been sick as a dog lately, you may want to place him on a special diet. This month, Techni-Cal, a division of Heinz Canada debuted a new breed of dog food called Techni-Cal Solutions, geared to mutts who suffer nagging ailments such as sensitive stomachs. There are four new products in total: Techni-Cal Solutions Weight Control for less-active pooches who can't shed those extra pounds; Bone & Joint for arthritic canines; Vegetarian formula for those who are lactose-intolerant and have other dietary sensitivities (or are opposed to eating meat for ethical reasons); and Easy to Digest, for dogs with digestive problems.
There are also three new 'functional' treats, including one for fresh breath - most dogs could use it - another for arthritic pain and a third filled with vitamins that contribute to a healthy coat.

So what’s the story?

If Fido has been sick as a dog lately, you may want to place him on a special diet. This month, Techni-Cal, a division of Heinz Canada debuted a new breed of dog food called Techni-Cal Solutions, geared to mutts who suffer nagging ailments such as sensitive stomachs. There are four new products in total: Techni-Cal Solutions Weight Control for less-active pooches who can’t shed those extra pounds; Bone & Joint for arthritic canines; Vegetarian formula for those who are lactose-intolerant and have other dietary sensitivities (or are opposed to eating meat for ethical reasons); and Easy to Digest, for dogs with digestive problems.

There are also three new ‘functional’ treats, including one for fresh breath – most dogs could use it – another for arthritic pain and a third filled with vitamins that contribute to a healthy coat.

My Jack Russell terrier complained of a terrible migraine last night. It might be a dog’s life, but do we really need these products?

Michael Tutt, senior product manager for Techni-Cal, says research by the company’s U.S. office discovered these health concerns were most prevalent among pups, according to their very perceptive owners. ‘What we looked at was some of the key dietary issues dogs face, and we have four diets to address them,’ he says. ‘If your dog has a problem, we have a solution, hence the name [of the product.]‘

Tutt also points out that several dog food manufacturers have extended their brands to include holistic lines, incorporating natural ingredients like gingko and echinacea. While this is a growing trend, Techni-Cal didn’t want to jump on the bandwagon, because the canine benefits of alternative medicines haven’t yet been proven. ‘We don’t know that they do anything for the dog, let alone whether or not they could be negative to a dog’s health,’ he explains. ‘We wanted to be cautious, yet we also wanted to come out with a new line that we felt was unique and serviced a need. So that’s why we chose the problem-solution diets.’

Sounds like a dog-eat-dog industry. How will Techni-Cal communicate its benefits?

Mainly, marketing will consist of grassroots efforts, focusing on dog shows, like the Pet Expo in Toronto, filled with canine-lovers who clamour for ways to improve the lives of their furry best friends. Reps will hand out samples after uncovering which diet is most applicable to each passing pooch. Techni-Cal will also buy ad space in niche pet magazines, but most of the focus will be on specialty retail stores, where the new products will be sold.

‘Within that environment, consumers are knowledgeable and looking for a lot of information,’ says Tutt. ‘We have a salesforce dedicated to the specialty retail channel just to make sure they are aware of the nutritional elements of the diets, because that’s a key to purchase decisions.’

Next month, the manufacturer will launch a new merchandising system in stores that will offer details about the doggy chow on shelves, so consumers don’t have to lift heavy bags and turn them over for the particulars. ‘It will assist in clarifying what these diets are and will also help remind retailers about key benefits.’

While we’re on the topic of odd products…

Levi-Strauss has introduced a new scented T-shirt in a limited U.S. release, according to the Canadian subsidiary. Aimed at kids, each tee comes with a fragrance patch in odors that smell good enough to eat, like apple and vanilla. Hopefully children won’t tempt the taste buds of any salivating German shepherds on their way to school.

* * *

In late summer, Cadbury Crunchie Orange Crush chocolate bars debuted as a one-off at Canadian convenience stores, where they were encased in mini soda pop vending machines that sat on counters. The bars’ sponge toffee centres were dyed so that they looked like frozen pop, while an orange flavour was added to the chocolate, according to brand manager Peter Widdis, who says the product was geared at fun-seeking teens and tweens.

‘Crunchie is viewed as a chocolate and candy bar,’ he says. ‘Looking at what candy companies have done in the past: there’s always fun innovation and you see something new all the time.’ In the future, look for Cadbury to leverage more brand names under its Cadbury-Schweppes umbrella. Will the Easter Bunny give birth to Dr. Pepper-flavoured Crème Eggs?