Marcia Mogelonsky
Marcia Mogelonsky is the Director of Insight, Mintel Food & Drink, at Mintel. Her expertise focuses on a number of areas in confectionery and snacks.

The life expectancy of dogs and cats can average 13-16 years, depending on the species and breed. Pet owners can establish long-term relationships with pet food companies if the brands offer products at each stage of the pet’s life that meet their ongoing needs.

Manufacturers are broadening their reach by expanding into supplements, treats and other pet accessories that engage animals throughout their lives.

Loyalty to pet food brands

If a pet food company offers a series of age and stage-related products, it is likely to keep the pet and owner as a customer “for life,” proving the brand loyalty in the category is strong.

Almost two-thirds of US pet owners express satisfaction with their current pet food brand. Consumer satisfaction is from product due diligence, with almost half checking the ingredient list of any new product they plan to serve their pets.

Loyalty to pet food brands is likely to grow if the pet food products can keep up with the progression of pets’ lives. Aging pets are likely to have “aging” problems such as arthritis, vision problems, and cognitive challenges.

Looking beyond pet food to supplements and services

Just as they are interested in improving their own diets, many pet owners are also looking for better for pets (BFP) products. There is a growing interest in pet food enriched with “superfoods” such as kale, as well as pet food that could be considered “human grade.”

Pet food companies should consider looking beyond food to capture a new wave of products that appeal to pet owners: supplements, services, and equipment related to health and wellbeing.

The interest expressed by pet owners in products that mirror their own tastes is especially relevant. An interest in human-grade pet food could lead to the desire to share brands, as is seen by the interest in human brand grooming products for pets.

Expanding current pet product holdings

According to Petfood Industry, there have been more than 30 acquisitions in the pet food industry globally since January 2018. Mergers and acquisitions has gone beyond food to include pet products, packaging, services, and ingredients.

Most notably, the General Mills-Blue Buffalo deal in April 2018, represented a deal worth approximately $8 billion. Smucker made its second pet food acquisition in the same month when it acquired Ainsworth Pet Nutrition and its highly successful Rachel Ray Nutrish brand for $1.9 billion. Nestlé’s recent $2 billion acquisition of Canadian Champion Petfoods is the most recent CPG company pet food acquisition.

As with General Mills and Smucker, the company’s newest pet food acquisitions is seen as a way to offset losses in its “human food” divisions.

Ages and stages in the US pet food market

Puppy – Dog for Dog Chicken Meal & Brown Rice Recipe Dog Food Formulated for Puppies. This product is made with natural ingredients, such as chicken meal, brown rice, dried egg, and wholesome oatmeal.

 

Adult- Dick Van Patten’s Natural Balance L.I.D. Lamb Formula Adult Dog Food. The high-protein product for adult dogs of all breeds contains 48% lamb and healthy fats that provide protein and fatty acids to support healthy muscles, skin, and coat.

 

Seniors – Iams Naturistics Premium Nutrition for Senior Dogs. This dog food is suitable for senior dogs from seven years old onwards and is fortified with vitamins, minerals, and amino acids.

What we think

CPG manufacturers entering the pet food category can benefit from the longevity of dogs and cats and the brand loyalty of their owners. There is room to take the brand loyalty to a new level, not only by staging food to match the lifecycle stages of pets, but also by bridging the pet-human divide with shared branding strategies.