Make your pet aisle a must visit for cat owners.
How much of your pet aisle focuses on felines? If it isn’t much, you might want to reconsider the amount of shelf space dedicated to cat food.
While 54.4 million U.S. households own a dog, compared with 42.9 million that own a cat, felines come out on top in sheer numbers. According to the 2015 2016 National Pet Owners Survey from the American Pet Products Association (APPA), there are 85.8 million cats and 77.8 million dogs owned in the United States.
The dollar sales that cat food and treats generate prove that feeding those felines can mean big business for manufacturers and retailers.
Sales of cat food and treats in the United States grew from $4.32 billion in 2000 to $6.99 billion in 2014, information from Hamburg, Germany based Statista ( statista.com) shows.
And with pet food accounting for a projected $24 billion of some $62.75 billion that the Greenwich, Conn. based APPA estimates will be spent on pets in the United States this year, understanding what customers want when shopping for their kitty companions is an important step in capturing market share.
“Humanization’ Hits the Cat Category
Just what are cat owners looking for when buying cat food today? Foods similar to what they’re buying for their families, according to Nielsen’s March 2016 report, “The Humanization of Pet Food.”
“In the U.S., 95 percent of pet owners currently consider their pets to be part of the family up seven points from 2007,” Schaumburg, Ill. based Nielsen reports. “This trend correlates with the growth of certain pet food segments, including healthy treats, specialty pet foods and other more premium options. Increasingly, pet owners are moving from expectations of “high quality (for pets)’ to “humanized’; that is, they desire pet food options that address the same health concerns currently influencing human food production, such as unnatural preservatives and genetically modified ingredients and they’re serious about these preferences.”
Chris Achenbach, brand manager for the Rachael Ray Nutrish line of super premium dry and wet cat foods manufactured by Meadville, Pa. based Ainsworth Pet Nutrition, says that’s exactly what the company is seeing.
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“Consumers want a level of quality for their cats that is more in line with the food that they feed to the rest of their family,” observes Achenbach. “As a result, the super premium, natural segment is the fastest growing segment in cat food, and less premium segments where animal byproducts and filler ingredients are much more prevalent are consistently losing share.”
Grain free products, he notes, are particularly popular with today’s cat owners.
“A portion of this strong super premium growth is being driven by grain free products, as a growing number of cat parents view these as more “ultra premium’ recipes that deliver premium protein while excluding all grains and glutens, which can be an issue for some cats,” says Achenbach.
Marketing Tips for Grocery Retailers
Knowing that cat owners want pet food that mimics some of the nutritional elements found in their own diets is one thing, getting them to visit your store to buy those products is another.
“As pet parents continue to treat their animals more and more like members of the family, it’s never been more important for grocery retailers to have the appropriate assortment of super premium products to compete with pet specialty outlets,” Achenbach stresses. “At the same time, it is crucial that pet parents are aware that the same quality products they’re used to finding in the pet store are available where they shop for the rest of their families’ groceries.”
Creating displays and in store signage touting the fact that your store’s assortment of cat food includes premium level products is one way to draw cat owners to the category.
“Many of our retail partners have found success with in store signage placed outside of the pet aisle designed to educate consumers on the availability of super premium products inside the pet aisle,” Achenbach notes.
“Consumers want a level of quality for their cats that is more in line with the food that they feed to the rest of their family.”
Chris Achenbach, Ainsworth Pet Nutrition
Adopt a Cat Month Coming in June
If you’re looking for a way to boost sales of cat products, it isn’t too early to start planning an event that will tie into the American Humane Association’s Adopt a Cat Month, a popular campaign that takes place every June.
Consider working with a local animal shelter, and plan signage, ads and coupons to coincide with this annual event. One idea: Donate a portion of proceeds from cat food sales during the month of June to a local shelter. Be sure to let customers and your local media know ahead of time to generate traffic and media coverage. For more information about the campaign, visit www.americanhumane.org
Pet Product Showcase
FullLife For Pets Simply Turkey Slices Treats
These high protein snacks include wholesome 92 percent turkey that’s been farm raised in the United States. The savory chips include only six natural ingredients: turkey, tapioca, sea salt, natural flavor, flaxseed oil and mixed tocopherols (as preservatives). The flaxseed is included to provide a healthy balance of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids; no BHA, BHT or ethoxyquin; and no artificial flavors. The line comes in 3 ounce resealable packages. www.fulllifeforpets.com
Beneful Dry Dog Foods
These dry dog food recipes feature simplified ingredient lists. Real meat is the first ingredient in the chicken and beef varieties, and all varieties are free of added sugar. Each variety offers 100 percent complete and balanced nutrition for each life stage: 22 grams or more of protein per cup, 23 essential vitamins and minerals to support overall health, and accents of real vegetables and fruits. www.beneful.com
Natural Balance Pet Food
Natural Balance pet food and treats are made with quality ingredients like sweet potatoes, legumes and brown rice, and premium animal proteins such as chicken, lamb, salmon and venison. It’s the only pet food brand with an ISO certified testing facility that checks for the nine most common contaminants before the food hits store shelves. You and your customers can even check the lab results of each individual bag of Natural Balance pet food at www.naturalbalanceinc.com/testyourbag. www.naturalbalanceinc.com
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