Welcome to PetBusinessProfessor.com

Welcome to PetBusinessProfessor.com. My name is John Gibbons. I have been in consumer products sales and marketing for 35 years – the last 25 years have been spent in the Pet Industry.

My responsibility during that time has been National Sales and/or Marketing for such companies as TFH/Nylabone, Aspen Pet (acquired by PetMate), Coastal Pet and Paragon Pet Products.

Strategies, tactics and execution have been my focus in driving the profitable growth of these businesses.
I have learned a few things along the way – often the “hard way” ….and even developed some tools, templates and techniques to make the journey for others a little easier.

I established this website to encourage the exchange of these ideas among Pet Businesses and continue learning new ones. The industry only remains strong if the business elements remain strong.

My experience is primarily from the viewpoint of the manufacturer. However, the topics that we will discuss should be relevant to any Pet Business.

The Pet Market starts with the Manufacturer and ends with the consumer. Take a look at the chart below:


Unless the Manufacturer is selling directly to the consumer out of their own warehouse, there will be other businesses involved. As you can see there are a number of different options. “Partnerships” between businesses are generally required to reach the ultimate customer – the consumer.

I have found one universal rule in business –
“For a partnership to work, everyone must make money!”

Some of the topics we cover will be of immediate interest to everyone. Others will be more directed to a specific group. However, all are directly relevant to maintaining a strong Pet Industry so they are relevant to us all.

I look forward to “talking” with all of you!

SuperZoo & GPE – What’s the difference?

GPE had over 1000 exhibitors and SuperZoo just over 900 so GPE is about 10% larger in sheer numbers. About 600 exhibitors have booths at both shows. This means that each show has 300-400 exhibitors that you won’t see at the other show – at least for 2014.

Both shows have designated floor sections which pull together exhibitors with a common theme. Other than this segregation, neither show segregates the other booths in any way.

The chart below and the ones that follow show the exhibitor count, % of total booths and compares Superzoo’s numbers to the GPE’s which occurred 4 months earlier. Let’s see how they differ.


In Numbers SuperZoo has 7 sections, while GPE has only 5.

They have 4 sections in common:

1. Natural – The growth of this industry is readily apparent as both shows fill however space they designate. SuperZoo actually had 81% more than GPE
2. Boutique/Rodeo Drive – Fashion is another growing area. It is especially apparent at Superzoo which has a focus on independent retailers and is perfectly timed for the independents to start their purchases for the Fall lift.
3. Aquatic – Traditionally stronger for GPE. The show is located in Florida with proximity to a number of wholesale fish suppliers.
4. New Vendors – Strong section for both shows.

Differing sections:
1. International (GPE Only) – SuperZoo has international exhibitors but it doesn’t generate quite the “Global” focus of GPE.
2. Critter Alley & Equine (Superzoo Only) – SuperZoo segregates a “live” animal section and a small section for Equine.
3. Groomers – SuperZoo has a special emphasis for groomers

Now we come to classifications that I have made. The next section is:

Exhibitor Type – By function: By Animal type


1. At both shows, Cats are Royalty (2 of every 5 booths have Cat products) …but Dogs Rule! (4 out of 5 booths have products for dogs.
2. GPE is a little stronger In Fish, small animals and birds.
3. SuperZoo has over 3 times the number of Pet Distributors as GPE. This reflects the emphasis on independent retailers as does the larger number of exhibitors offering retailer business services.
4. The increased number of Exhibitors offering “gifts” reflects this difference as well as the timing of the show – the beginning of the “gift” buying season.

Dogs and Cats are the unquestioned royalty of Pet. I have divided products designed for them into 32 subcategories. The top 8 are the same for both shows…although not in the exact same order.

There are only a couple of notable differences.
1. OTC Treatments and Supplements are growing rapidly. This is a reflection of a strong industry trend.
2. Clothes and costumes – With a 50% increase, this reflects the growing fashion segment and the timing of SuperZoo at the start of the Fall buying season for independents.


