Thinking back to my childhood, I loved hot dogs and mac & cheese like many other American kids. I mean, who didn't? Occasionally to this day, I get a craving, and I indulge. However, when the curtain was pulled back, and I saw how they were made and the ingredients lists, I couldn't unsee. A wise friend recently told me, "Some bells just can't be unrung."
The same is true in business and beyond the curtain in the parrot industry. A lot goes on behind the scenes that the everyday consumer doesn't see. Looking behind that curtain can change how you look at people you once respected or friends you thought you had in the business. Things can get cutthroat.
In the business world, if you are a business-to-consumer company, there are a few critical components to being a successful business. Honestly, new ones are being added all the time. Influencers are a huge part of the game. For those of you who are not tech-savvy or don't care about social media, they are the spokespeople for social media and digital marketing. Imagine Madge showing you how to clean your dishes, or imagine the guy telling you it was time to make the donuts for Dunkin Donuts. It has become a goal of many of the younger generation to become "content creators" or "influencers" and make tons of money.
Beware the bait and switch. Granted, some influencers aren't about popularity and money; they review products they genuinely believe in. Then there is the flip of the coin, the influencers who are out for the free stuff and all the money and notoriety they can get. Listen, I learned all this after years in avian retail, and honestly, I will always take the word of an actual friend who purchased the product over an ad or influencer on the net. It's honestly more trustworthy. Most influencers get stuff for free and promote the product. Depending on the agreement, the influencer must promote stuff, sometimes daily, weekly, etc. You may ask yourself, "Why don't you like influencers?" I don't want the average consumer who can't afford all these items to feel less than or like a horrible bird owner because they can't afford an enclosure that retails for eight-thousand dollars. Birds are expensive enough, let alone dealing with the stressors of keeping up with someone who didn't have to pay for items they are promoting. The bottom line, I don't like elitists. Period. No one is better than anyone else, they have different circumstances, and it is our job to uplift them. Do the best you can with what you've got. Being raised on a farm, we were instilled with the values of working hard and appreciating everything you have, regardless if it's not as nice as the neighbors.
Other businesses " borrowed" products from us when we owned and operated our holistic pet product business. A few years ago, a newer company purchased all of our teas, shipped them to their office and then came out with their line a few weeks later. I was chatting with a friend who makes bird toys about an issue that happens more often than not. She has had other toy makers create products she has had in her online store for years. I don't know how these copycats think you won't hear about it. The bird world is pretty small when you think about it, and if you are genuinely dialed in, you will see almost everything and every new product on the market. So the next time you find some "brand new" product, you might want to see if it came from one of your favorite small businesses and let your friends know.
When you own a bird, research is so essential and a requirement. When buying a product, especially regarding nutrition, the "creator" has the credentials to be doing so and can tell you what every ingredient is in their formulation and why. Just because someone has a following doesn't mean they know anything about their product. Always ask why ingredients are included and why.
With any niche group, the world of parrots can sometimes be challenging. However, I want you to know some fantastic and reliably experienced people are out there. They know their stuff, the products, and how good they are, and they are willing to share their knowledge and experience without getting something in return. There are dark alleys in the business but also some bright spots.
I have learned so much from people I met in bird clubs, and their knowledge and experience are much better and more trustworthy than something I saw on Instagram or TikTok.
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