Pets and the P&C channel

With roughly 30.4 million pets in Australia, higher than the number of people, it makes sense that pet care products should be as accessible as possible.

Research by Animal Medicines Australia (AMA) shows that dog and cat owners spend on average $3,237 and $2,074 per year on their pet, bringing the total spend for dog and cat owners nationally to $20.5 billion and $10.2 billion respectively, meaning there are opportunities abound for the P&C channel to capitalise on this spend.

Ben Stapley, Executive Director of Animal Medicines Australia, said Australia has had a boom in pet ownership like we’ve never seen before.

“We estimate there’s now 4.6 million dogs in Australia, meaning there are four legged friends in 47 per cent of all Australian households.”

Samantha Davies, Account Manager of Mass and Impulse at Purina Petcare, said over the past 18 months she has experienced how important the P&C channel is in regard to pet care.

“Our objective is to grow the category further by providing retailers and consumers more choice and accessibility to our strong performing brands. There is significant opportunity within this channel for further growth and Purina will continue supporting the P&C channel by providing optimised product ranges ideal for smaller format and independent convenience retailers.”

Purina Petcare is the producer of one of the strongest performing products in P&C – Supercoat Dry Dog Food, which is the top ranked brand in the dry dog food category in grocery. It has 70 per cent brand awareness and high penetration, with one in three shoppers purchasing the product. Supercoat has also just been relaunched.

“The Supercoat relaunch spreads across four key areas and will be heavily supported with media campaigns. The four areas include product reformulation; enhancing the formulation and adding additional kibble shapes to meet the needs of all breeds. Pack architecture; Supercoat is available in a 2.8kg bag size, and the specialised nutrition products have changed to 2.6kg.

“Design; Purina has refreshed the design of the pack ensuring that the key product benefits are in a stronger focal position, enhanced the Supercoat logo and refreshed the lifestyle image on pack. Enhanced colour coding for variants will ensure easier shopper navigation. And lastly, recyclability: The Purina Care logo has been added, highlighting the recyclability of the pack as well as Purina’s sustainability initiatives.”

Davies said that the wet cat food segment is another strong performing segment in P&C.

“Fancy Feast continues to deliver growth and is a significant contributor to growth across the wet cat food category. Felix is another wet cat food brand that has continued to accelerate and helps premiumise the wet cat food category.”

Darach de Búrca, Portfolio Marketing Director of Care and Treats at Mars Petcare, says consumers now have more choices than ever on where and how they get their groceries – pet care products included.

“We want to make sure that our brands are available to pet parents whenever they need them, and the 24-hour availability of the P&C channel can be a lifesaver if you realise your fussy cat is out of Whiskas at 7am.”

Pampered pets

Just as the better for you trend is a growing segment in the human market, de Búrca says that also rings true for pets.

“Additionally, we’ve noticed that as we’re paying closer attention to our own health, we’re also increasingly examining what’s in our pets’ bowls. Pet parents are looking for products they see as fresh and healthy; that utilise strong scientific claims; and those that are doing the right thing when it comes to sustainability.”

Making the most of the impulse nature of the P&C channel, de Búrca believes that up to 70 per cent of care and treat purchases are impulse or unplanned.

“The category is highly expandable, so there is a huge opportunity to increase the physical availability of these products.”

De Búrca said Mars Petcare has a lot of innovation coming out of the care and treat category this year to help continue to meet the needs of parents, serve more pets, and, of course, to delight and excite pets.

“A personal favourite of mine is our new BBQ range of Schmackos, for that lip-schmacking flavour. We’re also finding new ways to showcase our values to shoppers, with activations that direct funds towards causes they care about, like coral reef restoration with Dine cat food, and wildlife conservation with our Lion’s Share partnership.”

As people are spending more and more time at home with their pets, giving treats and snacking at the same time as your pet is a growing trend.

“The care and treats categories have seen sustained growth over the past two years, suggesting that we’re snacking with our pets while we work from home. Additionally, the rapid embrace of online shopping across the grocery and specialist channels has seen consumers experiment with their shopping habits, including with subscription models,” explained de Búrca.

Noting consumer trends, Davies says that the pet treat category is one to keep an eye on as it is the fastest growing category and the second largest consumer to overall pet care growth.

“Purina’s best performing treat is Lucky Dog Bones Original 800g. This product is the best performing product in the Dog Treat snacking segment and is available to P&C customers through The Distributors.”

Davies also recognised that shopping for pet products in the P&C channel is commonly a less planned purchase.

“For this reason, it is important to disrupt shoppers to remind them of your pet food offering. This can be implemented with off locations, in-store offers, and point of sale to draw attention to the category.”

Ben Whyatt, Founder of Doggylicious, a brand that produces dog-friendly peanut butter and cookies, and who has previously had his products stocked in OTR, said his biggest learnings from venturing into P&C is that impulse purchases are pivotal to the channel.

“I don’t think any dog owner would go into an OTR or 7-Eleven to top up on dog treats or dog food. It has to be an impulse purchase. They go in to top up their petrol and buy themselves a chocolate bar or maybe a coffee and get out, even if the dog is in the car.”

Paw in the door

Whyatt believes one of the biggest challenges facing pet care in P&C is making the consumer aware that the store stocks pet products and thinks that stores need to make themselves known as a dog-friendly.

“Instead of leaving the dog in the car, can they welcome dogs into the store? Are there dog washes at the site? There needs to be things that make it known that the store is dog friendly, so that the customer gets the perception that they can bring their dog in and treat them.”

Pulling the pet products out of the dark corners of the store is something Whyatt says is needed to help increase the opportunity for an impulse purchase.

“Take away a SKU that maybe isn’t performing as well but is in a prime location and replace it with a dog-friendly treat. So that when you’re buying yourself the chocolate bar, you think here’s a treat for my dog that’s sitting in the car. That kind of incremental purchase is needed as now there are far more people with a dog in the car, whether they’re on holidays, weekends away, or just a trip to the park.”

Davies said that the display of pet food options is vitally important and recommends three key planogram principles to focus on.

“It helps to cluster different animal groups, for example, dog and cat as this will aid in shopper navigation. Secondly, ensure fair share of shelf – adequate space allocation for each subcategory focusing on categories of growth, for example wet cat food and treats. And thirdly, follow a good – better – best flow to allow trade up into higher $/kg brands.”

This article was written for the October/November issue of C&I Retailing magazine.

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