Both SuperZoo and GPE have significant numbers of attendees across all Channels of the Pet Market. Regardless of your focus, it’s possible to “gitter done” at either show. The difference seems to be that SuperZoo has more of a “local” flair while GPE has a broader international appeal. The timing of the 2 shows is slightly different as GPE lends itself to more long range planning while SuperZoo’s feel is an “act now” for it’s retailer attendees.

The complete list of dog and cat subcategories follows below. Take a look to see what is important for your business!

[box]Coming in my next post, we’ll start a conversation on everyone’s favorite subject – price increases 🙂[/box]


Attending SuperZoo? Do you have a plan?

There are over 900 exhibitors at SuperZoo and the show is “open” for 19 hours. “Do the Math!” If you don’t stop to chat with anyone in the aisles or for food, a drink or to go to the bathroom, don’t attend any classes…and allow no time for walking, you can spend about 1 and half minutes with each exhibitor…It looks like you may need a plan…!

Vegas always has its allure…even in July, but your primary purpose for attending SuperZoo or GPE or Total Pet Expo or any industry event should be to improve your business.

[box]With 900+ Exhibitors you have 1½  minutes for each, if you don’t eat, drink, go to a class, go to the restroom or allow time for walking.

You may need a plan!


Of course, you should take the time to visit the new product area, sign up for helpful classes, network with other industry professionals and walk the whole show. When you walk the show, the enormity of our growing industry will be readily apparent

Every business can improve in terms of products. If you are a retailer, what sections of your store are not doing as well as you hoped and need a “facelift” or conversely, what areas are growing and need products to fill additional space? Category managers are only interested in visiting exhibitors relevant to their “categories”. Representatives also may be looking for new manufacturers…in specific product categories. Manufacturers could be looking to find distributors to handle their products or just looking to “check out” the competition. In regard to products, there is always something!

Every level of our industry has a lot of “players”. This huge base produces a huge variety of needs…and since we’re Americans we want what we want…and we want it quickly! J

I designed a tool in Excel, the Super Search SuperZoo Visit Planner to make “working the show” easier and more productive for ALL attendees – retailers, distributors, reps, groomers, vets…even exhibitors.

  • From the simplest…”just give me a list that I can look at on my phone or tablet quickly in either Booth # order or alphabetically”
  • To the most complex…”can do a simultaneous search for multiple specific product categories, allowing me to personally narrow down the initial results and see the “final” alphabetically or in booth number order”.

The Super Search does both…and more…and does it quickly!

There is a download link below for the Super Search tool as well as one for the instructions. Yes, there are specific instructions for Super Search. I recommend that you read them and print them out for reference during your initial search. They are 4 pages long. Before you “have a cow” about the length of the instructions, take a look at some of the instructions you have around the house. My vacuum cleaner – 11 pages; coffee maker – 21 pages; garage door opener – a novel. Instructions are by necessity long, even when the actions are pretty simple

I’ve been in consumer products for over 35 years. Some of the things that I learned the very first week still stick with me. I remember one of the Chapter Names from my very first company Sales Manual (J&J). “Plan your work. Work your plan!” – Clichés become clichés because they are inherently true!

If you are going to Superzoo – Plan your Work! Work your Plan! It will pay big dividends to your business!

Download the files and get “planning” right now!


[button link=”https://pmud8a.a2cdn1.secureserver.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/SuperSearchSUPERZOOEXHIBITOR-VISIT-PLANNER-InstructionsFINAL.pdf” type=”icon” newwindow=”yes”] Download Instructions (PDF)[/button]

(To save the PDF to your computer Right Click the download link and select “Save Link As…”)


[button link=”https://pmud8a.a2cdn1.secureserver.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/FinalSuperZooSuperSearch-USE.xlsm” type=”icon” newwindow=”yes”] Download SuperSearch (Excel)[/button]


[box type=”shadow”] In my next post, we’ll take a look at the product categories in terms of number and % of Superzoo exhibitors…compared to GPE. Are there any differences?[/box]