Serving Up Pet Treats To The World

Having successfully expanded into the region, homegrown Yappy Pets is now setting its sights further abroad.

Founded in 1994 by Mr Yap Seng Teck, Yappy Pets started off as a pet food distributor in Singapore before expanding its portfolio to represent a wide range of in-house and third-party brands that include not only pet food, but also treats, hygiene care, and accessories.

Today, Yappy Pets is one of Singapore’s biggest distributors and suppliers of pet food and accessories, representing over 16 brands locally, including Nurture Pro, earthmade by Boneve, Loveabowl, Ziwi Peak, Inaba Ciao, and Oxbow Animal Health. About five years ago, the company started to look beyond our shores, and has since expanded its international footprint to countries such as China, Malaysia, Brunei, Thailand, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, and India.

Jasmine Tan, Yappy Pets’ General Manager, shares her company’s experience expanding overseas, how the Singapore Business Federation (SBF) has helped them in these efforts, and the next steps in their internationalisation journey.

Yappy Pets distributes over 16 leading brands. How does the company decide to work with a new brand?

Basically, we look at the market readiness of a brand. Meeting market demand and introducing brands and products at the right time is critical for us. Therefore, data analytics is very important, and we will usually conduct surveys and market trend spotting to identify relevant products that can fill the current gaps in the market.

One example is Inaba Ciao, which is the top-selling brand of cat treats in Japan, and also very popular around the world. Before we took on this brand, our company portfolio did not include cat treats, but we understood that that this market segment was growing quickly and that we would need products in that category. That was how we decided to take on Inaba Ciao.

How does Yappy Pets identify reliable and digitally ready partners overseas to grow your business, especially in e-commerce?

We understand that different markets have unique characteristics. For example, in South Korea and China, e-commerce is very advanced and matured compared to our market. So, our market penetration strategy is tailored to each market.

Once we have identified the market that we want to expand into, we will assess them before reaching out. We also must explore their networks and channels and conduct an analysis of the brands that they are already representing before we talk to them and explore potential collaboration.

How does Yappy Pets tweak its product offerings to cater to local consumer preferences in the different markets overseas?

Pet owners from certain markets like South Korea and Japan tend to have smaller dogs, compared to, those in Indonesia and the Philippines. So, for the smaller breeds, we will offer products that come in smaller packaging sizes. For example, instead of a four-pounder bag, we would package it as a 300-gram bag for these smaller dogs.

Are there plans for Yappy Pets to expand its international footprint?

We are trying to get into the US market as soon as possible. This is something that we are hoping to achieve within the next one or two years. The channels in the US are very different, and the way they do marketing is also very different. So, it is really a whole new game for us, and we will have to adapt to the preferences of the American pet owners.

The scale of the US market is very different. In Singapore we only need to work mainly with distributors and retailers. However, in the US, they have agents, wholesalers, and independent retailers so we have many different stakeholders to work with.

Also, in the US you have to register your product in every state that you want to sell in, so again that is very different for us.

How has SBF helped in your internationalisation efforts?

Internationalisation is really a big challenge if you do not have a presence in the target market. There are many areas that you need help with, such as who to work with, how to enter the market, and what to do when it comes to government rules and regulations.

Understanding the market and finding the right partners are the two biggest challenges when it comes to internationalisation. We are appreciative of SBF’s help in providing us with deeper insights into our target markets through the various seminars and networking events and helping to connect us to representatives and potential partners in those markets.

Yappy Pets is a participant of SBF’s Company Case Study Series. The objective of this series is to share translatable key lessons and industry best practices for Singapore companies looking to internationalise. For the full series of companies, please click here.