Pet Execs Sound Off On What Brands Should Be Focusing On This Year


Executives from some of the pet industry’s top brands and retailers were recently gathered to sound off on the key issues pet companies are facing today as well as what brands can do to come out on top by the end of 2017. Want to know what they had to say? Read on below… 

Consider who you’re selling to

Millennials represent the largest consumer demographic… but simply knowing that is not enough. As a brand owner, you must consider the implications. What does that mean for your company? How should you be targeting them? “The way [Millennials] shop compared to the Baby Boomers and Gen Xers is vastly different,” says Kevin Fick, CEO of Worldwise. “For one, what’s defined as discretionary purchases versus non-discretionary with Millennials is nearly the reverse of the older generations. As such, I think there’s a lot of opportunity to cater your non-discretionary offerings to take advantage of this and drive the basket ring up.”

“It’s clear that the Millennials have become a key component of the pet food landscape,” quips Michael Landa, President and CEO of Nulo Pet Food.

If you aren’t there already, get online

Globally, an estimated 5.3 percent of total pet care sales were online in 2015, up from 4.4 percent the year previous. According to Forrester, U.S. online sales of pet products now total $3.7 billion per year, a 76 percent increase since 2010. Translation: Get your brand online, stat!

“Online [commerce] will definitely continue on its growth path as consumers of all ages (especially the Millennials) increase their comfort level of shopping on their phone and laptops,” predicts Fick. 

Craft brands, it’s your moment

“Traditional retail marketing is less likely to be effective as [consumers] seek more genuine, authentic brands, not big brand names,” continues Landa. “Their enthusiasm for authenticity and transparency surrounding food has also influenced how their pets eat.”

While it may not always feel like it, your small business has a particular advantage in today’s market.

More than ever, consumers are turning away from corporate conglomerates and reaching for the grassroots, upstart brand whose story is an open book. When it comes to taking care of the ones they hold dearest, this is doubly important.

This also means that as a craft brand, you’re that much more interesting to retailers. As Joey Herrick, President of Lucy Pet Products points out, smart retailers will recognize this need and fill it within their stores, rather than stock their shelves with the same old brands that have always held the top spot. “[The] most important is to understand where you can win and where you can’t. Strong retailers will begin to gradually reduce their emphasis on brands that are not exclusive and re-build their assortment with exclusive brands that are seeking exposure in the specialty channel.”

The humanization of pets will continue to be a driving force

With pets now being considered a member of the family, the industry has had to shift how they market pet products. “The humanization trend has been a key driver of the licensed brands business in the pet industry,” explains CEO of Fetch…for Pets!, Steven Shweky. “People want to share their favorite brands with their pets, and this has a huge impact on buying behavior. We’ve seen great success, especially in the grooming category, with brands such as Burt’s Bees for Pets and CHI for Dogs. Just as with the human market, variety is important, so offering an array of brands covering all price points will ensure retailers are meeting the needs of all customers.”  As @RetailPhil pointed out months ago, it’ll be up to brands to help retailers navigate this new market trend. It may seem counter-intuitive to be selling ice cream for dogs in the frozen desserts section rather than the pet food section. But a few years from now, all pet products may very well be dispersed around the stores alongside their human counter-parts.

Camelle Kent, CEO of WellPet, advises brands to deeply understand the relationship between consumers’ human needs and their pets – they’ve become one in the same. “One of the biggest trends that we foresee being a key component to the continued growth of pet nutrition sales is the closing gap between human food and pet food. Pet parents are making their pet’s nutrition a high priority as they realize what a high-quality, premium, natural diet can do for their overall health and happiness.”

Let us know what you think of the upcoming trends by commenting below!

Dayana Cadet

Dayana Cadet

Dayana’s love affair with writing spans all manner of content. As the Content Specialist at Hubba, connecting people to the things they love is where she thrives.

Follow her at @D_isforDayana
Dayana Cadet