Pets.com Inc.: The Rise and Decline of a Pet Supply Retailer by Omar Merlo

Pets.com Inc.: The Rise and Decline of a Pet Supply Retailer

By Omar Merlo

  • Release Date: 2009-10-14
  • Category: Marketing & Sales

Brief Description

The case follows the rise and decline of Pets.com from its inception in 1994 until 2000. It starts with a look at the birth of Pets.com, followed by a discussion of the market, consumer behaviour and key competitors. It then focuses on Pets.com's business strategy and marketing mix. The case study provides the basis for class discussion of a number of key issues, including but not limited to a) the decision whether to enter a strategic partnership, b) the pursuit of an aggressive growth strategy, c) the design and management of the marketing mix, d) the use of aggressive communication and pricing strategies, and e) brand-building decisions. Pets.com is often cited alongside the Edsel, New Coke, Betamax and others as one of the biggest marketing blunders of all times. As such, students find it a fascinating story. The case study also asks students to reflect on some common challenges faced by organizations, such as entry and survival in a highly competitive market, how to deal with a dominant player, venture capital and entrepreneurial issues, business model design, brand management, marketing mix decisions, and the benefits and perils of a growth strategy. The case has been used successfully in the following courses: a) an MBA elective course dealing with popular marketing mistakes and failures, b) a postgraduate strategic marketing course dealing with growth strategies, c) a marketing management course at the undergraduate level focused on the design and management of the marketing mix, and d) a services marketing module at the undergraduate level on the topic of online marketing.

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