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Marketing Pet Food to Pet Supplement Consumers

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Pet owners who supplement their pets are a special segment of consumers. They are more likely than the average pet owner to seek information from multiple sources. This group appreciates understanding what is in a functional product and what it does for their pet. When researching supplements for their pets, they tend to have a specific benefit or ingredient in mind.

Earlier this year in June, MarketPlace surveyed 737 pet owners in the United States to identify trends and perceptions driving purchasing decisions about pet supplements. Approximately 40% of pet owners say they have purchased a supplement in the past 12 months, and this audience represents an attractive opportunity for pet food brands.

First, pet supplement consumers are willing to seek out products with specific ingredients for specific needs and don’t mind paying a little more for their pets’ nutrition. Second, they tend to have strong emotional bonds with their pets and actively seek out animal health information. And third, consumers of pet supplements tend to buy from multiple online channels, meaning they are reached through search marketing and social media outreach.

Pet food brands can find growth opportunities by learning about the buying motivations of this audience.

Quality indicators

Perceptions of quality strongly motivate pet supplement consumers – around one in five (21%) give supplements because they do not perceive the food alone as sufficient to meet their pets’ nutritional needs, indicating perceptions of poor quality in their pets’ diets. Consumers may consider that the quality ingredients in supplements make up for the lack of quality in pet food. This presents an opportunity for pet food brands to use proven quality ingredients.

Benefits and claims sought

Some statements are more likely to resonate with pet supplement consumers than the average parent. For example, about one-third of pet supplement consumers agree that “organic” (31%) and “made in the USA” (32%) indicate high-quality pet foods, treats and supplements. company. “Natural” claims also resonate strongly with the pet supplement public.

Additionally, about one in five pet supplement consumers said that “non-GMO ingredients” (23%) or “human-grade ingredients” (20%) indicate the quality of pet consumables.

Health Benefits

Need and benefit are the primary purchase drivers for pet supplement consumers. Whether going online or in a physical store, the pet supplement shopper has a need in mind. While applications for skin, coat and joint health top the list of supplements that pet parents are likely to have purchased, other supplements seem to be gaining traction.

About 22% of pet supplement consumers said they had purchased an anti-anxiety or calming supplement for their pet in the past 12 months. Survey data shows that visits to the vet, inclement weather, travel, time alone at home, and outside noises such as fireworks are the top reasons for giving calming/anti-anxiety supplements.

Gut health can also be an area of ​​innovation. Consumers of pet supplements are more likely than average to have sought out microbiome information. Twenty-nine percent said they would associate probiotics with positive health benefits for their pet. And about a third (31%) said in the past 12 months they had spent more than an hour researching prebiotics, postbiotics or probiotics.

In summary, pet supplement consumers are a high-potential audience for pet food brands. These pet parents are likely to be early adopters of food applications formulated with the functional ingredients they already seek in supplements. They are engaged consumers, who research, read reviews and are likely to seek out innovative pet food offerings.

Jon Copeland is a research strategist at Marketplace, a strategy and branding firm for food and beverage, companion animal and companion animal, and health and wellness businesses. From primary research studies on pet parent behaviors to white papers, it provides valuable information to MarketPlace partners and the pet industry as a whole.

Read more from MarketPlace’s Jon Copeland at what makes pet supplement buyers a bellwether for the pet nutrition space.

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