Why premium pet food brands should look to pet complement shoppers for audience insights


Successfully positioning and differentiating a pet food brand means knowing the audience. Brands formulating with premium human-grade or functional ingredients may experience challenges in gaining traction if they fight to attach with the pet parent audience at large. As a substitute, these brands may have the option to higher leverage their premium positioning by trying to the audience that’s already upgrading their pet’s nutrition: pet complement consumers.

Earlier this yr, as a part of its annual research into the pet complement market, MarketPlace surveyed 737 US pet parents to uncover insights into the attitudes and buy behaviors of the final pet audience, in addition to a subset of 282 pet complement shoppers — those that reported purchasing pet supplements previously 12 months.

Not only have pet complement consumers invested in understanding the ingredients inside pet nutrition products, their predisposition to research nutrition- and health-related topics could make the audience a bellwether for the pet nutrition space.


Formulating with emerging ingredients

Pet complement consumers are more likely than average pet parents to think about purchasing products formulated with a big selection of lesser-known or emerging ingredients and may be key early adopters for brands leading the subsequent generation of functional pet food products. Nevertheless, they have an inclination to be educated shoppers and need to know the advantages of the ingredients of their pets’ food before purchasing.

Over three-quarters (76%) of the pet complement audience has spent an hour or more researching ingredients previously yr, reminiscent of vitamins and minerals (46%); pre-, pro-, or postbiotics (31%); and CBD (31%). The pet complement consumer can be more likely than general pet parents to have a look at reviews before a first-time purchase, no matter whether the acquisition is online or in-store.

Armed with a general understanding of the functional ingredients getting used in pet products, this audience is extremely likely to think about purchasing products made with certain functional ingredients, reminiscent of vitamin D (74%), Omega 3 (72%), Omega 6 (68%), bone broth (63%), glucosamine (62%), collagen (60%), green tea extract (5%), and ginger root (51%).

Source: MarketPlace, “Functional Ingredients & Purchase Consideration: Likely or Very Likely To Consider” 


Human-grade for beloved family members

Nearly half (48%) of pet owners described their pet as a very important member of the family. Moreover, nearly three-quarters (74%) of pet complement consumers consider their pet thinks she or he is a human. This humanization of pets aligns with the increased perception that “human-grade” is an indicator of top of the range in pet products. Even amongst the final pet parent audience, 41% stated that “human-grade pet supplements are higher quality than pet supplements that aren’t human-grade.” Greater than half (52%) of pet complement shoppers consider their pets should only devour ingredients they might devour themselves.

Purchase Considerations for Functional Pet Nutrition: which of the following would you be most likely to seek in a product with health benefits for your pet to consume?Source: MarketPlace, “Perceptions of Human-Grade: Somewhat or Strongly Agree”  


Label claims for added value

Moving from the ingredient legend to front-of-pack, pet parents typically are more likely in 2022, in comparison with  2021, to search out certain label claims, including “natural” (52%; +9%), “organic” (33%; +7%), “ingredients from the USA” (30%; +7%), “high in protein” (61%; +17%), “high in fiber” (35%; +14%), and “grain-free” (32%; +13%). Moreover, pet complement consumers are more inclined than general pet consumers to view these label claims as indicators of quality. Pet food brands formulating premium products could drive additional value amongst general and goal audiences by including relevant claims on their packaging.

Purchase Considerations for Functional Pet Nutrition: which of the following would you be most likely to seek in a product with health benefits for your pet to consume?Source: MarketPlace, “Purchase Considerations for Functional Pet Nutrition: Which of the next would you be more than likely to hunt in a product with health advantages in your pet to devour?”  


A pet parent subset price targeting

The pet complement audience needs to be on the radar of pet food brands trying to position premium products around functional ingredients and advantages. This subsegment of pet parents is primed to be keen on pet food with natural ingredients that support top need-states, like skin and coat, in addition to under-met needs.

Jon Copeland, research strategist at MarketPlaceJon Copeland, research strategist at MarketPlace. (Photo courtesy of MarketPlace) 

Understanding how this audience differs from general pet parents may give brands an edge in making strategic decisions about their brand positioning and marketing spend. By microtargeting the pet complement consumer and reaching them where they’re, premium pet food brands can establish a base of passionate, early adopters for brand new products.

Jon Copeland is a research strategist at MarketPlace, a technique and branding firm to food and beverage, pet and animal, and health and wellness businesses. From primary research studies on the behaviors of pet parents to white papers, he delivers priceless insight to MarketPlace’s partners and the pet industry at large.

Read more about product development, ingredients and formulation.