Crazy dog people: How passion drives BARK

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BARK, the makers of BarkBox, began where so many great companies do — in a heart-shaped bed on a cruise ship. Henrik Werdelin and his co-founders started BARK out of a love for dogs. “We spend endless amounts of time researching dog behaviors for product development,” Werdelin says. The result is a line of products customized for dog personalities like “Thrasher,” “Squeeker Seeker” and “De-fluffer.”

On this episode, Werdelin joins the Retail Gets Real team to discuss what goes into product research and how BARK — a company by crazy dog people, for crazy dog people — authentically reaches a passionate community of pet owners.

Henrik Werdelin (right) with host Bill Thorne (left) in the podcast studio.

Henrik Werdelin (right) with host Bill Thorne (left) in the podcast studio.

Six years later, love and obsession are still at the core of BARK’s culture. From product development to marketing, it’s all about making dogs — and the people who love them — happy. “We obsess about keeping our customers happy,” Werdelin says, “and we do that, partly because we think it’s good business, but partly because we’re dog owners ourselves.”

An exceptional product or experience will make a happy customer want to tell their friends about it, and Werdelin and his team understand that fully. Products for each BarkBox are handpicked to help customers tell stories about their fluffy family members, especially online. The BarkShop has a section called “Lights, Camera, Bark!” that focuses on products made to be Instagrammed. The effort has paid off: “We have a net promoter score that’s higher than Amazon and Apple,” Werdelin says.

Listen to the episode to learn more about how the team at BARK is transforming the pet products industry with customers who become storytellers and brand advocates.

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Katie McBreen is a co-host on NRF’s Retail Gets Real podcast. Meet all the co-hosts and learn more about the show.