Fetch™ is an innovative (patent pending) dog waste clean-up and disposal device marketed to dog owners. While many products are available to assist owners in cleaning up after their dogs, they are at best cumbersome and at worst ineffective. Many of these products require the user to touch, see, and smell dog waste during and after use and are also unsuitable for use when walking. Fetch™ offers the following benefits:
- Ease of use – simple one-handed operation.
- Ease of disposal – contents are automatically deposited into a waste receptacle for disposal.
- Compact – its size makes it ideal for use when walking.
- Clean – the liner bag keeps the device from being contaminated.
- Environmentally friendly – biodegradable liner bags can be disposed of in a toilet.
3.1 Competitive Comparison
There are four distinct types of dog-waste disposal products currently available.
Type 1 - Mechanisms With Bag
Products in this group use a mechanism in conjunction with a bag to collect, carry, and dispose of dog waste. Most of these products utilize a long handle. The handle, while intended to allow the user to operate the product at a distance from the waste, makes operation difficult. Products with long handles are also cumbersome to carry. All of these products require the user to seal the bag by hand and many require the user to manually dispose of the bag. In practice these products are difficult to manipulate effectively and the manner of operation results in incomplete retrieval of the waste and/or unintended smearing of waste on the device. These operations are distasteful to many people and discourage the use of such products.
Type 2 - Mechanisms Without Bag
Products in this group use some type of mechanism to collect, carry, and dispose of dog waste. While these products suffer the same disadvantages as the products in the first group, the primary disadvantage of these products is that they must be carefully cleaned of the residue of the collected waste before they are stored or it will result in offensive odors and dirt being brought inside from outdoors. This group also includes rakes and shovels.
Type 3 - Modified Bags
Products in this group include paper or plastic bags that have features added (e.g., cardboard, stiff plastic) to keep the users hand from directly touching the dog waste and make it less distasteful to pick up dog waste. These products are often bulky and awkward, making transport and handling quite difficult. Moreover, these products present difficult cleaning problems and, accordingly, products of this type are objectionable from an aesthetic as well as functional standpoint. In addition, these bags are not biodegradable and cannot be disposed of in a toilet.
Type 4 - Bags
This group consists of ordinary plastic bags, which are slightly modified or not modified at all. Modified bags include: scented bags, biodegradable bags, and bags with built-in ties. While use of a plastic bag is arguably the most commonly employed means for cleaning up dog waste, it is also one of the most objectionable. The user must come into direct tactile and olfactory contact with the dog waste, a most unpleasant prospect. In addition, the bag requires careful handling until a suitable waste receptacle is located.
3.2 Product Description
Fetch™ is unique in a number of ways. Fetch™ is designed so that the user's hands never contact the dog waste in any way. With a simple one-handed operation, Fetch™ encloses the dog waste in a bag inside of a sealed plastic case. Upon closing, the bag is automatically sealed. When Fetch™ is opened again, the liner bag and its contents are automatically discharged into a waste receptacle. Standard plastic liner bags can be deposited into an appropriate waste receptacle for disposal. Biodegradable liner bags can be deposited into a toilet for disposal. Its compact size makes it ideal for use when walking and the liner bag keeps the device from being contaminated.
The elastic-edge liner bag is the key to Fetch's™ simple operation. When Fetch™ is closed the liner bag is automatically closed with the contents inside. Two different types of liner bags are available:
- Standard bags are made of 1 mil polyethylene film with an elastic edge. These bags should be disposed of in an appropriate waste receptacle.
- Biodegradable bags are made of 1 mil water-soluble film with an elastic edge. These bags can be disposed of in any toilet or appropriate waste receptacle.
In accordance with the operations strategy, product manufacturing and fulfillment will be outsourced. Price quotes and invoicing terms have been obtained from these vendors. This information has been incorporated into the financial projections where appropriate.
3.4 Competition and Buying Patterns
Due to the healthy expanding economy of the 1990s, American pet owners have been able to "lavish unprecedented spending on their pets". Since these owners often consider companion animals, such as dogs and cats as members of their family, pet food companies have cashed in on this emotional bond. For instance, Funda Alp, a spokesperson for the American Pet Products Association stated that "love does translate into dollars." A study by Sloan Trends & Solutions in 1998 found that the average household with pets spent about $350 on their pets in 1998. These expenditures are expected to grow at an average rate of 4.4%/yr during the next 5 yr period. The average American household spends more on pet food than it does on wine, over-the-counter drugs, candy, or television sets. It spends more on veterinary services than it does on coffee, books, video rentals, or computer software.